Construction, both new and those involving renovations, is a complex task, filled with different steps that need to be performed perfectly in order for the overall project to succeed. As one of the very first steps taken in virtually any building project, site excavation is of particular importance. Site excavation is the action of breaking up and moving earth using different kinds of tools or explosives.
Site excavation usually plays one of two different kinds of roles. The first is to simply create a level area on which to construct a building. However, if the ground for the foundation of where the building will rest is concerning – an excavation, then a back fill, may need to be undertaken to ensure the soil is as high a grade as possible.
Planning for a Site Excavation
As with most things in life, proper and thorough planning is one of the keys to a successful site excavation. A detailed blueprint is needed, marking such important pieces of information like the boundaries of the excavation, where drainage trenches will run, the location of both topsoil and fill dirt piles, and what route haulers will take to remove the uncovered earth.
If the project is more intricate, things may need to be done in stages, something easily denoted on the blueprint with color coding. While the overall concept is pretty cut and dry, site excavation involves a number of steps that are critical to the plan’s execution.
Once an effective blueprint has been generated, head out to the site to begin preparing the area to be excavated. Place stakes all around the area to be uncovered, clearly marking the borders of the perimeter of the dig. Lines are formed, usually using string attached to the driven stakes, to dictate where the center of the dig is, as well as clearly marking the entire perimeter.
Before the actual work begins, most contractors will dig trial pits, to examine the makeup of both soil and strata contained in the dig area. These are dug strategically around the site, until a clear picture of what the ground contains is achieved. Be sure to keep these trial pits to the depth you will be going down to for the entire dig, no further.
If the area contains any trees or shrubs, the two steps of clearing and grubbing need to be taken. Clearing is the process of removing the tree or shrub itself, while grubbing involves the removal of the stump. How you get rid of the trees and stumps depends on how large they are, with burning or burying suitable for smaller fauna, and sale to a lumber yard the best course for larger.
Aside from removing the actual material itself, proper compacting is probably the most important, yet oft-neglected, steps to a site excavation. Depending on the type of soil contained in your dig area, it can either swell or shrink. Swelling is when the soil converts from its virgin state into the loose makeup it has when pulled from the ground. Shrinking refers to when the soil is put back into the hole, properly compacted, and turns out not to be enough to fill the hole completely.
Additional fill dirt is then needed to bring it up to the proper fill level. Excess material can be handled with dirt removal services. Dirt Connections provides free dirt delivery directly to your job site to make compaction and site excavation easier than ever.
Another oft-overlooked aspect of site excavating is proper drainage of the soil. The first, and most effective deterrent to excess water problems is to grade everything on a downward angle, so rainwater flows naturally down and away from the area in question. If your project is in an area with a high water level, drainage trenches or well points will keep the ground from turning into a soupy mess.
Common Machinery Used In Site Excavation
The type and size of the tools needed depends primarily on how big your project is. Most excavation projects include industrial-sized machines that perform many of the tasks that would be difficult for individual people to perform. One of the most important is the bulldozer, which has a fixed blade suitable for pulling or pushing dirt and material. The bulldozer is perfect for both grubbing and clearing, ripping out rocks and grading the earth.
The front-end loader is similar to the bulldozer, except the bucket in front that is used for actual work is movable. The bucket can tilt vertically, to dump out material, and can also be lifted to different heights. This versatility makes the front end loader perfect for both excavating and carrying material, as well as loading it into removal vehicles.
A compactor is used to ensure that the soil that has been uncovered is tamped down to a degree sufficient for it to be built on. This is achieved either through using weights on the compactor, or by vibration. If the latter is used, be sure to take into consideration any surrounding buildings, as the vibrations can achieve the strength needed to cause actual damage in their foundations.
Hydraulic excavators are less common, most often used when it comes to deep excavation or trenching. These devices are self-propelled, move about on tracks rather than wheels, and, as its name suggests, are operated using hydraulics.
How We Can Help With Site Excavation
From planning to execution, Dirt Connections is ready to help you throughout the entire excavation process for commercial and residential projects. To learn more about some of our useful services that can assist you, review our informational pages:
Assisting With Projects Throughout Virginia
Dirt Connections can help you plan and execute your site excavation all throughout Prince William County, Loudon County, and Fairfax County, Virginia. Please send us a message online or give us a call for more information on our dependable services.