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Reasons to Hire a Professional Excavation Contractor (It's Not a DIY Job!)

excavating a trench

We live in a do-it-yourself (DIY) kind of world these days. You can Google just about anything to watch a YouTube video of someone showing you step-by-step how to complete the next project on your list. But, not all projects should be in that DIY bucket. Excavating is one such project.

Some of the reasons you may need excavation work done include the following:

  • Installing an in-ground pool
  • Putting in a sprinkler or irrigation system
  • Installing a septic system or plumbing pipes
  • Pouring the foundation for a new outbuilding
  • Adding large landscaping features
  • Creating a boulder retaining wall
  • Planting a large garden
  • Replacing contaminated soil with fresh dirt

If you are planning to do some excavation work on your property, we highly recommend hiring a professional excavation contractor. Many people think that excavation work is as simple as renting some equipment and moving some dirt around. But, it is actually a more complicated process that can be challenging and dangerous.

Here are six reasons why we recommend that you hire a professional excavator instead of DIYing it.

1. The Right Equipment

If you do plan to excavate your backyard yourself, you may just rent a Bobcat® from your local hardware store and start digging away. However, that one machine might not be able to complete the job for you. A professional excavating company will have access to all of the right equipment to get the job done right and quickly.

Here are several examples.

A professional will have a trencher. This is a tool that has a metal chain with metal teeth. It is used to rip up soil and roots from the ground. Due to being long and narrow, it is great for digging trenches whereas a Bobcat® will struggle to maneuver easily to dig a narrow hole.

Another piece of equipment that a professional will have is a backhoe with an extended arm. If you are digging in soft or wet soil, this type of machinery can come in handy. The extended arm gives it a longer reach. This allows the backhoe to sit further away from the hole. This reduces the possible risk of a collapse because the heavy machine is sitting at the edge of the pit.

In addition, professional excavators may also have access to other construction-grade equipment that can be used if needed. This type of equipment often requires a special license to use.

All around, professionals will have access to the exact tools that they need to successfully complete your excavation project.

2. The Soil

It may surprise you, but dirt can be complicated. There are different types. You cannot assume that the soil is the same from top to bottom. As you start digging, you are likely to come across various kinds. Each kind needs to be handled uniquely. This can create extra challenges that may make the job seem difficult to complete.

For example, you may come across rocky soil, which is stubborn. It cannot be removed in the same manner as the topsoil. Instead, it might need to be drilled or hammered.

Other examples include wet or sandy soil. Muddy soil requires different considerations as it weighs more due to the water. Sandy soil also needs its own approach as it is fine. As you dig, both muddy and sandy soil can create trench walls that may not be as sturdy. Precautions may need to be taken along the way to shore up the walls to prevent a collapse.

When you hire a professional excavator, they will test the soil. They will work with you to develop a plan that uses the right equipment to get the job done depending on the soil. They will also know how to expertly maneuver through or around potential obstacles.

They will also be able to account for the weather to determine how it will impact the project. As needed, they may be able to adjust the plan to work through hard dirt from an overnight frost or moist soil from a recent rainstorm.

3. The Risk

Excavation work is tricky. Before you start digging into the ground, you will need to contact your local public utility companies to have them mark the locations of all buried lines, pipes, and wires. This will help to ensure that you don’t accidentally hit a gas pipe or a cable line.

But, buried lines are not the only thing that you need to avoid with excavating your property. You also need to watch out for other items around the property. For example, you need to be cautious of overhead lines that can be clipped if the bucket is raised too high. You also need to watch out for nearby structures to make sure you don’t mistakenly break a window or damage a wall.

If you are inexperienced at driving a Bobcat® or using other pieces of machinery that you’ve rented, you may find that you tend to jerk it as you maneuver around the yard and use the bucket. This can cause soil to spill creating a mess. It can also cause unintentional damage to something nearby.

A professional excavation crew will have experience operating their machines. They will also know how to watch out for potential issues above and below ground. They may also be able to obtain the necessary permits, call the utility companies, and manage the technical details of the project.

4. The Insurance

As with any type of construction project, things can happen. If something does go wrong or something is damaged, you will be responsible for it if you’re doing this as a DIY project. Homeowners' insurance usually doesn’t cover any damage you cause. And, if you get insurance for the rented machinery, it only covers damage to the equipment and not any property damage.

When you hire a professional excavator, they will likely have insurance to cover the costs for repairs should anything go wrong. Before deciding which company to hire, you can check with them to see if they are licensed and bonded.

5. The Danger

We’ve already mentioned the potential risk of damage that can happen to your property when excavating it yourself. Digging can also be dangerous.

As you dig a pit, the walls around the edge could collapse under the weight of the equipment. Even a small machine can cause a collapse. When this happens, it can damage the rented equipment. Or worse, it can harm you or others.

Other potential dangers can include being electrocuted if an underground or overhead powerline is hit. You could cause a gas leak or explosion if a gas line is damaged. If the soil is soft or moist, you could slip or fall.

Working with a professional excavation company can help you to avoid these hazards. They are highly trained and follow safety protocols to circumvent possible dangers.

6. The Cleanup

If you decide to complete your excavation project yourself, you’ll also be responsible to clean up the dirt you took out of the ground. Depending on the quantity of dirt, you may need to arrange for a hauling company to come and take it away.

When you hire a professional excavation company, they will take the displaced dirt away. They are also aware of any regulations around disposing of certain waste materials, if applicable to your project.

If you are interested in hiring a professional excavation company, contact us at X West to learn more about our services. We are a family-owned and family-operated business, and we proudly service the Idaho Falls community. We would love the opportunity to help you make your next project a reality.