If you’ve ever seen a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, then you’ve seen what can happen if you build on a shallow foundation in soft soil. In other words, you’ve seen what can happen when a building site isn’t properly excavated. Digging a hole to lay a foundation may seem simple enough for anyone to do it, but hiring a professional excavation contractor might mean the difference between your building standing up or falling over.
Re-shaping the landscape
Before a structure can be built, the ground beneath it needs to be gradedc. This can be done by digging out the soil from the higher area of a slope and moving it to the lower area. This ensures that when the hole for the foundation is dug, it will provide a level surface for the building to stand on. If this isn’t done properly, you may end up with sloping floors. Worse, it can put immense strain on structures, causing cracking and other structural damage.
Working With the Soil
An excavation contractor usually has the specialized equipment for excavating every soil type, even solid rock. This is key, because the type of foundation you build depends in part on the ground you’re building on. To find out what you’re working with consult a soil map (available through the USGS), or order a soil report, conducted by a professional geotechnical engineer.
Armed with this knowledge and the proper foundation design, an excavator can make a detailed plan for how to dig. For example, in soft soils, the sides of the hole usually need to be stepped or sloped when digging deeper than six and a half feet. Likewise, the excavation walls in clay soil often need to be shored up to prevent collapse. When soil is especially wet, an excavation contractor will know how to dig drainage trenches or wells.
When it comes to the long-term integrity of your building, having a strong foundation is typically a good place to start. Bringing in an experienced professional to do your digging can save a lot of cost and heart-ache in the years ahead.