Whether you’re a contractor on-site or a community member watching from the sidelines, there’s no arguing that a big part of a construction project involves moving dirt. It’s perhaps one of the most frustrating questions that contractors can get – why they do nothing all day but move dirt around. What many people don’t know is that digging, scooping and transporting dirt is a huge and valuable part of a construction project.
Digging and moving dirt in the construction industry is as vital as seeing patients is to a doctor or being on the computers is to an office administration person. In order to build a strong foundation and have a level building, digging holes and hauling dirt is needed. As projects grow, excess material needs to be shifted and moved as machines and people need to get into new spaces.
Digging is synonymous with building; you can’t have one without the other.
Any construction project is only as good as its foundation. Rushing this first step can result in challenges later on. These can include structural issues, shifting and settling of frames and walls or even within the foundation itself.
Grading a proper and level foundation, digging holes deep enough to support the new building and having a stable environment for a project to be built on is key. Moving dirt, hauling debris and constructing this vital foundation will happen on any construction project.
When digging up and moving materials on a construction site, it creates a unique opportunity to monitor the soil quality and any kind of unearthed debris that may not have been predicted. Construction projects require soil testing at the beginning of projects to test to check for contamination, organic and sand content and strength.
The makeup of the soil on which you build your project can impact the outcome. Specific types of soil compact quicker or absorb more water. All of these could impact the construction process or requirements of a project.
There are a number of great digging machines out there for contractors and even more machines that can help move and transport dirt around and off of a construction site.
The most common digging machine is an excavator. While you can get auger attachments for skid steers or backhoes, excavators are the go-to machines for digging. With a variety of sizes, bucket attachments and varieties such as long-reach or wheeled excavators, it’s understandable why excavators are often referred to simply as “diggers”.
When it comes to moving dirt, there’s a bit more variety.
Front-loaders and backhoes are common for moving dirt. Backhoes are the best-of-both-worlds since they have the excavator arm on the back and a bucket on the front. Front-loaders can often carry a lot of dirt and are ideal for moving large quantities of dirt around a bigger site.
For smaller projects, skid steers are great for moving dirt around. Telehandlers have the advantage of lifting dirt higher than any traditional bucket or front loader. They also have a lower cab height, making them ideal for certain projects.
Of course, rock trucks or dump trucks are best for relocating large quantities of dirt or carrying debris off-site.
Any time you are building something new, foundations need to be built and the ground needs to be levelled. During a project, debris and dirt needs to be removed or relocated. Finishing touches, site cleanup and landscaping at the end of a project will also require moving dirt.
There’s a reason moving dirt is one of the most recognized visuals of a construction project. It’s important to recognize its vital impact on a project and all the value that it brings to the industry.