Retaining Walls
French Drains
Landscape Design
New Lawn Installation

A Guide to Excavation Services

What are Trench Digging Services?

Trenches are long and narrow holes with varying depths and are dug for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Utility lines
  • Foundation footings
  • Water pipes
  • Sewage pipes
  • Drainage pipes
  • French drains

Prior to employing a trench digging service for utilities, be sure to contact your utility company or city. Oftentimes they will want to supervise the process to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Tips for Hiring Excavators

When hiring an excavator for the new home construction or other types of projects should be done carefully. You will want to start by doing your research on websites and by reading reviews to narrow your list down to the best excavation contractors. Interview each excavator, ask for references of satisfied customers, and ask to see a portfolio of previous work. 
You want to also make sure that the excavator has a clear plan for communication with you and that you feel comfortable working with them. For large projects like this is it is critical to work with someone that you feel you can trust. Be sure to ask potential excavation contractors:

  • If they are licensed and bonded.
  • If they are insured.
  • If they belong to any trade organizations.
  • Whether they do the work themselves or if they subcontract out. 

Before you begin your project, you will want to talk to your contractor about planning, grading, and landscaping. Be sure to check:

  • How the stormwater will flow, and how it will affect your property.
  • If the drainage systems will affect the properties next door to you. 
  • The soil composition and how it may affect the drainage, project deadlines, and cost of the project. 
  • Where you will need retaining walls and plants to reduce erosion. 

What You Should Know About Excavation Contracts

Excavating Contractor PittsburghAnother important part of the hiring process for an excavation contractor is to obtain a straightforward contract before any work is done. Typically, these services will be offered at a set price:

  • Grading
  • Spreading dirt
  • Moving/hauling dirt and debris
  • Supplying equipment and operators
  • Demolition
  • Land clearing
  • Digging dirt and rocks

Contingency clauses are also a common part of an excavation contractor. Since what’s underneath the ground can be a mystery until the digging starts, even for the most experienced diggers, a contingency clause state that anything outside of the scope of the project will come at an additional cost, such as boulders or a natural spring.
You also want to make sure the contract lists liability for a mistake. Typically the contractor is liable for the mistakes, but this can be more complicated if you are the general contractor. 
For those acting as the general contractor, be sure to:

  • Acquire all necessary permits.
  • Obtain insurance.
  • Have the land surveyed. 
  • Call one-call (811) to located utilities before digging.
  • Obtain certified plans from an architect or an engineer. 

Excavation FAQs

What does excavation mean?
The phrase “to excavate” means to lay bare, hollow out, or unearth, meaning that excavation is the act of moving earth or dirt.

What are the duties of excavation companies?
Excavation companies typically provide comprehensive earthmoving operations for a wide range of projects. They provide a fleet of various machinery and vehicles to complete any project.

Where does the dirt go after trenching is complete?
Excavation companies will either haul away the excess dirt, or they can spread it around your landscape. It is cheaper to keep the dirt at your job site than to have the company haul it away.

When should I hire an excavation contractor?
Try to hire your excavation contractor on your local offseason, which would typically be around late fall prior to the ground freezing in Pittsburgh. This is at the end of the main construction season. Early spring and wintertime are both great opportunities to find deals and get your project completed quickly.


Contact the Experts at J Bird’s Landscaping to learn more about excavation services in the South Hills area.