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Homeowner's Guide: Differences Between Trenching & Excavation

January 30, 2022

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Trenching and excavation are two ways to get in and under the ground, each with its own pros and cons and each one used to perform very different tasks. But what are the differences between trenching and excavation? Are they the same thing? How can you tell them apart? Here’s everything you need to know about trenching vs. excavation, including how to choose which type of digging job is right for you and your project.

What to expect from trenching

A trench is a long, narrow ditch dug into your yard. It’s typically used to transport wires and cables for telecommunications services such as cable television, internet and telephone. Sometimes home-owners are surprised when their landscaper comes out and opens up a long gash in their lawn—but if you aren’t affected by any utility lines running under your property, a trench isn’t necessary.

Even if you are required to have a trench by a utility company, you may have options. The depth of your trench can be customized based on your needs—typically it’s around 12 deep, but can go as low as 6 or even 4 deep for some services like cable television.

Trenching is especially common in new home construction, where it’s often included in your final price. If you’re looking to have a trench installed on an existing property, however, you can expect to pay between $4 and $12 per linear foot. It’s also important to remember that having a trench dug into your yard can impact how water drains out of your soil—it may cause some turf damage or even make drainage issues worse if left unrepaired.

What to expect from excavation

Excavation contractors typically dig up existing concrete in order to make room for foundations, pools, additions and other new features. Expect to see large machines tearing through your yard and lots of heavy equipment on-site. An excavation project takes a lot longer than trenching and is usually much more disruptive to your daily life. Demolition crews are likely to be around your house all day long, making noise as they work.

Keep in mind that trenching is often done with a smaller crew than you’ll see on an excavation site. The trench will also be deep enough to accommodate a sidewalk or other pedestrian feature, while it’s usually unnecessary to dig that deep for foundations or pools. Since trenches tend to be much shallower than excavations, they typically don’t require as heavy of machinery or disrupt your daily life as much.

Comparing each method

While trenching generally takes place below ground level, excavation takes place above ground level, which can mean less disturbance to your home’s landscaping. Whether you choose to have a trench dug or an excavation performed depends on your project and what size of a space you need to access.

Although excavating is best for landscaping projects, there are some cases where you might need to trench. For example, if you need to access buried pipes or electrical wires, trenching may be necessary. Additionally, if your property is irregularly shaped or has different elevations, you may also opt for a trench instead of an excavation.

Whether you choose to have an excavation or a trench dug will depend on your individual project and what your personal preferences are. You should also consider whether or not you need access to buried cables or pipes before deciding which method is best for you. If so, trenching may be more appropriate.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you’re willing to potentially damage your property’s landscaping. In some cases, trenching can cause grass, bushes and trees to die off, though professional landscapers can minimize these effects.

How do you know which method is best?

It’s important to know whether you need a trench or an excavation before choosing a contractor. As with other areas of construction, there are different methods to dig holes in your yard. Each method has its own set of rules and regulations that must be followed. Here is some helpful information on each type of digging and how it will affect your project.

The difference between trenching and excavation is determined by how deep you’re digging. If you’re just digging to reach utilities like water or sewer lines, for example, then your dig will be classified as a trench. However, if you need to dig deeper in order to build structural support walls or load-bearing foundations, then you have an excavation on your hands.

Which one is right for you? It depends on your project and its specific requirements. The biggest difference between trenching and excavation is how deep you're digging and how much dirt you're moving. That may seem obvious, but it really affects everything from safety to cost. Safety is a big concern whenever you’re dealing with construction or excavating services of any kind.

How much does it cost?

Trenching and excavation are two closely related but very different methods of digging holes. While each is used for specific situations, both can be difficult for a homeowner to figure out how much to pay for. 

What factors influence excavation costs? Depending on your home project, they can include whether you plan to hire a professional or handle it yourself, and if you’re digging up topsoil or excavating with a backhoe.

The length of your trench or excavation project is another factor. On top of paying for excavation services, you may also need to pay for disposal fees, depending on how far away you are from a landfill or other waste-disposal site. Keep in mind that your project location will affect cost factors like travel time and costs. For example, it might take a long time to travel to a remote location with few roads.

According to Home Advisor the average excavation job runs between $1,448 and $5,311 where the average trenching job is between $400 and $1,200. Smaller jobs may only require a backhoe and large ones may need larger equipment like excavators or dump trucks. It all depends on your exact project needs, so it’s a good idea to make sure you understand exactly what you need.

Call our team at Excavation Contractors CT for all your excavation and trenching needs.

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