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What’s the cost of excavating around the house perimeter?

GBA Editor | Posted in General Questions on

I am planning on performing a retrofit of my 1950s ranch-style house to air seal and increase the R-value of the walls. I am planning on adding 4 inches of rigid foam on the exterior of the house. Part of the plan is to bring the foam down to the footings of the basement walls.

My question is this: What is a reasonable price to pay for excavating a trench, 6 to 8 feet deep by 2 feet wide, around the house? I have about 100 feet of basement wall that needs to be excavated. Can you give a $/linear foot cost?


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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    To determine the cost, contact three excavation contractors and obtain bids. Choose your contractor based on their reputation or their bid. That's your cost.

    According to my out-of-date (2000) Repair and Remodeling Cost Date book from R.S. Means, the mobilization cost for small equipment delivered on a flatbed trailer is $435, and the cost to dig an 8 inch wide trench, 24 inches deep, is $1.32 per lineal foot. (I know these dimensions are different from your proposed trench.) The cost to excavate a trench by hand with a pick and shovel (for depths up to 6 feet deep) is $37.50 per cubic yard in light soil and $74.50 per cubic yard in heavy soil.

  2. David Meiland | | #2

    Martin, I would hesitate to throw numbers like that out there. There's just too much variation based on region, site conditions, etc.

  3. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #3

    That's why I advised Jhoin to get three bids and choose one. As I said, "that's your cost."

    I never claimed that the numbers from the R.S Means book represent the cost for Jhoin to excavate. All I wrote was, "These are some numbers from my out-of-date book," and I clearly noted that the numbers referred to different types of excavation than Jhoin is considering.

  4. Dan Kolbert | | #4

    "Reasonable" is in the eye of the beholder.

  5. jhoin | | #5


    So, since I have a 100 ft x 6 ft x 2 ft (1600 ft^3 ~ 60 cubic yards) trench to dig, I should expect the prices to be in the range of $2685 for light soil to $4905 for heavy soil (inclusive of the small equipment delivery charge). My first quote is for $6160 which by the 2000 numbers is high. I think I'll get some more estimates.


  6. Riversong | | #6


    Ignore Martin's numbers - they are meaningless, because they are for a different kind of trenching and excavation than you have in mind, they are not adjusted for regional variance, and they are way out of date (prices have increased as much as 50% in the last ten years).

    If you're going to get other estimates, find a contractor who has a good mini-tracked excavator. A small machine, with a turntable base and a small bucket can often do this kind of work with less disruption, more precision and at less cost.

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