There are many jobs that excavating contractors do besides play in the dirt, haul dirt around, and operate big pieces of heavy equipment. Excavating contractors may work for a construction company or even own their own company. If they work for a construction company they may be considered a supervisor and have their own crew that works under them helping do the work. They may do any tasks that are soil-related such as grading, site preparation, trenching, and more.
In most construction projects, the excavation crew will arrive at the site after the survey crew has outlined the lot and house boundaries so they know where to excavate. The excavation contractor or one of the crew will remove the soil to the depth that is required for the new foundation. The contractor is the one that makes sure that the soil is firm enough by doing compaction testing. If it is necessary, they may also test it using compaction equipment. The requirements are precise so the excavating contractor has to be able to use a transit and level to match the grade that the survey crew posted. Once this is done, a foundation contractor will pour the stem wall and footers. Once they are dry and set the excavation contractor will backfill around the new foundation.
Moving around dirt
If dirt has to be moved, the excavating contractor would be called. This can include building roads, digging ponds, digging sewers, excavating ditches for gas or water lines, grading roads and operate a trencher that installs the flexible pipes under the ground without making ditches. What they can do will depend on the equipment that they or the company they work for lease or own. The equipment that is used for excavation jobs are expensive and to insure them it is costly. Excavating companies or self employed contractors that have a small to mid-size operation will lease or own front-end loaders, backhoes, bulldozers, trenchers, skid-steers, and compactors. Most will also own one or two large dump trucks to haul the excess dirt away.
If you are a self-employed excavating contractor, you will be responsible for submitting competitive estimates and bids to acquire new jobs. They will also have to know what the rate is for excavation work in the area where they have their business. Being an excavation contractor, you are considered a subcontractor. The reason is that excavating is just one part of the large project. For example, if a pool is being built for a homeowner the contractor will dig the pool but will not oversee the whole project. Self-employed excavating contractors may work for general contractors on an as-needed basis. In most states, they have to be licensed and bonded and follow safe jobsite practices.