How does soil type affect construction

Building involves intricate and accurate operations where a multitude of factors have to be weighed. Among the most pivotal is the soil type upon which the construction is to take place. The soil’s characteristics play a substantial role in ensuring the project’s long-term stability and resilience.

Soil Types and Their Influence on Construction

Different soil types have different physical and chemical properties that affect how they react under pressure, how they absorb and retain moisture, and their ability to swell or shrink.

Sandy Soils

These soils are generally good for construction because they tend to drain well and do not swell or shrink with moisture. However, they offer little cohesion, which can lead to instability under heavy loads.

Clay soils

These soils are notorious in the construction industry for their high swelling and shrinkage capacity. Changes in moisture content can lead to significant movement in the soil, which can result in foundation damage.

Silt soils

These soils usually have low bearing capacity and are prone to compression under load, which can lead to instability in building structures.

Soil Investigation and Construction

Soil analysis is a vital preliminary step in any construction endeavour. This involves gathering and evaluating soil specimens to ascertain their chemical and physical traits. The gleaned data serves as a guide for gauging the location’s appropriateness for building and for making informed choices regarding the foundation and other structural components.

Soil Modification and Construction

There are instances where the native soil condition is less than optimal for construction. In such situations, construction experts may choose to enhance or modify the soil. Options include fortifying the soil with additional materials like sand or gravel, altering its chemical composition for better bonding, or compressing it to boost its load-bearing capacity. Undertaking soil modification requires meticulous planning and should only be carried out under the supervision of a qualified geotechnical engineer.

Soil Erosion and Construction

Soil erosion can have a significant impact on construction projects. If the soil type is prone to erosion by water or wind, it can lead to the loss of valuable building land, destabilize foundations, and may even compromise the integrity of the building structure itself. Therefore, it is crucial to employ erosion control measures such as constructing appropriate drainage systems, using erosion control blankets and mats, and planting vegetation to keep the soil in place.

Soil Contamination and Construction

Soil testing is essential prior to construction. By analysing soil samples, we gain insight into the bearing capacity and composition of the soil. On this, engineers base their decisions for the right foundation and possible soil improvement. This prevents construction problems and ensures safety and sustainability.

The Importance of Sustainable Soil Management in Construction

Sustainable soil management is an essential part of responsible construction, hence why site works is so important. This means maintaining the health and vitality of the soil during and after construction. It can include measures such as minimizing soil disturbance, preventing erosion, restoring soil structure after construction, and using construction methods that take …

Safety protocols during excavation

The safety practices of our professional excavation contractors go above and beyond what is required because we know that safety is the number one priority in any job. Meeting deadlines and coming in under budget are important. Providing excellent customer service and doing an outstanding job are also very important. But, while these are all important aspects of what we do, they come a distant second to the safety practices that we employ. We understand that the safety of our workers as well as our clients is and should be the top priority for any business, especially one that involves the use of power equipment. This means we don’t cut corners; we do things the right way at every job, which is why our safety record is as good as it is.

The first part of managing a safe worksite begins with proper training. You will never find anyone at one of our worksite’s operating Earthmoving Equipment, unless they have been extensively trained and are licensed. With Earthmoving Equipment, it just takes a moment, a simple misstep, and disaster could be waiting. That’s why training is a priority, and even seasoned employees receive continuous training to ensure that their skills always remain sharp.

What types of hazards are commonly present at excavation sites?

First, there’s the Earthmoving Equipment, which is an obvious hazard. There’s also the risk of a collapsing trench, falling debris, nearby structures could collapse or suffer structural damage if there are mistakes made during the excavation process.

Another hazard that is very serious and deserves attention is the risk of striking an underground utility line. Hitting a water or sewage line can cause flooding and expensive damage. But, hitting a gas or electricity line could be far worse, resulting in serious injuries or death, that is why either dial as you dig needs to be contacted or a underground service locator is required, also one hazard that is not often thought of is the risk of a hazardous atmosphere in or around a trench that is being dug.

Speak to our team today to discuss your project.…

The risks when digging trenches

There are many reasons to hire a professional when you need a large trench to be excavated on your property.  Not only is it hard, backbreaking work that is best completed using Earthmoving equipment such as excavators, but there are also a lot of potential safety hazards involved.  What are the risks we have to look out for when digging trenches? There are quite a few in fact and knowing what the potential dangers are when digging a trench is the first step in being able to avoid them.

The first danger to watch out for is underground services.  Digging up underground services while digging a trench can result in injury, death and an expensive repair bill to fix.  These are all situations that you want to avoid, which is why we always insist that you contact dial before you dig and also to be on the safe side to know you have done all that is possible to avoid underground services is to hire underground service locators to find all utility lines before we begin work.  This simple, and inexpensive step can help to ensure that the excavation process goes smoothly while greatly reducing the chances of an accident.

One of the most common dangers when digging a trench is the risk of a collapse or cave in. If you have workers in a trench and the trench collapses, this could prove to be disastrous.  Even smaller trenches can quickly cover someone with enough dirt and sediment to crush them, making breathing impossible, which can quickly turn deadly.  Our experts are trained in using the proper techniques to avoid collapses.  If they feel it’s too dangerous to dig a trench in an area, they will decline the job and let you know.  For us, safety is the top priority.

Whenever you have a trench and people are in the same area, one of the more obvious potential dangers is someone falling in the trench.  A fall of a few feet may not seem that dangerous, but even short falls can result in serious injuries, or even death.  When it comes to preventing a fall into a trench, it’s important that every precaution is taken.

If you ask anyone that has fallen into a ditch, you won’t find one that said that they expected that to happen.  It’s an accident, that’s why you must take precautions to prevent it.  What kinds of precautions do we take? First, we never store anything near a trench.  This prevents people from reaching for a supply and losing their footing and falling.  We also ensure that all trenches are clearly marked and have safety barriers around them whenever we are not on the site actively working.

Digging a large trench also involves the use of Earthmoving equipment and diggers, and whenever Earthmoving equipment is involved the risk of a serious accident increases.  To mitigate these risks all of the operators on our team are certified and are extensively trained in the use …

What is grading in excavation?

Grading during excavation describes either the angle of the earth that is being formed, or a flat surface that is being formed out of a surface that was not originally flat.  Basically, it’s the process of using Earthmoving equipment to shape the ground to suit whatever purpose that the owner intends for it.  Unfortunately, the ground is rarely shaped according to what is convenient.  Naturally occurring formations on the surface are almost always uneven and require significant work to get them to the shape and grade that can be used for their intended purposes.  This type of work is typically done with excavators and other power equipment, and when used by an experienced professional a high degree of precision is often possible.

When Is Grading Used?

In most cases, grading is used toward the end of a construction project.  The construction process is messy.  It causes earth to be moved around leaving ground lumpy and often with potholes and other features that aren’t suitable for a finished structure.  When this happens, Earthmoving equipment is used to scrape the top layer of soil and level it out, creating a smooth and even surface.

Grading is commonly done for aesthetic purposes.  The last thing that most property owners want is an uneven, rough yard or lawn.  Among other things, this is going to result in a higher bill from the landscaper.  If a landscaping company must either grade a lawn themselves or hire a third party to do it for them, you can bet that this cost will be passed on to you.

Grading can also be done for practical purposes.  When you have uneven ground, and you have rain, you end up with water pooling on the surface.  If water pools on the surface of the ground and is not absorbed and does not evaporate, it will have to go somewhere.  The main problem that arises here is that by allowing water to pool you’ve created an unstable and unpredictable situation.  You aren’t controlling the water; you are letting chance dictate where it will run off to.

Now, you could get lucky, and the water could flow off exactly how you hoped it would.  But the more likely option is the water will randomly flow somewhere that you’d rather it not end up.  This could cause soil erosion if there is significant runoff.  You could also end up with water seeping into the ground where it could end up damaging or destabilizing the foundation of your home or business.

Grading may not immediately seem to be as important as excavating and other aspects of preparing the ground for construction, but this isn’t the case.  If you skip grading, or it’s not done properly, then you are leaving the job incomplete.  At best this will cause problems for other contractors such as landscapers down the road.  At worst, it could end up causing soil erosion and even foundation damage by not allowing for water to be properly channelled away from any structures …

What can you expect from an excavation contractor?

When you hire an excavation contractor there are certain things that you can expect of them. But it starts by understanding what they can do for you. Excavation contractors are most often called before a construction or landscaping contractor starts their work.  Their job is to prepare a site before the landscaping or construction crew gets started.  A big part of this involves inspecting the site to see what the soil composition is like so they can determine if excavation can be safely done.  The customer should also make sure that any underground utility lines have been located, either by contacting dial before you dig or hiring an underground service locator and then have them  marked ahead of time.

Once they have ensured all underground services have been marked, and that the site is safe to work on, they’ll get to work.  They will also often help to shape the landscape so that it fits with the building plans.

Excavation contractors will also help to dig trenches for pools and prepare a landscape for roads, sidewalks and drivewalks.  They’ll ensure that proper drainage if planned for so that the construction or landscaping crew won’t have any issues once they get to work.

The excavation contractor will also often haul away any dirt or sediment that is not needed for the construction process.  In some cases, it can be reintegrated into the landscape, but more often than not, there is an excess that they will haul away for you.

Any excavation contractor that you hire should be well prepared and have a clear process in place to ensure that they are able to meet the timeline of the construction or landscaping crew.  They should know when the excavation needs to be completed by, and they should plan accordingly.  The last thing you want is to have a landscaping or construction crew be delayed due to an excavation contractor not being able to stick to their timetable.  As long as the timetable is reasonable, and there aren’t circumstances out of their control that slow them down, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be finished on time.

When hiring an excavation contractor, you should look for a few important things.  First, make sure you are hiring a professional company with all the necessary licenses and insurance.  If you’re hiring an excavation contractor that means you’re investing in a construction or landscaping project.  The last thing you want is to hire a substandard excavation contractor and end up having their work compromise the construction or landscaping project.

Besides hiring a professional company, you should also hire an experienced one.  An experienced contractor will have spent more time working on various projects, and they’ll understand how to work around unexpected problems that often arise during an excavation.

At Dobson Excavations we are fully licensed and insured and with over 30 years of experience, we have a vast experience with excavations. Give us a call today for a quote or to have any of your questions …

House pad preparation

What happens during house pad preparation? Prior to pouring the foundation or doing anything else involving the actual construction of the house, the house pad must be prepared.  Starting the construction of any building before preparing the house pad properly is setting yourself up for disaster.  It’s an essential part of the process and there’s no way to avoid it without being willing to accept disastrous consequences down the road.

The Soil Where a Building Is Being Constructed Is Usually Not Suitable for Building

Soil is rarely naturally in the proper condition to be built on.  Soil contains impurities that can be problematic.  If there is too much organic matter in the soil it will sink and compact too much.  If there are large rocks or boulders, they will shift and move, which can cause the soil to collapse beneath the foundation.  There could be other issues as well, any type of debris that is in the soil before construction and pouring the foundation needs to be removed.  If there are any trees, existing structures, or vegetation, these will all have to be removed.

After the area has been cleared of impurities, vegetation, structures, and anything else the sand can be added to the construction site.  Sand helps to raise the ground level up before the excavation process, which will aid with drainage and water control once the building has been constructed.  The sand will then have to be compacted thoroughly to make sure that it is stable, a compaction test is also required to certified the pad before building begins so the weight of a foundation and building can now be placed on it.  Once all of this has been done, then the initial stages of construction can begin.

Will this take time? Yes.  Is it an added expense? Yes.  Is it necessary? Yes.  If you don’t test the sand and ensure that it is stable enough for building, you run the very real risk of constructing a building that will not be structurally sound.


Excavation is another step in the process of preparing a house pad for construction.  During this step a trench will be dug, and then the sand will be compacted to allow for the foundation to be poured.  After the trench is dug and the foundation has been put in, then backfilling the area will be necessary to reinforce the foundation and prepare for the construction of any structures.

Once all these steps have been completed grading will be necessary to ensure you have a nice, even surface to build on.  While this might seem like a lot just to get to the point where you are ready to start construction, these are all important steps that cannot be skipped over. Dobson Excavations takes all uncertainties out of your house pad preparation. Our experienced and professional team makes sure that the foundation of your house is properly constructed.…

What if rocks are found during excavation?

While this can be problematic, when you have a contractor that is experienced, they should be able to come up with a plan on how to deal with this issue.  Running into rocks during an excavation could present anything from a minor challenge to a major one, depending on how much rock is present.  If it’s a significant amount of rock that cannot be easily removed, then it will have to be broken down first.  This is where the rock hammer attachment comes into place.

Having a Plan in Place Ahead of Time Makes the Process Easier

Many construction sites have rock hidden below the surface, the key to being able to deal with this is to have the rock hammer attachment on hand.  Everything underground is unknow, we will not know if rock is present until we start digging, there are times depending on what area you live in, that we may be able to determine if rock is present or not, While we’re usually fairly accurate when determining the presence of rock depending on the area you live in, under the ground in all area is unknown.

If Rock’s are present that a regular excavator cannot deal with, we have 2 rock hammer attachment to break the rocks for 2 of our excavators. The 2ton Excavator and the 8ton Excavator, so whether the job is a small one or a larger job we can assist with all rock breaking. Our 21 ton Excavator can be equipped with a rock hammer attachment as well.…

Backfilling trenches and foundations

Understanding the steps to backfilling trenches and foundations will give you the knowledge you need to ensure the contractor you hired is providing you with quality work and service.  What is backfilling? Backfilling is the process of replacing lost material around a foundation after excavation.  Before a foundation can be poured a trench or pit will have to be dug to allow room for the foundation to be placed.  Once it has been placed, you’ll need to backfill the area surrounding the foundation to help provide it with support.  Concrete is strong and durable, but only when properly supported.  If it isn’t supported then it will crack, or even break, which can cause major structural damage to a building.  While backfilling might sound simple enough, if it isn’t done properly it can end up causing damage to a building’s foundation, which can be a very expensive problem to repair.

Choose The Right Backfill Material

The easiest option when backfilling around a foundation is to use the original soil that was excavated to create space for the foundation to be installed.  But just because something is the easiest solution does not mean that it is the best solution.  If you use soil that has too much organic matter in it, it’s going to compact more than regular soil.  This can cause sinking, which can cause structural damage.  If you use soil that has large boulders in it to backfill, these boulders will shift and move, which will cause the soil to sink, which can also lead to structural damage.  It’s important to choose coarse grained soil for backfilling.  Is this possibly another expense? Yes, but in this case, it’s worth it to avoid the headaches that can result if the backfilling process isn’t done correctly.

Reinforce the Strongest Parts of The Foundation First

Sometimes when a construction or work crew is under a tight deadline there may be a temptation to try to rush things to get them done quickly.  Backfilling around a foundation may appear to be a simple process, and there may be a thought of just working quickly to get it completed.  But this would be a mistake.  Backfilling should be started at the strongest point of a foundation, then slowly built up around the perimeter of the foundation.  Placing too much soil around any one area of the foundation at once will put stress on it, which can easily lead to a collapse.

After about six to eight inches of soil have been placed it should be wet and compacted before moving on.  While using wet backfill material is a problem, that’s a different situation than wetting the material evenly once it has been placed.  After you have built up each layer of soil until the entire foundation is surrounded you will have completed backfilling around the foundation.…

Causes and solutions to soil loss

The causes and solutions to soil loss can be a complicated subject that requires the guidance of a professional to fully understand and deal with the issue.  Soil erosion is more than just a problem for farmers, it’s something that can affect every property owner.  Soil erosion can damage your property’s foundation. That’s right, soil erosion can damage the foundation of a building, which can destabilize it and cause major structural issues.  That’s why it’s important to understand what soil erosion is, and more importantly what you can do to prevent it.

What causes soil erosion? The main culprit is water.  While wind and other forces can have a minor effect on soil erosion, for the most part, they aren’t much to be concerned about.  Water on the other hand, is a major concern.  When rain falls and it strikes dirt that does not have any vegetation covering it, the dirt is displaced.  A single drop of rain doesn’t go much, but during heavy rainfall countless drops combine to create a significant effect.

When rain first strikes bare earth it causes soil erosion, but that’s not the end of the process.  During heavy rains not all the rainfall can be absorbed quickly enough by the ground, which results in pooling of water, and frequent runoffs.  As water flows it also moves soil, causing erosion.

What you need to remember about soil erosion is that it’s not something that generally happens overnight.   While torrential rainfall can cause a massive amount of soil erosion quickly, that is the exception and not the norm.  Normally, soil erosion takes place over the course of several years while the accumulated effects of rain slowly shape and alter the landscape.

Soil erosion is a major problem for farmers since it strips away the top layers of soil and can make it much more difficult to sustain crops.  Vital nutrients in the soil can wash away, which makes sustaining crops more difficult.  This, in turn, leads to more bare earth due to less crop growth, which feeds into the cycle causing additional soil erosion.

While this is a problem, it’s likely not one that affects you directly.  Farmers have learned how to deal with it, so how is soil erosion a problem for the average home or business owner? When a building is designed properly the landscape is designed in a way to allow for water from heavy rains to flow away from the building.  When there is significant soil erosion, the designs are compromised, which can lead water to pool around the edges of a building.  When this happens, it can seep into the ground and destabilize the foundation of a building.

What can you do to help prevent soil erosion? Consulting with a professional is your best option since they can provide you with a customized plan based upon the location of your home or business.  They will likely look at your property to ensure that runoffs have been designed, and to also ensure that …

The Brush cutter – A versatile piece of equipment

The brush cutter overcomes various problems making it a fantastic piece of equipment for any landscaping company.  First, what is a brush cutter? A brush cutter is a heavy-duty piece of Earthmoving equipment designed for clearing areas that are overgrown with grass and other types of vegetation.  Unlike a lawnmower, a brush cutter can easily cut through tall grass, small bushes and even small trees, giving a landscaper the ability to quickly clear an area of unwanted vegetation.  If you have an acreage property that has been neglected, a paddock that needs to be cleared, or you need to cut a path through an area with a lot of plant life, then a brush cutter is the ideal tool for the job.

Time is money, most people have heard that phrase, and that’s true with landscaping and excavation work.  Our people, as great as they are, don’t work for free.  That’s why employing the right tool for the right situation is so important.  A brush cutter lets one person do what would normally take a team of several people much more time to complete.  Using a brush cutter lets us get an area cleared quickly, allowing us to keep a project moving along on the planned timeframe.

Brush cutters are very powerful attachments designed to cut through thick brush and vegetation.  They take a lot of abuse and are built with that in mind.  They also require a lot of power to do what they do, and they use a heavy, high-speed blade for cutting through thick underbrush.  What does all this mean? It means that like any other powerful machine, it takes someone with the proper training to operate it safely.  This makes it perfect to make your property firebreak complaint.

If a brush cutter’s blade strikes a branch or tree at the wrong angle it may not be able to cut through it.  All the energy that is being used to cut through something must go somewhere, and that’s usually right back into the handle.  This can be very jarring for anyone not used to operating a brush cutter, which may cause them to lose control over the machine.  Our professionals know what to expect if this happens, and more importantly, they know how to avoid it.  They understand how to operate a brush cutter while avoiding hitting things with the wrong part of the blade.

Brush cutters are powerful machines, but they still require a human component, and they can be very tiring to use, especially if you have a large area to clear.  Accidents and fatigue often go hand in hand, which is why we have our operators work as a team.  By switching off periodically and taking breaks they can keep the process moving along while avoiding fatigue, which reduces the risk of an accident.

We also take excellent care of our brush cutters, just like we do with the rest of our equipment.  Each time, before being used, we thoroughly inspect our brush cutters …