Digging for the Basement Wall
By now you will know which residential general contractor will build your new home. He/she will float an excavator in to dig the basement hole. The hole has to be about 6 feet bigger than the actual size of the wall, this should give the contractor about 3 feet of working space all the way around the basement wall. Contractors will have a specific size they are comfortable with and will usually tell the excavator operator what they want. The hole needs to be bigger in case the banks fall in. The mud is difficult to dig out once the concrete forms are in place. The banks could also cave in and destroy the forms.
Never dig the basement hole unless you have the concrete form contractors there to set the footing course up. If it rains before the form contractors get there you can expect a muddy mess to work in. You will possibly need to bring the excavator back to dig it out again. Keep children away from the open hole and out of the hole. The bank could cave in on them and bury them alive or cause serious injury.
The basement wall area should be marked out with orange paint or stakes. It is most important that your excavator operator knows exactly where to dig. You have to decide where the fill from the hole will go that you dig out. Some lots need extra fill and some lots don’t need any. You may have to have dump trucks there to haul the fill away to another location. It is possible for you to sell your fill to a neighbor that has a low spot to fill in. These things need to be lined up in advance so the dump truck drivers know exactly where to go when they are loaded.
Fill is worth a lot of money these days so don’t give it away. Selling your fill will help pay for the excavator that is doing the digging. You can also work a deal with your neighbor where you pay for the excavator and he pays for the trucks. Be careful not too haul too much away and end up having to haul some back in again.
Your next step is to set the concrete forms up, it is extremely important that you have the top of the basement wall a certain height. If your lot is level with the main road you want the top of the concrete wall at least a foot higher than the road. Your driveway needs to run up hill to the new home so the water runs away from it. Your concrete wall needs to be at a level where water runs away all the way around the house.
If your lot is lower than the road you can dig the basement hole and pile the fill around the hole to build it up. The excavator operator should be familiar with the different ways of digging a basement. He should also know that he needs to build a road around the basement hole for concrete trucks.
Every setting is different so you have to weigh out all of your options and make the best decision for the new home and the lot. Once the basement wall is poured and the forms are off you can pour the basement floor.
Water drainage is so important for keeping a dry basement. Redirect water from around the new home and let it run to an open ditch. You also need to have a drain that leads to an open ditch. A builder’s level comes in handy when doing this kind of work. You need to know the grade of the closest ditch so the bottom of the basement wall is at a grade that is high enough to let water flow to the ditch. The drainage work and a couple of other things need to be done before you backfill.