Householders are increasingly looking to basement renovations to create extra living space rather than building an extension.
Basements provide a flexible option for an additional room. They’re typically turned into a second living room, home cinema, entertainment space, home office or gym, and can also be used as multi-purpose areas split into different zones for a wide range of other activities.
Many basement conversions entail digging out the floor to create adequate ceiling height for a comfortable living space. This preparatory work is critical to pave the way for a successful basement renovation.
Get it right and you’ll have a new living space to be proud of that will potentially increase the value of your home.
Get it wrong, and you’re looking at problems that could affect the structural integrity of your property and result in substantial additional costs to put things right.
That’s why it’s essential to find an experienced, reliable excavation contractor for your basement renovation.
Basement Conversion Mistakes a Professional Earthmoving Contractor Will Avoid
Earthmoving for a new basement is a job that’s plagued by potential pitfalls for the amateur. Engaging a professional, trustworthy excavation contractor will avoid these costly mistakes and ensure your basement upgrade runs smoothly – on schedule and within budget.
Specialist earthmoving contractors will know how to avoid snags such as:
One of the most common problems in DIY basement excavations is flooding due to a high water table or heavy rain. To avoid this, a good earthmoving contractor will use tools like sump pumps to collect the water and direct it away from the site.
Soil collapse during excavations can be potentially fatal. An experienced basement earthmoving contractor will take specific measures to avoid cave-ins. These steps include:
- Shoring up the sides of the excavation with braces.
- Sloping the sides of the dig.
- Using trench boxes to protect workers against the weight of soil.
This is more of a problem concerning property rights rather than the excavation itself, but a professional earthmoving contractor will be able to advise you whether a boundary survey is necessary to ensure your new basement doesn’t encroach beneath a neighbour’s home.
Companies Earthmoving contractors in Melbourne often come across obstacles such as boulders and tunnels. They can also encounter unmarked utility lines.
Penetrating an electricity line can cause electric shock as well as a power cut; cutting into a gas pipe may result in a dangerous leak; and breaking a water pipe can cause flooding. Professional earthmovers always expect the unexpected, so risks like these are greatly reduced.
Question to Ask a Basement Earthmoving Contractor
Hiring a professional basement excavation company will safeguard against the type of errors frequently made by amateurs and contractors who may turn out to be lacking in professionalism and experience.
To make sure you find the right excavation company for your basement renovation, it pays to ask prospective contractors a few questions, such as:
- What experience do you have in basement excavation jobs similar to mine?
- Can you show me financial references?
- How many other projects are you likely to have on the go at the same time as mine?
- Can you provide me with a list of previous clients?
The answers to these questions should give you a good idea of the contractor’s dependability and availability, and how smoothly your basement earthmoving project will run.
What to Look for When Asking for Bids
Once you’ve come up with a short-list of basement excavation contractors with a proven track record, it’s time to ask for bids. Request a breakdown of the costs of materials, labour and other expenses. Expect to see a profit margin of 15-20 per cent.
If an estimate looks too good to be true, it probably is. An unrealistically low bid may mean the contractor will be cutting corners on your project. So, don’t be guided on price alone –quality of workmanship and equipment should be a higher priority.
How Having a Good Contractor Gives You Peace of Mind
Hiring the right earthmoving contractor for your new basement will give you the peace of mind that comes with taking the uncertainty out of the whole project
While it may be tempting to adopt a DIY approach, an experienced basement earthmoving contractor will save you a lot of time and hassle, and they won’t make the sort of costly mistakes amateurs inflict on themselves.
They’ll also carry out the job with the safety of you and your property as a top priority, safeguarding against risks such as flooding, soil collapse, or damaging utility cables and pipes.
Paul Henshall is a retired construction manager who worked for over 20 years in commercial projects. He is also a construction management graduate, and now writes full time for various construction publications.