What Is the Cost for a Basement Excavation?

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You don't need to have a lot of knowledge about home construction to know that a basement excavation isn't going to be cheap. The cost to dig a basement varies greatly from house to house because so many factors affect the scope and difficulty of the job. It can be fairly simple and inexpensive for a contractor to dig out a basement as the first step in building a new home and more complicated to add a basement to an existing home. In any case, expect the total cost to dig a basement to be somewhere in the five figures.

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What Might a Basement Excavation Cost?

Because prices vary widely, you can't calculate the cost of building a basement without getting local contractors to give you their estimates for an excavation. The cost to dig out a basement can range from around $30 to $75 per square foot, though some homeowners might be quoted even lower or higher prices.

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Bear in mind that a basement excavation must be meticulously planned by an architect, structural engineer, or other professional who can evaluate the site and draw up specific plans for workers to follow. Some construction firms have in-house resources for creating building plans, but homeowners may also commission their own plans from an architect before hiring a contractor, which will cost several thousand dollars before excavation begins.

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Factors Affecting Excavation Costs

Will your project be on the lower end of the price spectrum or the higher end? The size of your basement will naturally affect your overall costs, but what your contractor charges per square foot of basement space depends on many factors. For one, how difficult is access? Can the workers easily get their equipment to the site? Soil makeup is important too. It will be easier and cheaper to dig out ground that's mostly dirt compared to excavating a site that's filled with rocks and boulders.

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Geography is also a factor affecting price. You'll generally pay more for a basement excavation in an expensive urban area than you'd pay in a rural area. Your distance from the contractor might matter too since their costs for transporting heavy machinery to your home and hauling away excavated dirt might be passed on to you. As costs for fuel and materials go up and down, those shifts are reflected in what contractors charge.

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Creating or enlarging a basement in an existing home is naturally more complicated than digging out a basement for a new home, which means it's also a more expensive project. Not just any contractor has the expertise and skilled crew necessary to excavate a basement while protecting the structural integrity of the home.

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These factors will affect not only the cost of a basement excavation but also how long the project takes. Anywhere from several days to several weeks is possible. An expected project timeline is just one of the things that should be included in your remodeling contract before any work begins.

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Other Costs After Excavation

As you budget for the project, bear in mind that the costs of adding a basement extend far beyond the excavation itself. First, there's the cost of pouring foundation, which is also a major expense. For a basement of average size, the cost of the foundation might be several tens of thousands of dollars. The foundation must then be made waterproof, a process that includes installing drain systems and applying protective barriers to the new concrete walls.

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Homeowners should also account for the cost of adding plumbing and electricity to the new basement and if you're creating a walkout basement on a slope, the cost of installing windows and doors too. A skilled contractor may be able to oversee all of these projects plus install flooring and drywall so the new basement is ready for use.

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