Ace Construction Texas

What Is Excavation? Understanding the Excavation Process in Austin

Sometimes, a construction project involves a little more than your average dig. 

At Ace Construction, we are experts in the various types of excavation and managing projects quickly, safely, and efficiently. Contact the team to speak to a professional about excavations- and what they mean for your project.

The Quick Answer: What Is Excavation?

To put it simply, excavation removes soil, earth, or rock to create a hole or cavity in the surface. An excavation site may look like an opening, a deep trench, or even just a depression of some depth. It is technically defined as any of the above changes to the earth’s surface formed by manual earth removal.

Excavation projects use heavy machinery and sometimes even explosives; several categories are used differently.

What Is Excavation

What Are the Types of Excavation Projects?

There are many types of excavation. The types of projects are categorized by material and purposes, and the processes used in each one vary greatly.

Types of Excavation by Material

Here are the six types of excavation divided into materials.

  • Sand and fine soil: A basic type of excavation work, sand, and fine soil erosion is sometimes used to clear and prepare an area for a construction project but is more commonly for removing materials to be packed and transported elsewhere.
  • Topsoil: Topsoil excavation is arguably the most common. It removes anything hindering construction, including vegetation, soil, roots, and other natural materials.
  • Rock: One of the more challenging excavations by the material is rock removal. It requires heavy equipment and can take more time, but preparing unsuitable terrain for building is essential.
  • Muck: Muck (created by loose soil mixing with water) excavation is less common in construction but is used in nature protection and to stop it from getting into rivers and lakes.
  • Earth: Earth lies below the topsoil, and deeper excavations will need to remove it to lay down structural foundation footings.
  • Liquid: Most commonly seen after flooding or storms as part of environmental restoration efforts, liquid excavation removes excess water from places it shouldn’t be.

Types of Excavation by Purpose

In total, there are eight types of excavation based on their purpose. Some are more common on the construction scene than others- since some are specific to certain jobs you don’t see daily.

  • Cut and fill

Also known as stripping, cut-and-fill excavation prepares areas for a construction project. It involves removing topsoil, earth, and sometimes rock or sand to create a stable and level space free from obstacles or anything that could hinder the ability to work.

  • Trenching

Trenching is a specific excavation used when installing, repairing, or replacing underground utilities. It is also used for construction work on sewers and foundations that exceed a certain depth. Because of how deep trench excavating can be, it must be approached cautiously, and many methods are available to adapt to various situations.

  • Basement

As the name suggests, basement excavation removes a large ground area to create space for a basement. Most modern residential buildings require excavation for basements, and there are many different processes to help construction companies make it happen.

  • Dredging

Dredging removes sediment from beneath the ground that can interfere with stability and make it dangerous for vehicles to move around.

  • Borrowing

Excavation is not always about removal- sometimes, the goal is to take materials from one place to use elsewhere. Sand excavation is often used in the construction process to take materials to mix with concrete.

  • Drainage

Drainage excavation is more precise than many other forms. It involves getting into drainage systems such as pipes and plumbing- usually during repairs and blockage removals or when it is time for systems to be replaced.

  • Channeling

Although not often seen in everyday construction projects, channel excavation controls water flow and sediment buildup. It can be pre-emptive or in response to flooding or blockage issues.

  • Bridge

Lastly, bridges have their form of excavation that creates the most durable, stable, and strong foundation possible.

How Does the Excavation Process Work?

The excavation process is different depending on the type of project. In every case, it involves digging to an approved depth and removing natural material to X feet deep. How exactly that is achieved varies, but heavy equipment is required most of the time.

Before excavation work begins, corner benchmarks are laid out, and the area is surveyed. Sometimes, scans are required to locate pipes and other sub-terrain obstacles. Necessary precautions are taken to prepare the area and protect surrounding objects and buildings.

Loose soil is taken away, then the digging begins. Once a certain depth is reached, protective barriers are put in place to stabilize the cavity.



Excavation is a vital part of many projects. Without it, the building may have insufficient support for the foundation and could be at risk of collapsing or subsiding.

Working with a construction team with extensive training and experience handling excavating work is important. Ace Construction is the first choice for impeccable workmanship and service. Contact us today for more information.

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