Digging Deeper | Excavations for your home
WORDS/INTERVIEW Clare Chapman IMAGES Scott Espie
Renovation from Tim Walters +above
Tips for planning an excavation
We spoke to Refresh Renovations renovation consultant Tim Walters about what to consider when planning an excavation.
Renovate: What is the first thing to think about if you're looking at excavating?
Tim Walters: If you're going to excavate under an existing property, the key is how much space you have available. The more you room already available under the house, the less you have to excavate and the more you can reduce the costs. The Bassons' house in Birkdale had about 2.4 metres at the highest point, and at the least, about 1.6 metres available, which was ideal.
R: What are common issues with excavation projects?
TW: Different areas have different issues for excavation work, but a common one is coming across volcanic rock, which can be very costly. Public stormwater pipes are another one. The rules are strict about what work can be done around them but they aren't always exactly where they are meant to be, or as deep as they should be and this can cause problems.
R: Do you need to plan for dirt removal?
TW: If you can redistribute the soil on site, you'll save a lot of money on disposal fees. It's not cheap to get rid of soil. Often excavations are on sloping sites so it can easily be redistributed to flatten out the section and make the backyard into a more useable space, which is what we did in this project.
R: Are there any council restrictions to consider?
TW: Each council is different but on Auckland's North Shore, for example, if we had extended the existing footprint of the Birkdale house by more than 25m2, we would have had to put in more water tanks under the storm water restrictions - a very expensive process. In this case we were able to extend just 24m2 as a result of utilising the space under the property and avoid extra costs in this way.
R: When is the best time of year to excavate?
TW: You generally only need a couple of weeks for a domestic excavation but the weather can greatly extend a programme. During this excavation at Birkdale, the schedule was put out by about four weeks as a result of persistent rain in spring, which was unlucky.
R: Other things to consider?
TW: There needs to be enough space for a digger to access the property and if you're planning to take dirt off site, both a truck and a digger will need to be able to access the area. Problems with access can have a big impact on a project.
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