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5 Facts About Excavation in Portland Oregon

Excavation is the first step in any major construction project. No roads get paved and no homes get built unless the land they’re going to sit on has been properly cleared and prepared. Despite the vital nature of excavation, the average homeowner still may be a bit in the dark about the whole process. If you find yourself in need of some excavation expertise, never fear! We’re here and ready to help.

Our passion may be tree care, but that isn’t our only area of expertise. In addition to our first-rate arboreal skills, Mr. Tree is also proud to offer a wide array of services and knowledge for excavation in Portland, Oregon. If you’re a bit overwhelmed by the whole process, we’re more than happy to help you find your bearings. Here are five facts about excavation in Portland, Oregon.

Research Is Vital

Before you break ground on your new project, you’ll need to do your research. There’s only so much you can know before actually getting down in the dirt, but you’ll be thankful for any information you can arm yourself with. As part of your research, you’ll need to get in touch with the local government. Any and all major excavations in Portland, Oregon, should be brought to their attention, as they may be able to provide you with additional information about the underground environment on your property. More importantly, they’ll let you know if you’re permitted by local laws to begin excavation at all.

If you really want to go the extra mile, some people even utilize radar technology to get an accurate picture of what’s beneath the surface. This gives you a clearer idea of what’s actually underground at the excavation site, as well as alerts you to any voids that you may not be aware of. You don’t necessarily need to be that prepared for every project, but it certainly can’t hurt. At the end of the day, the more you know before starting work the better.

Utility Companies Must Be Notified

Many of the utilities and services we rely on in a modern city lie right beneath our noses, buried underground where they can do their jobs without us ever even noticing. Since the major arteries of this network are buried safely away from the general population, utility providers don’t have to worry about anyone accidentally cutting the internet to a city block or damaging sewage lines. But the moment you decide to begin excavation on your property, you run the risk of doing just that.

As part of your research, you’ll need to determine if there are any important utilities beneath your property. Before beginning any excavation in Portland, Oregon, be sure to touch base with your local utility providers. They’ll be able to help you coordinate your construction plans with any existing infrastructure you may not be aware of. If you don’t take the time to reach out, you might run the risk of digging up your neighbor’s cable connection. Once you get the all-clear, you’ll be free to start digging.

Excavation Is the Most Unpredictable Kind of Construction Work

Any kind of construction project comes with a certain level of unpredictability. It involves heavy machinery, raw construction materials, and a whole lot of difficult manual labor, all adding up to what can be a pretty hazardous environment. Even compared to that, excavation is the most unpredictable and dangerous part of any project.


First of all, whenever you start digging anywhere, you’re setting yourself up for a world of surprises. Since the water tables, environment, and existing infrastructure are going to be different at any site, it’s hard to plan for everything that might happen. You can and should reduce the risks by doing your research, but excavation itself is unpredictable no matter where you’re working. Any seasoned construction professional can tell you that unpredictability can be dangerous.

Safety Is Paramount

OSHA statistics show that the injury rate for excavation is significantly higher than that of other construction work, listing “employee injury from collapse” as the primary risk. When you begin any excavation project, it’s your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone working on it. This means using the standard safety equipment needed for any construction project, such as eye and ear protection, as well as primary protective systems that can be used to strategically excavate and prevent the risk of collapse. These primary systems are sloping, shoring, and shielding.

Sloping, also called benching, is cutting back the trench wall at an angle away from excavation to reduce the chances of earth falling back into it. Shoring and shielding work on similar principles, employing hydraulic supports and trench boxes, respectively, to reinforce trench walls and prevent collapses.

In addition to these systems, it’s essential that you establish a point of egress should there be any kind of immediate danger to the construction professionals working during excavation. A safety plan is of utmost importance to any excavation project, and it’s not something we recommend anyone coming up with on their own. To ensure the safety of everyone working, you’ll need the help of a professional.

Only Trained Professionals Should Attempt Excavation

An experienced professional is crucial to laying the groundwork for any construction project—literally! Due to the unpredictability and danger that can come with excavation, it’s not recommended for the average homeowner to attempt the job themselves. OSHA requires that there be a “competent person” on-site to inspect all work done daily, ensuring all safety measures are being observed. This person is someone who “is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards or working conditions that are hazardous, unsanitary, or dangerous” and take proper action to correct the situation before any harm is done.

We’re proud to have such competent people here at Mr. Tree, and they’re available to handle any and all excavation in Portland, Oregon. Whether you need to clear away debris after a landslide or prepare land for a new road, or you’re finally ready to start building that addition you’ve been talking about for years, our team is here to help you get from planning to completion.