Home improvements are normally a great idea; they can add value to your property and extend its functional lifespan for your needs and save you from having to move. Adding things like an extension, a conservatory or even a swimming pool can all have a positive impact on the value of your property. The same goes for landscaping; giving your garden and surrounding land a facelift is great for the presentation of your home, even if you’re not trying to sell it. However, all of these larger-scale projects require either soil to be removed, foundations to be laid or excavation near the existing foundations of your property. This is something that must be approached methodically and with great care.
What are the risks?
Failing to take proper preparatory measures before starting to excavate your land, both near and far from existing foundations can come with a very real risk of actual harm and the possibility of severe damage to existing structures. This is due to the presence of underground services that may or may not be lurking under the ground where you want to dig. Should you accidentally hit one of these whilst digging then you risk at least a severe escape of water and at worst a severe electric shock or gas explosion?
What precautions can I take?
The simplest answer to this is to thoroughly research and plan any work you intend to carry out. Planning is the real key to avoiding any unpleasant surprises during your building work and the best place to start is by requesting existing cable and piping plans from your local council or planning office. They should hold a record of your property’s construction and any pipes, sewers and electrical conduits that have been installed around your land. Knowing where these services are located will give you a very good idea of potential issues you are going to encounter before you start work. If the plans are not available, are incomplete or you believe there is a reason to investigate further then a locating company will be able to find your underground services safely.
How can I dig safely?
Once you are satisfied that you have completely identified and located all of the services that are, or are not, buried under the site you wish to develop and you have detailed plans of the project, then you can finally begin work. Even though you can be fairly certain from existing plans and surveys, you should never trust anything completely and proceed with caution. Whenever you start digging you should start with a pilot hole and then gradually extend it until the service has been uncovered. Make sure that you dig alongside the service, not directly on top of it and if things are going to be directly in the way, make sure that you contact the service provider and negotiate to have the service relocated professionally – never attempt to interfere with them yourself.