GJ MacRae Foundation Repair

The Original Wetbasements Experts – Since 1975

Hand Excavation Vs. Machine Excavation

Author picture

Written and Edited By Gavin MacRae


Table of Contents

Let’s talk about hand excavation vs. machinery, and why we prefer the option we do. First of all, what exactly is the difference? Hand excavation is exactly what it sounds like– using a hand-held shovel to do some long, tough, sweaty labour. Machine excavation is also quite self-explanatory– it involves the use of heavy equipment that requires skilled operation.

So really, which method is better? Of course there are pros and cons to both, which we’ll break down below:

Hand Excavation

Pros: Excavating by hand is often far less expensive– there is no necessary upkeep on machinery, no fuel prices for machines that run on gas, and no hefty fees upfront on acquiring expensive machinery.

Possibly the most advantageous part of hand excavation is the precision that you are able to hone in on. Smaller tools, like a shovel, that are wielded at close range by hand means that you are able to get closer to structural elements without causing accidental damage– and if you did happen to hit some part of the structure, the damage would be far less severe than if a strong, heavy machine with much more power behind it knocked into the same element.

Cons: This form of excavation is much more taxing on a crew, with it oftentimes being labeled as “back-breaking” work. Crews will tire out faster than if they were operating machinery, and there are more likely to be injuries if workers are not paying attention to what they are doing.

The work is also more likely to take longer– using a shovel means that you’re removing less dirt with each scoop, as opposed to a large, machine-operated scoop.

Machine Excavation

Pros: Machinery won’t get tired! As long as the foreman operating the vehicle is in a state to work, they will be able to keep the machinery working for far longer than a crew that has to either take frequent breaks from hand excavating, or switching off. On this note as well, you are able to function with a smaller work crew as the machinery will do the work of multiple crew members.

Cons: Heavy machinery like this operates with far less precision, and leaves room for far more structural damage if the equipment comes up against those elements. With the machinery being operated at a much further range than a shovel in hand, work will most likely be less “tight” and leave more dirt up against the structural elements that might require hand excavation anyways!

Overall, our team chooses to operate with hand excavation for more precision and a higher-quality finish to the work we do for you.

Gavin MacRae is a professional foundation repair and basement waterproofing expert with over 20 years of experience in the field. He has extensive knowledge about foundation issues such as settlement, and cracks as well as expertise in repair techniques. Gavin is also highly skilled in basement waterproofing using interior and exterior methods. He has worked with hundreds of homeowners to provide permanent solutions to foundation and basement problems.