How Much Does It Cost To Dig A Basement?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021 by

I’ve always wanted to construct my own home, however, one of the primary reasons why I didn’t was because I was unsure about digging a basement on my own. I decided, eventually, that if I decided to construct my own home, then I’d need to hire someone to dig the basement on my behalf The main issue was what would it cost to excavate an underground space?

The price to build the basement is about fifty dollars per cubic foot, but the cost can differ depending on a variety of factors. The soil with huge boulders or hardpan – very dense clays – could increase the cost. If the land isn’t yet cleared, anticipate the cost per cubic foot will be more.

We’ll go over the costs involved in excavating basements. Also, you’ll get an understanding of the costs contractors set out excavation so that when the time arrives to dig, there’ll be no surprise costs.

how much does it cost to dig a basement

Basement Excavation: What are the Cost Factors?

The cost of digging a basement for the construction of a house is dependent on many elements. Although $50 per cubic yard of soil is the average it could be lower or even more, depending on the terrain of the land being excavated.

The dimension of the basement is the primary element. Are you digging for your mansion’s basement or is it a basic bungalow? What do you plan to do with the dirt that is you are removing? Are you planning to use it to be used for landscaping? These questions will determine the cost of the basement excavation.

Contractors add excavating expenses to the cost per cubic yard. So, even though one basement construction could cost you $50 per cubic yard, the next could be worth $200. Let’s examine the factors which affect a basement excavation

Soil Type

What type of soil do you plan on digging into? Sols like sand, silt, or loam are easy to eliminate since they tend to be lightweight and loose. Furthermore, the excavator’s operator is able to perform more efficiently in these kinds of soils, which can reduce the cost.

If you have huge boulders or hardpan highly compacted clay, it will be harder to excavate. If the rocks are too big, the contractor could have to hire another (larger) machine and this will incur expenses.

how much does it cost to dig a basement under an existing house

Fill Removal

What happens to the soil after it’s removed? If you do not need it, it will need to be removed by the dump truck. The contractor you hire to excavate will presume you need a dump truck and is incorporated into the cost of the average mentioned in the previous paragraph.

But, certain basement excavations reuse the dirt to fill in the backfill after the basement is constructed. Other people may utilize the extra fill for “cut and fill”, which refers to the procedure of digging up one land area and filling another area to ensure more drainage.

Cutting and filling the basement fill may cause additional costs in the event that there is a great deal of grading that needs to be completed. If, however, the contractor is reusing all of the fill for backfilling the area and spreading it out, this could lower the cost of your cubic yard since no dump truck or cutting or filling is required.


If your land requires extensive graders, this will take a longer time than the excavator operator must invest in their machine. The longer the machine runs, the higher expense, so expect the 50 cubic yards of average will rise.

Basements constructed on slopes or in deep valleys of nature will have to be graded more than basements that are already at the grade.

Land Clearing

When it is time to dig basements, it is typically the case for the land to have been free of trees and other obstacles. If the land isn’t cleared and is surrounded by several trees or other obstructions, you’ll be required to pay an additional fee to prepare the land to be excavated.

If you have huge trees that must be cut down, you’ll require a tree removal service to get rid of the trees. The cost can range from $500-$10,000 or more if you have several trees or even a few that are tall.

If the land isn’t cleared but contains bush, the excavating company can deal with the job and could only be able to add a couple of hundred dollars to the cost.

basement addition

Basement Depth

A standard basement of 8′ typically isn’t 8 feet deep in the ground. If you’re looking to build a finished basement, it’s necessary to have windows in the basement that you could theoretically escape from in the event of an emergency. This means that you’ll need at least 30″ of your basement above the grade, if not more.

For foundation footings for basements and concrete slabs, the excavator might have to dig 8′ or more. More deep excavations translate to larger quantities of dirt, which implies more expense.

The size of the basement

The dimensions of your basement are the most crucial aspect in determining the price for digging your basement. If your house is massive, you will need to pay a lot more to excavate, as excavation and grading costs will be higher, too.

Below, we’ll look at an example of what a 1000 square foot basement excavation would cost.

Cost to Dig a Basement – New Construction

The price to build an entirely new basement for a new house is about $50 for each cubic foot taken away. This includes the grading process and the removal of the additional fill if needed.

If a house is constructed by a contractor, which means you’re not performing the construction by yourself, then the price might be considerably lower. Contractors have access to equipment and may even do the excavations at cost.

If you engage a contractor or someone to simply excavate, you’re paying the cost of labor and materials and materials, which makes the cost much more.

Can You Dig an Existing Basement Deeper?

Yes, you can dig your existing basement deeper. This is known by the name of “underpinning”, and involves taking away the concrete floor, then digging out from the inside, and then digging under the foundations of the concrete floor to build the foundation. After this then a new floor and walls are laid down under the footings of the old ones.

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Another, less costly and more efficient option is “benching. In lieu of pouring fresh foundation wall under the foundation that was previously laid The new wall is built within the inside the rim of the footing, and then slopes upwards until 18”.

It’s not as attractive because it creates an internal “bench” around the perimeter of your basement, which causes you to reduce space. However, it is cheaper.

Benefits to Digging a Basement Deeper

There are numerous benefits of having a basement that is deeper. It’s a big task, but often it’s the only option that a homeowner can use to add living space to their home. If you reside in an area that has limited space, and also a high cost of living, then digging out an underpinning basement is an excellent option to extend your home.

Here are a few advantages of a foundation:

  • More space
  • There are fewer building code restrictions, and the size of the home isn’t changed
  • Transforms an unusable area into living space
  • Basement apartment options
  • A complete basement renovation, including waterproofing
  • The underpinning of a few areas is minimally detrimental to the landscaping of the exterior.
  • It allows for the possibility of an additional entrance to the home

Do I Need Permits for Digging Basement Deeper?

You require a permit in order to build a basement that is deeper. Additionally, you must have your plans endorsed by a structural engineer and. If the renovation alters the building structure it is mandatory to require a building permit.

Cost to Dig a Basement Under an Existing House

The price of benching and underpinning the basement is determined using linear feet. So, if you’ve got the basement size of 40×20, you will have 120 linear feet.

Underpinning costs on average, 350 dollars for each linear foot. Benching costs less, approximately 250 dollars per square foot.

For our basement of 40×20, it will be 120 x 350 which is 42,000 dollars for underpinning your basement. If you’d like for benching instead, it will cost 120 x 250 = $30,000. to build a bench in our basement.

Is It Worth Digging Out a Basement?

Yes, if you can’t construct your home in a straight line or up because of restricted space and building limitations the cost is worthwhile. 

However, it’s probably only beneficial in areas where the value of homes is high. If you’re spending $50,000 to add 700 square feet of space to your basement may be better spent on an apartment with the basement fully finished.

If you reside in a place that has the highest cost of living, such as Austin, Toronto, Bay Area having an apartment that you can live in is an excellent alternative. If you can convert the property into a rental the renovation will be paid for within a couple of years. Even if you want to keep the property as a home for yourself, it’ll remain a good investment.

Excavation Cost Calculator

If you are trying to figure out the cost for you to excavate, it is logical to utilize to use an excavating cost calculator. Using this tool can assist you in getting more accurate estimates and, it will also help you when making phone calls to contractors in your area.

How Much Will My Basement Excavation Cost?

You can make use of our calculator for excavation costs to calculate the price of excavation for an area 40’x20′ to build a new home. We’ll take a standard depth that is 5′. That’s approximately 140 cubic yards of soil that needs to be taken away.

With our typical cost of $50 to excavate basements by multiplying 150×140. We’ll get just under $7000 to excavate a 40x20x5 basement.

How Long Will It Take to Excavate a Basement?

In most basements, an experienced excavator operator is able to dig the hole within a day. But, the excavation may not be finished as the following day could require a different machine to bring dirt until it is graded.

Additionally, even though excavators can be used quickly but there are problems with the loading of dump trucks. In many cases, contractors must wait for trucks to transfer fill, which can increase the amount of duration of the project.

Can Basement Excavating Remove a Hill in My Yard?

Yes, an excavator will take away a portion of a hill within your yard if it is the area where your new basement will be. While you’ll have an unfinished basement, it’ll lead to less excavation for the contractor, thus reducing the price.

Can Basement Excavating Happen in Winter?

Excavating can happen in winter, however, it’s not the ideal choice due to a variety of reasons. If you’re in a region that experiences melting and freezing, and tons of snow, you’ll have an enormous puddle in springtime.

If the soil you’re using is clay-based it is likely that you will need to have the hole you excavated removed before footings are laid. There is also an opportunity that the ground will shift in Spring, altering size as well as the vertical dimensions of the footprint for your basement.

The ideal time to dig an underground area is in spring, which gives the construction workers the maximum benefit of the warmer part of the year to build their homes. However, if you reside in a region that has little or no winter, you are able to excavate anytime.

Can I Excavate a Basement Myself?

You can dig your basement on your own as long as you find the right machine rental service which will lease you a large enough backhoe. It will require a machine of at least fifteen tons, or even more in order to effectively dig your basement.

If the task is less it is possible to work by using a 10-ton backhoe. This is one instance but larger is always better. The bigger the bucket that is on your machine the more efficient the job will be. If you rent by the hour and speed is essential, then speed is vital.

Additionally, operating an excavator is a skill that requires. If you’ve never worked with one before, it could take you some time to get some familiarity with it. Sites that have lots of obstacles, or homes in the vicinity aren’t the best places for learning to use the backhoe. You need to hire an experienced operator instead.

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