Earthmoving Vehicle At Work In Front Of A House

How to Choose an Earthmoving Contractor: 5 Things to Do BEFORE Hiring

For construction projects of any scale, site preparation is the foundation (quite literally) of the task. Even for homeowners, projects like overhauling the yard or backyard landscaping will require at least some excavation work. And that requires support from a reliable earthmoving contractor or an excavation company.

But just how to select it and what to pay attention to?

Chances of a bad hire are higher than you can imagine. Sadly, you will find online a myriad of stories of disastrous earthmoving contractor encounters.

That makes it important to invest time in research and read the fine details to ensure the contractor is professional and trustworthy.

So here’s what you need to know.

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Excavation Contractor

Excavator Machine Working In Front Of A Residential House

An excavation contractor lays the groundwork for any construction project by shaping the site. These activities include digging the side, ensuring a level surface, trenching, soil compaction, and more. Considering the importance of the work, it’s not hard to see why the global construction equipment rental market is expected to go through the roof.

The importance of the work makes it necessary to review a contractor thoroughly before selection. These 5 pointers can act as your guideline.

1. Do the Research

Researching all contractors in your area and checking out their experience is the first step towards finding the best option. While checking reviews is a good start, do not stick to online research only. Take suggestions from family, friends, and neighbours who have completed similar projects in the past.

Once an initial list is ready, it’s time to dig deeper by asking for references. A contractor with a good track record will not hesitate to provide the names and phone numbers of recent customers. Focus on the word ‘recent’ as it will prevent contractors from furnishing you with a cherry-picked list of their favourite customers.

Next, you should actually call the references and ask about the quality of work, the contractor’s ability to meet deadlines, and their customer handling skills. Even better, go for an informal inspection of these past works that are similar to your project to check the quality of the work.

2. Ask for Site Inspection

Before estimating the time and cost, the contractor needs to carry out a site inspection. This one’s also important to determine if there are specific issues with the site. Also, many of the above or underground obstacles that can hinder earthmoving work can’t be identified without an onsite visit. However, before asking for a site visit, make sure that you have a basic plan for the project’s execution.

Additionally, possible bottlenecks can be identified during the site inspection. Pinning them down will help you to avoid delays and extra cost during execution. Besides, a visit allows you to meet the contractor face to face and assess their professionalism and flexibility. 

The point is, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Check if the contractor is willing to listen to your views and can suggest practical alternatives to meet the project timeline.

All of the above also means you should steer clear of any contractors who could be offering a quote without paying a visit to the site. It’s a huge red flag in this industry!

3. Check Experience and Qualifications

Naturally, the contractor needs to have experience in handling similar projects and sufficient technical knowledge as well. Checking the certifications of the team will help you learn about the skills that the team will bring to the project.

The advantage of using skilled workers and operators is they’ll know how to plan asset resources.

For you, this ultimately comes down to the final dollar amount of the project. And that will heavily depend on how the manpower is allocated, where and when and how many people are needed, which machinery is required and when

Besides, they will use this heavy equipment more efficiently. For example, a costlier and more advanced machine may do the job faster and cut down the total cost. Plus, an experienced team will be knowledgeable about the necessary safety guidelines and local regulations.

Now, you may be hesitant about picking newer companies without years of work experience. That’s fair enough. But remember that it doesn’t mean that such a contractor doesn’t have knowledgeable and experienced staff to manage the work.

It’s critical to check that the contractor is running a legitimate business and has a valid license. You can check for both their licenses and the Australian Business Number (ABN) online. A responsible business owner will also meet all insurance requirements as per the laws and regulations. That way, you won’t have any liability concerns in case of an unfortunate accident, injury, or ecological damage.

4. Check the Equipment

Operator Of A Heavy Machine

A large chunk of the total budget of a construction project is consumed by heavy earth-moving machinery. Since the selection of equipment is crucial, checking out the contractor’s fleet of equipment is a good idea. That way, you will find out if they are well-equipped to meet the specific needs of as small or as large a project as you need.

It’s not just about being well-equipped either. Proper maintenance can also have a huge impact.

Simply put, the contractor should have enough resources to devote to your project and ensure timely completion. Then again, choosing a contractor who uses equipment from a reputable brand will ensure higher reliability.

There are numerous instances of how the choice of the wrong equipment resulted in damage and costly delays in the project work. The selection depends on multiple factors like project size, terrain, construction targets, and the type of material to be removed. Discuss, if versatile equipment that can perform more than one task will be a better choice for the project. 

For example, a small site in a residential area with limited access will need a smaller excavator or a bobcat with a short turning radius. A contractor with a fleet of heavy earth movers will not be the right fit for the job. Moreover, a large machine operating at part load will raise costs. 

5. Get More Than One Quote

While price is not the only factor you should consider, it is a vital one. Always get quotes from multiple contractors to perform a fair price analysis. Since earthmoving tasks vary depending on the site conditions, there are no fixed costs. That keeps the doors open for negotiations once you receive the quotes.

A professional contractor will provide you with a detailed estimate outlining the scope of work. Beyond that, they will also list the anticipated costs and the total time needed for work completion. 

That said, you will find that not all quotes are equally crafted. While some constructors will break down the details for you, others will only provide a general outline.

Go through each quote number by number to check for hidden costs or missing details. Ideally, the contract should include additional services like site cleanup after the job is complete. Before finalising, perform a comprehensive risk assessment to account for cost escalations. Probable causes for this are inclement weather and site-specific issues.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, choosing the right earthmoving service is about more than just typing in a “how to choose an earthworks contractor” search and reviewing the gathered information. You need due diligence to pick the right company. Although the task can be overwhelming, when done right, it will save you a lot of headache down the line.

Admittedly, almost every commercial and residential construction project will involve a few surprises. But, by selecting the right constructor, you will be better positioned to manage a complex earthmoving job efficiently.


How do I choose an excavation team?

You can choose an excavation team by comparing their past work standards, experience, and quality of service. Also, check their licenses and certifications.

What is the purpose of site excavation?

Excavation involves the removal of soil, rocks, or other materials and prepares a foundation for the project work to commence. It also involves cutting and filling to prepare a level surface for the work.

What is the rate of excavation per day?

The hourly rates for an excavator can range between $70 to $160 per hour. The rates will vary hugely depending on the nature of the work and equipment used.