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Recommendation For Digging Foundation

 
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Old 09-27-2018, 06:27 PM   #1
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Recommendation For Digging Foundation


So I'm a newbie. I've done some work with a skidsteer and a mini-ex when I was redoing my backyard. Couple days with a rental unit, but I'm a newbie (I did pop my "crashed into the house with a skidsteer" cherry though...)

Anyway, the wife and I are building a Guest House. Here in Tucson that's generally slab on grade, but we live on the side of a mountain, so I'm estimating there's going to be about 300 yards of dirt that need to move around (along with a bunch of mesquite trees that need to be pulled up). There's some 3-4k pound boulders that'll need dragging/moving. Plus there's a 30' long 4' deep trench that needs to be dug for a drainage culvert. I'm actually considering just purchasing a used piece of equipment from Craigslist, drive it around for a few weeks/months, and then try to resell it. Having a heavy piece of equipment around during construction would be nice. I've got a budget of about $15k.

So, I'm wondering a few things. First, am I crazy? Next, what piece of equipment should I get? I initially thought of a small 42" bucket skid steer , (a guy here locally is selling a S630 for $12k) but I guess I'm not sure about how well a standard bucket without forks is at digging virgin dirt with lots of rocks. Would I need a mini-ex to break up the ground? Plus I'd end up having to dig the trench by hand. Not really that big a deal, but still.

Then I thought about maybe a tractor/baby backhoe. A guy I know will sell me a Kubota L48 for $11K. That would seem to be versatile, but a lot more unwieldy as it's so much longer than a skid steer, and I don't think its bucket capacities would be as great.

Anyway, just looking for some advice. Incidentally, time is something I've got some of, so if the project takes me 2 months of weekends, that's OK.
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Old 09-27-2018, 07:04 PM   #2
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


if there is no permanent need, rent.

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Old 09-27-2018, 07:11 PM   #3
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Agree with Dayexco. Thing about renting is if need a different type or a bigger unit you can get it.
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Old 09-27-2018, 07:13 PM   #4
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Not to mention break downs
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:38 PM   #5
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Hire it out.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:02 PM   #6
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Jeez, you guys are killing me with your impeccable logic and common sense! Yeah, the prudent thing here would be to hire this out, but then I wouldn't get the excuse to learn how to drive and operate a piece of really cool hardware, nor the far more important sense of satisfaction from actually doing something by myself. Renting is likely not an option just because between kids and life having an entire couple day period that I can devote entirely to working with the $350/day piece of equipment without having to run someone to soccer or take someone to get a haircut is just something that rarely comes along. Actually owning a piece of equipment means I can tool around for a few hours in the morning, deal with the kids in the afternoon, and if I run into a snag I can take the time to figure it out or jump on the forum and ask some questions. Or maybe spend an hour re-shooting grades, or maybe update my plans based on what I'm uncovering in the field. That's all hard to do with the rental time ticking away.

I just figured I'd come to the forum here and make sure I was actually buying something that could actually do the job I needed (even if it wasn't the "perfect" fit). However I'm getting the impression that the answer to my question "am I crazy for trying this" is an emphatic YES!
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:09 PM   #7
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


One breakdown could easily cost many days rent.

If you think you can get a lot of use out of the machine , and are able to do work on it , go for it

But renting is less risk and cheaper , for occasional use
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:16 PM   #8
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


would you really want to explain to the SWMBO that you blew a wad of cash on a toy or get your guest house built....
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:03 PM   #9
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Friend of mine rented an excavator to dig his foundation hole on a hillside.

He got in a sticky spot, jumped out, and got to watch it roll down the hill and burst into flames at the bottom.

My advice, hire it out and get into model trains or something


-Caleb

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Old 09-28-2018, 06:35 AM   #10
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Since you are building on a slope, dealing with erosion control (Id imagine), and have 2 ton rocks to move around I would highly recommend having someone who knows what they are doing do it. Money well spent in my opinion. Also, whats the plan for the 300 yards of fill you are removing?
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Old 09-28-2018, 09:30 AM   #11
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


There is a contractor down the road that built his own house. Took him 3 or so years. Used a backhoe for a few hours when he had a chance.

He still doesn't know how to use it, there is more to it than which levers do what. He spends most of time trying to straighten out the messes he makes.
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Old 09-28-2018, 11:47 AM   #12
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


I thought I'd shoot you an album on what we're looking at. If you're not on mobile there's comments on each of the images: https://imgur.com/a/vz8izb5

The plan for the extra 200 yards of dirt is to drop it down a 20' ripraped embankment next to my driveway. The driveway is too narrow as it is, plus there's been a bit of erosion threatening some of it.
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Old 09-28-2018, 02:57 PM   #13
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


This is work for a large trackhoe and probably a dump truck too. If you insist on self performing (bad idea in my opinion), rent one by the month. Those rigs drink a lot of fuel too, so be prepared for that.

My neighbor got it in his head that he was going to dig his own pond. Rented a big trackhoe excavator and started in on it. Pretty soon he found out that he didn't have enough reach to dig things deep enough or sling the dirt far enough away from the pond. Wound up with a crummy pond that isn't deep enough, then had to pay someone to come in with a dozer and level out all of his piles. All said & done, he probably could have just paid a professional to dig his pond for the same money, and would have gotten a much nicer pond.
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Old 09-28-2018, 09:29 PM   #14
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


I'd blast or chemically crack two ton rocks(after drilling a 18-24" deep hole in the rock...), then move the much smaller rocks down or up the hill.

Depending on the rock, 2 tons = 39 inches cubed....~42" roundish.

Everything gets BIGGER when you dig it up, soil, rock, demo, 300 yards of soil = ~400 yards of "bank" run dirt.

Think man cave/vault basement under the guest house? if the soils rock permit.

Is the soil so unstable a walk out basement/ partially earth-berm wouldn't work.

You are not in ANY EPA/ Zoning overlaying zoning that prohibits massive changes in drainage?

Remember, you don't want a completely flat lot, = flood damage when eventually it does rain heavily.

Don't forget to preserve your Native plants......

Erosion of driveway that is modifying the flow of water.... hopefully your ever bigger driveway isn't altering your neighbors' water flow on to or off of their land.... or the local governments' lots.

Love playing with rental Tonka toys, but rocks handling is much tougher to learn and and on the machinery itself then digging low rock soils like we have in fly over land.

A friend worked for RSC rentals in Colorado, and said the (2-6") rocks are tough on rubber tracked machines, it is easy to do 10,000.00$ damage on "mini" machines...
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Old 04-02-2019, 09:15 PM   #15
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Personally, I would go buy a piece of equipment that you could use for multiple things, like a skid steer. Our concrete company uses a skid steer all the time and is the best thing we have done. Once you are done, you can always rent it out to people you trust or start running it for an hourly amount. You just got to do what you think is right and follow that path. If this is the first time you have used a piece of equipment I would be kinda hesitant to use it on a hill and if you rent one and you tear it up it won't cost you as much in the end. you just got to do what you think you should and go from there.

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Old 04-03-2019, 07:28 PM   #16
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


I tend to side with the first few comments here - this doesn't seem like a permanent need so rent the equipment or subcontract the work out.
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Old 04-05-2019, 11:34 AM   #17
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


If you buy, here is a real good example of what you can expect.

I've been wanting a backhoe for the farm, so about a year ago found a pretty clean, low hours, older Case 580 that I picked up for $21,000 (They are $80-120,000 new). Ran it last summer with no problem but had a few incidental issues that are to be expected with an older machine, so I took it to the local dealer this winter and told them to just go through everything, service anything that needs service and fix anything that was broken. That trip to the dealer just cost me $7,200 but I've got a pretty good reliable machine now, and it's still a pretty cheap backhoe.

Heavy machinery repairs are not cheap. If you only need it for this one job, I would definitely rent. They will deliver you a nearly new machine, keep it serviced, and get it out of there when you are done. This also gives you the flexibility to use more than one type of machine such as an excavator, then a dozer.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:18 PM   #18
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Thought I'd give people an update on this.

So I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do about the foundation, but I'm leaning toward just hiring a guy to dig it for me.

That said, the lure of owning a piece of equipment has (much to my wife's dismay) drawn me in. I paid $5500 for a 1984 Ford/New Holland CL65 skid steer. It ran when I got it, but it needed a lot of TLC. First step was fixing the shaft seal on the hydrostatic pumps which leaked about a gallon of fluid every hour of running (and continued to leak when shut off).

It would seem that basically zero parts on this thing are still available via New Holland/Ford so I've had to try and figure out the original manufacturer on everything, or else make the part in my shop. Hydrostatic pumps were made by Cessna (acquired by Eaton), and so I was able to source seals through them. Rod ends for the controls I was able to just order given the specs I found. Nylon bearing blocks for all the controls I found the original manufacturer and ordered directly from them. O-rings and hoses are basically commodity.

The engine....ugh. So when I got it the radiator was mounted above the engine compartment which completely blocked the view in reverse. this was unacceptable to me so I decided to move it back inside the engine compartment. I wondered why it was moved up there in the first place, but figured it out when I realized that the original 4 cyl diesel engine had been replaced by a 4 cyl diesel from a 1983 Ford Ranger. The crappy radiator was too wide to fit down below so they jury rigged something up. I was able to source a nice aluminum cross flow radiator that fit, so I fabbed up some brackets and got it back where it should be. I had to mill a new water neck out of aluminum as I couldn't find anyone in with a replacement. Oh, and the wiring. It had all been ripped out. The only wiring existing was a toggle switch to turn the motor "on" and a pushbutton to fire the starter. Zero gauges, zero idiot lights, no glow-plug circuit, even the alternator wasn't wired in. I rewired the entire thing and added a bunch of cool gauges I thought might be valuable. I even wired in some headlights and tail lights in case I wanted to run it when it got a little dark.

The inside was something else. 35 years of accumulating dirt mixed with hydraulic fluid had resulted in the entire area under the seat being one giant lump of essentially tar. It took sooooo many weekends with the pressure washer, a chisel, a hammer, etc getting that area acceptable. God that stuff sucked.

I could go on and on about all the stuff I've had to fix and the hoops to get parts. I'm finally nearing completion. Still a few leaks, but they're very slow and only happen when running so I'm considering just leaving them be. (thoughts anyone?) The only part I have not yet figured out how to "fix" is the little brake pads that are tied to the emergency/parking brake. Three of the 4 pads are fine, but one of them lost the pad part. Can't really make a brake pad in the shop and I've been to every motorcycle / ATV / Hot-Rod shop in town trying to find a replacement without any luck.

Long and the short of it, I'm an idiot. That said, this project has been crazy fun. I'm keeping pretty detailed track of what I've sunk into this beast. Thus far I've sunk about $1300 additional into the thing and an insane number of hours. The last thing I still have to do is weld on a new bottom plate to the 80" bucket as the old one has rusted/worn thorough in a couple of spots.
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Old 04-10-2019, 04:21 PM   #19
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rszimm View Post
.

The last thing I still have to do is weld on a new bottom plate to the 80" bucket as the old one has rusted/worn thorough in a couple of spots.
have it punched or drill before going on so you can just bolt next one on.

that cutting/welding all the time sucks.
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Old 04-10-2019, 06:19 PM   #20
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Re: Recommendation For Digging Foundation


That's a great idea.

Any recommendation for gauge of steel? I've got some 1/4" laying around, but that seems like overkill and will weigh my bucket down.

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