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Question DetailsAsked on 4/5/2017

how much would it cost to hire someone to dig a hole 4 X 4 X 4 to give access to a pipe?

We need to repair a pipe in the backyard. Easy access to the location if something has to be brought in

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1 Answer


Depends on digging conditions of course - though if over an existing line hopefully the trench backfill will not be too hard digging.

In all but highest cost areas - "legally" you are talking $500-1000 range (depending on local labor and equipment costs) by an Excavation contractor using a utility tractor or Bobcat or such with backhoe, because at 4' depth under OSHA regs unless you step or slope the excavation way back (thereby increasing excavation size 50-100%) you legally have to shore the excavation with timbers or use a trench box (protective support device that is loweredinto the trench and then hydraulically presses against the sides to support the walls) - which for this size job greatly increases the cost over the $200-250 one would normally expecct for hand excavation by a laborer. (Last time I hand dug a hole for this purpose took me about 3 hours of steady work in cobbly compact gravel - could be twice as long or longer in stiff clay or such.)

If you know exactly where the leak is, 4x4x4 excavation might just be an acceptable minimal size for the repair - that assumes one edge of the excavation is close to the repair point to leave room for the plumber to kneel and work on the other larger side of the excavation. However, usually this type job ends up being about 3-4 feet wide and 6-8 feet long depending on type of pipe (you want to excavate to the next joint in short segmental sewer pipe for instance) or to get past any corroded point, so a backhoe then starts looking better and better because a 50-100% or so increase in excavation quantity does not cost that much more once it is there, whereas a 50-100% increase in size when digging manually is close to the same increase in labor cost.

Also in favor of backhoe - if you do not know the EXACT leak or break location the hole size can grow rapidly too as you hunt around for the pipe or chase along its length to find the damaged point. Also, easier to excavate with backhoe in saturated or sewage-laden conditions than by hand.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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