How Much Does It Cost to Dig Out a Basement [Total Calculation]

Digging out a basement can cost on average $20 to $50 per square foot.

Are you considering digging out a basement but unsure about the costs involved? The expense of this project can vary depending on several factors like the size of the basement, the existing foundation, and any potential obstacles. We will discuss the average cost of digging out a basement, along with the key factors that influence the total expenses.

Understanding these details will help you determine whether this project fits within your budget and how much to allocate for the excavation process.

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Factors Affecting The Cost Of Basement Digging

When it comes to digging out a basement, several factors come into play that can impact the overall cost of the project. These considerations must be taken into account to ensure an accurate estimate and a successful excavation.

Size Of The Basement

The size of the basement is one of the primary determinants of cost when it comes to excavation. Naturally, a larger basement will require more time, effort, and resources to dig out compared to a smaller basement.

Contractors often charge based on the square footage of the area that needs to be excavated. Additionally, a larger basement may require more extensive earthmoving equipment, leading to increased costs.

Read also: Should I Buy a House with Bowing Basement Walls?

Type Of Soil

The type of soil on the building site plays a significant role in determining the cost of basement digging. Different soil types have varying levels of difficulty when it comes to excavation.

For example, sandy or loamy soils are generally easier to excavate compared to rocky or clay-rich soils. Excavating through rocky or compacted soil may require specialized equipment and techniques, ultimately increasing the overall cost of the project.

Depth Of The Excavation

The depth of the excavation required for the basement is another crucial factor affecting the cost. Digging deeper requires more time, labor, and resources, which can drive up the overall expenses.

Deeper excavations also pose additional challenges, such as shoring and stability concerns, which may require additional engineering and safety measures. It’s important to accurately calculate the required depth to avoid unnecessary costs or unexpected complications.

Access To The Site

The accessibility of the building site can significantly impact the cost of basement digging. If the site is relatively easy to reach and has ample space for equipment and materials, the excavation process will likely be more straightforward and efficient.

On the other hand, limited access, narrow alleys, or congested areas may require additional planning, specialized equipment, or even manual labor, leading to increased costs. It is crucial to consider the accessibility of the site during the estimation process.

Permits And Regulations

Before beginning any basement digging project, it is essential to adhere to local permits and regulations. Obtaining the necessary permits ensures compliance with building codes and safety standards, avoiding potential legal issues and penalties.

The cost of permits can vary depending on the location and the requirements set by local authorities. Additionally, certain regulations may dictate specific excavation methods or materials, potentially impacting the overall cost of the project.

Cost Breakdown Of Basement Digging

The cost breakdown of basement digging can vary depending on several factors including the size of the basement, local labor rates, excavation method, site conditions, and any additional features or requirements. However, here’s a general breakdown of the costs involved:

  • Excavation Costs: Excavation costs for digging out a basement can vary based on the size and complexity of the project. Excavation expenses typically range from $20 to $40 per cubic yard of soil removed. This cost includes labor, equipment, and other associated expenses.
  • Hauling and Disposal Costs: Hauling and disposal costs refer to the expense of transporting the excavated soil to a designated location for disposal. On average, homeowners can expect to pay around $200 to $500 for hauling and disposal services.
  • Site Preparation Costs: Prior to the actual digging, site preparation is essential. This includes clearing the area, ensuring proper drainage, and marking utility lines. Site preparation costs can amount to approximately $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the specific requirements of the project.
  • Foundation Costs: The foundation costs for a basement digout generally depend on the type of foundation being constructed. For a standard poured concrete foundation, homeowners can anticipate spending between $4,000 to $12,000. However, this figure may vary based on the region and the complexity of the design.
  • Additional Costs: Beyond the fundamental expenses outlined above, there are additional costs to consider. This might include obtaining permits, hiring an engineer, and addressing any unexpected complications. Additional costs could add an extra $2,000 to $5,000 to the overall project budget. It is advisable to have a contingency fund in place.

Average Cost Ranges For Basement Digging

Here, we will discuss the average cost ranges for different sizes of basements, from small to luxury options, to help you get a better idea of what to expect.

Small Basement

A small basement typically refers to a space that adds around 500 to 1,000 square feet of additional living area to your home. The average cost for digging out a small basement can range from $20,000 to $50,000.

However, keep in mind that this is just the cost of excavation and does not include additional expenses such as waterproofing, insulation, and finishing touches. Depending on your specific needs and preferences, the total cost can go up significantly.

Medium Basement

A medium basement generally adds around 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of usable space. The average cost for excavating a medium-sized basement can range from $50,000 to $100,000.

It is important to note that this cost estimate is for the excavation only and does not include other necessary expenses such as permits, structural enhancements, or interior finishing. These additional costs can add up, so it’s important to take them into account when considering your budget.

Large Basement

A large basement typically adds 1,500 to 2,000 square feet of extra living area. The average cost for excavating a large basement can range from $100,000 to $200,000.

However, this estimate is just for the excavation process and does not include other expenses such as plumbing, electrical work, HVAC installation, and interior finishing. It is crucial to consider these additional costs to get a more accurate idea of the total budget required for your basement project.

Luxury Basement

A luxury basement refers to a high-end, custom-designed space that adds over 2,000 square feet to your home. The cost of excavating a luxury basement can start from $200,000 and go up significantly depending on the scope of the project and the level of customization required.

Since luxury basements often involve intricate designs, high-quality materials, and specialized features, the overall cost can vary greatly.

It’s essential to work closely with a professional contractor to discuss your specific requirements and create a detailed budget plan that fits your vision and budget.

Read Also: How to repair dampness at home

Tips For Saving Money On Basement Digging

When it comes to basement digging, costs can quickly add up. However, there are several strategies for saving money on the process. By following these tips, you can potentially reduce the overall expense of digging out a basement.

  • Obtain Multiple Quotes: Before committing to a contractor, shop around to obtain multiple quotes. This will provide you with a better understanding of the average cost and help you choose the most economical option that suits your budget.
  • Timing And Off-peak Seasons: Selecting the right time for basement digging can greatly impact the cost. Off-peak seasons may offer lower prices due to decreased demand. Consider scheduling the dig during these periods to save money.
  • Consider DIY Options: If you have the necessary skills and equipment, undertaking certain aspects of the digging process yourself can significantly reduce labor costs. However, be sure to assess the complexity of the work before committing to a DIY approach.
  • Reuse Excavated Soil: Instead of disposing of the excavated soil, consider reusing it for landscaping or other construction projects. Re-purposing the soil can eliminate the expense associated with its removal and disposal.
  • Negotiate The Contract: When negotiating the contract with the contractor, keep in mind that there may be room for flexible pricing. Discuss the possibility of reducing costs or adjusting the scope of work to fit within your budget.


The cost of digging out a basement will depend on various factors such as the size of the basement, the depth of excavation, and the specific requirements of the project. It’s essential to obtain multiple quotes and thoroughly research the process to ensure you get the best value for your investment.

Planning a basement excavation project will enable you to make well-informed decisions by providing you with an understanding of the prospective costs and elements involved.