Building a Deck - Excavating the Site
Key to the whole process of building the deck was getting the site correct. This meant getting the site excavated, drainage put in place, and making sure pesky weeds did not end up growing up through the surface of the deck. To accomplish all of this I hired a skid steer loader to break the back of most of the excavation, and planned on using sweat and a shovel to prepare the rest of the site.
The Skid Steer Loader
I hired a 900mm (3 ft) wide skid steer load for a day and used this to excavate around 80% of gthe site. It all went quite smoothly. I had to be careful near the edges of existing paving, fencing, and the garden shed. Luckily, other than breaking a few pavers as I drove over them I didn't damage anything. The main area of the deck was excavated around 300mm, with me checking level from time to time with a laser level and a stick mounted on a flat board that I would plumb up to the ground using a post level taped to the stick. The only real problems encountered during this process was the hardness of the ground (I should have soaked the ground a few days prior) and the lack off access to the smaller part of the deck and the sandpit/garden bed area. This meant I had to excavate a lot more of the deck by hand than I really wanted to.
Rather than tackle the areas remaining immediately (the ground was just too hard) I decided to soak the area and leave it a week or two before getting going on it. When I'd done this the ground was actually quite easy to dig by hand. Using my painted lines and the same level checking used above I excavated the remaining area in around 8 hrs over a period of two days. In total the loader moved around 10 cubic meters of soil in 4 hours, and by hand I moved around the same amount.
How Much Did I Get Done?
I completed all the excavation over a period of just over two weeks. This is the time frame that I'd planned. The only major problem was that the waste bin I'd hired was only half the size it needed to be. This means there's a big pile of waste soil built up in our front yard. Very ugly to look at and not worth moving until the work in the back yard it done as there will be quite a bit more wasted to add to the pile.