Can I Dig a Hole in My Backyard without Permission? Rules and Regulations for Excavations on your Private Property | Depths of Underground Utility Services

Is it Safe and Permissible to Dig a Hole in your Backyard without Consulting Local Authorities?Rules and Regulations for Excavations on your Private Property | Depths of Underground Utility Services


A 15 metre deep well built in the 1920s was discovered in the backyard of a house in Edmonton – Source: EdmontonJournal

So you have a little project that you want to do on your private property, and this project involves trench excavations, but before you proceed with your project, can you legally dig a hole in your backyard without permission from local authorities and utility operators?

Before we look at rules and regulations regarding excavations and digging trenches in your backyard, we should look at reasons why you would want to dig a hole in your backyard.

You have been talking to a neighbour or friend who has an amazing garden, a beautiful landscaping feature like a water fountain, koi pond, stone/metal sculpture, pathway lamp posts, curb mailbox, tropical plant, palm trees or an outdoor structure like a pergola, gazebo, screen wall, boundary wall, a rustic outdoor shower cubicle, barbeque area or fireplace. Maybe it’s a septic tank, stormwater gulley, manhole or inspection chamber. All these outdoor home improvements, additions and works will require you to dig a hole, trench or excavation of some sort. The width and depth of the excavation will depend on what you are building or what you want to install. If you have building drawings of the structure, the draughtsman, engineer, architectural technician or landscape designer should show you the dimensions of the structure, i.e. the plan view, elevations and cross section details of the foundations that need to be dug. This information is required by local building authorities, so make sure you have the drawings and other information about your site at hand. Local building authorities need to know the depth and width of your excavations, as well as the site conditions before they give you a permit or permission to dig holes and pits on your property.

Permit To Dig in Your Backyard

Regardless of where you live in the United States, digging a hole in your home yard comes with risks that may cost you legally or financially. You do not just stand a chance to violate local ordinances and get fined, but digging holes arbitrarily on your private property may pose a hazard to your health and physical well being. Your neighbours as well as the whole community may be affected by your actions. Hazards of digging holes in your backyard without consulting local authorities and utility operators include damaging underground water, sewer and gas pipes. Damaged water and sewer pipes can cause flooding in the surrounding environment. Hitting buried gas pipes can cause fire outbreaks and air poisoning. Broken electricity cables and wires left exposed pose a risk of electrocution and fire outbreaks.

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