If you're a homeowner who has been having water problems with your basement or foundation, and weeping tile turned out not to be a solution that worked, you may be planning to dig around the foundation to try and add a layer of water proofing. This is a task better left to the professionals, and not just because waterproofing the exterior of an entire foundation can be a time-consuming job. Excavation brings with it problems that you may find extremely difficult to handle along with the actual physical task of excavating. Instead of renting an excavator and trying to power through this yourself, you really do need to hire a company that knows what it's up against as it tries to repair your home.
Foundation Excavation and Mineral Rights
Work that requires digging past the first few inches of soil may violate separate mineral rights, but the situation becomes confusing when the digging is not related to mineral rights at all. If you own the surface rights to your land and not the mineral rights, digging deep down to fix a foundation could technically infringe on the rights of the mineral-rights holder, opening you up to a lawsuit if you don't take the right steps beforehand. The good news is that a case like this might not hold up in court since the digging was related to repairing a surface structure and not related to mining in any way.
This sounds like a far-fetched scenario at first. However, there is precedent both for suing and for the case being dismissed. For example, Lexis Legal News reports that in 2015, the Osage Nation sued the United States over the construction of a wind farm, claiming the digging for installation of the farm violated the Osage Nation's mineral rights. The case was thrown out because the judge ruled the digging, necessary for installing the wind farm, had nothing to do with mining.
How that affects you is in the preparation for the excavation. Laws vary from state to state, and the excavating company will already be familiar with what your state is like. They will know whether or not they have to get permits or if they can simply start digging once they've located utility lines.
Basement Water Exposure
One odd problem you'll face when trying to excavate around the basement or foundation is that you will be exposing more of the foundation to potential moisture. Right now, most of your foundation is surrounded by tightly packed soil. Even if you are having some waterproofing problems now, they are likely coming from a couple of spots and not all around the house. If you move that soil away, though, the foundation or basement will be fully exposed. If it rains, or if you go through a spell of high humidity, even more moisture could get in. A professional excavation company can protect the site until the soil is filled back in.
If you live on very rocky soil, especially in the Northeast where the soil is sometimes jokingly referred to as a rock farm, because of the layers of rocks that continually work their way up to the surface as if they were growing crops instead of stones, excavation could be a real bear for any DIY projects. The rocks can damage equipment and extend work times past the time you thought the work would take. The professional excavation company, though, will be able to better plan the work to account for the rocky soil, as well as deal with any surprises like large underground boulders.
Have some excavation companies come out and evaluate your land and the area around the basement. Many have associated foundation and basement repair divisions, while others have a list of waterproofing companies they can subcontract with, saving you a lot of trouble.