Borrow pit

A borrow pit is a term used in construction for a hole, pit or excavation that has been dug for the purposes of removing gravel, clay and sand used in a construction project such as when building an overpass or embankment.

Deeper definition

Almost all construction projects involve earthwork designed to ensure there’s a suitable base for whatever is being built. A key aspect is to ensure that ground conditions are sound for stable construction.

While this process involves grading and excavation, frequently it’s necessary to bring materials from another site that have to provide fill material with the right ground conditions.

These materials are mined from what are known as borrow pits. Abandoned borrow pits often are seen adjacent to highways where material was removed to build embankments and overpasses.

Many states and counties have regulations regarding borrow pits, and owners require permits to operate. Usually, there are strict requirements to be followed, including the rehabilitation of the site. Despite this, borrow pits are not popular with local residents who feel that they scar the countryside and promote erosion.

A borrow pit may be enclosed or open. Closed borrow pits are holes dug into the ground, and the coarse material produced often is used for gravel. These borrow pits frequently fill with water. Open borrow pits are shallow excavations and are generally used to mine sand and clay. These are more susceptible to erosion.

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Borrow pit example

Joseph and Abigail plan to landscape their hillside property. Because they have children, they want a level lawn where the children can play. Joseph contacts a local landscaping company that brings in gravel, soil and clay materials from borrow pits located in the county.

The contractor uses this material to build a stable base that won’t erode from frequent heavy rain. Once it has been compacted, the contractor covers the area with topsoil from another borrow pit, and then plants grass.

Are you building a new home and need a loan to level your site using materials from a borrow pit? Read this Bankrate article on the different types of construction loans that are available.

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