Fill 1
Default Header Image

Cut And Fill Calculations: A Quick Overview

In a perfect world, every inch within a plot of land would be the perfect elevation for a construction project. Of course, this is never the case, which is why cut and fill calculations are an essential step in the construction process. Here’s a general overview of cut and fill, and a few considerations engineers must make during this process.

Excavation & Embankment

While we typically just call this process “cut and fill,” it would be more correct to call these excavation and embankment. In fact, you could even replace the phrase, “cut and fill calculations,” with the phrase “excavation and embankment calculations.”

Excavation is the “cut” portion of the phrase, where we determine how much soil and rock needs to be removed from a plot of land. Embankment, on the other hand, is how much “fill” will need to be added to create the final elevation that will be needed for a project.

When it comes to embankment, an engineer won’t simply be concerned with how much fill is needed, but also its compaction and the type of fill material to use as well as ensuring that proper drainage has been put into place and many other crucial factors. Hundreds of hours of work must be accomplished before the actual construction of a building, bridge, road or other structure begins.

Types Of Calculations

There are several types of complex software that can provide engineers with cut and fill calculations. The software programs provide cut and fill calculations using several different methods. This might include the grid method, the triangular prisms method, the cross-section method, the contour area method and others.

While software programs now make these calculations for us, learning how to accomplish these calculations by hand is an essential tool for any engineer or for contractors such as ourselves, tasked with providing dirt estimates for civil engineers and contractors. As we like to say, software is only as good as the person using it. Unless you have a thorough understanding of the mathematical calculations provided by the software and a true understand of the entire cut and fill process, the final results might not be as high quality as you want.

Software Options

Depending on the task at hand, there are several companies that produce quality software for cut and fill calculations, earthwork takeoff and so forth. At EarthCalc, the main technologies we use include AGTEK and Trimble. These programs can be used for earthworks as well as to build machine control files. Again, this is complex software, so it is imperative that the operator have the skills and experience necessary to take your plans, whether they be CAD files, PDF plans or hardcopy plans and provide you with accurate results.

The team at EarthCalc has been providing services such as dirt estimates and materials estimates for more than 30 years, and we also can provide you with machine control files. Project turnaround tends to run about three days, depending on the scope of the project. Rush service may be available upon request. If you want us to get started with a project, you can call us or upload the project via our website.