Skip to Content

Is It Legal To Dig A Tunnel In Your Backyard?

Is It Legal To Dig A Tunnel In Your Backyard?

You have an idea for a small project that you want to carry out on your private property, and this plan calls for the digging of tunnels. However, before you move forward with your plan, you want to find out whether or not it is legal to dig a hole in your backyard without first obtaining permission from local authorities and utility companies.

Although, you can dig several feet beneath your yard. In theory, the depth of the hole that you dig is only limited by your ability to adequately support it and ensure that there will be no damage to the foundations of either your home or the homes of your neighbors.

However, can it still be counted as legal? Stay glued to this article as we will provide well-detailed answers to several questions you have about digging a hole in your backyard.

Is It Against The Law To Dig Secret Tunnels In The Backyard?

Regardless of where you reside, digging a hole in your backyard carries risks that could cost you legally or monetarily. The legislation in every state mandates that anyone planning to dig must first call the utility-location hotline to have all underground services identified and marked before digging can begin.

When you dig holes at random on your property, you not only run the risk of violating municipal rules and receiving a fine for doing so, but you also expose yourself to the possibility of endangering your health and your physical well-being.

The community as a whole and your immediate neighbors could be impacted by the choices you make. There is a risk of causing damage to underground water, sewer, and gas pipes if you dig holes in your backyard without informing the relevant local authorities and utility operators.

Water and sewer damage can create floods. Hitting subterranean gas pipes might result in the outbreak of fires and the contamination of the air. Also, any exposed or broken power cables or wires constitute an electrocution or fire hazard.

Why Would You Need a Tunnel?

Talking to someone you know who has a beautiful garden, you’ve been inspired by their landscaping features like a fountain, stone/metal sculpture, an outdoor structure like a pergola, gazebo, tropical plants, and palm trees. You’ve also been thinking about how you may incorporate some of these features into your garden.

All these outside house developments, expansions, and works involve digging. The excavation’s width and depth will be determined by the structure you intend to construct or the equipment you wish to use. It could be a utility hole, a septic tank, a gulley, or even an inspection chamber.

The dimensions of the foundations, such as the plan view, elevations, and cross-sections, should be shown to you by an engineer, architectural technician, or landscape designer if you have construction designs for the structure.

Local building authorities will demand this information, so ensure that you have the schematics and other available site information. Digging holes and pits on your land requires obtaining a permit from your local building authority, who will want to see the dimensions of your excavations and the site’s current state.

Can You Build A Tunnel From The House To The Garage?

Yes, you can build a tunnel from the house to the garage. To construct a passageway leading from your home to your garage, you must first build a tube-like aperture that is robust.

Designing a safe exit route takes a lot of time and effort. An escape tunnel from your home to the garage requires more than just excavating. Bracing the walls and ceiling, for instance, is an absolute must if you do not want to end up being buried alive. Tunnel engineering is a complex field; therefore, unless you are an expert in the field, you should seek the assistance of a professional consultant.

It will be more challenging for you to reach your bug-out vehicle in an emergency such as an invasion of your home. Fortunately, a tunnel leading to the garage can be used as an escape route. It’s a great idea to flee to safety without drawing attention to yourself.

How Deep Can You Legally Dig A Tunnel?

Digging holes in your backyard residential lot without consulting the local building authority is not permitted, as previously stated; thus, call the utility hotline before beginning any excavation project.

On the other hand, for practical purposes, it usually is safe to dig holes no deeper than 12 inches on your land, and it is way safer and non-risky to drill holes no deeper than 100mm deep (4 inches).

As long as you are excavating within your residential lot and not outside the plot, for example, on-street pavements or other public areas, it will be outstanding to do so. Permits are required in most circumstances if you want to dig holes in your street curb and resurface it.

A permit is necessary for trenches that are more than 5 feet (1,520mm) deep. Unless a Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) permit is obtained, workers cannot enter or begin working in such trenches.

Can You Dig An Escape Tunnel By Yourself?

A tunnel can be dug on your property if you have the right equipment. Some people dig tunnels to make commercial lines or roadways more direct; others construct escape tunnels, yet others dig for the engineering challenge alone.

Remember the dangers of digging and never do it alone. Small tunnel constructions can be completed with hand tools, with shoring as the only constant. Stabilizing your tunnel by bracing the ceiling is a good idea. A cut-and-cover tunnel is an excellent place to start if you’re new to tunnel building.

In addition, digging does not necessitate the use of heavy machines. It takes a lot of time and works to excavate the tunnel by hand. On the other hand, using machines speeds up the process but costs more money.

It’s not easy to build a tunnel. Many hours of hard labor and careful planning are needed to make it function. If you want to build a long-lasting tunnel, hire an engineer.

How Will You Dig Your Tunnel?

  • Shovel out the tunnel with plastic buckets. Make the tunnel big enough to fit through without touching the sides.
  • Using a digging bar, dislodge any hardened dirt and rocks. Don’t dig the tunnel’s top with the digging bar.
  • Dig a vertical shaft because there needs to be sufficient earth above a tunnel so that it can be walked on from above without collapsing.
  • If the measurements of the tunnel given in Step one are followed, you will need to dig a vertical shaft at least six feet deep. Seven to eight feet is safer.
  • Use a circular saw to cut the lumber.
  • Board the tunnel’s top. Each tunnel side needs a board to hold the overhead board.
  • Dig outside the vertical shaft and inside the tunnels with a lump hammer, chisel, or trowel.
  • Make the tunneling process safer by installing shoring as you go along.
  • Use 16d galvanized nails to secure the uprights to the overhead board. For e Every six feet, add a wooden brace to the tunnel.
  • Before your tunnel becomes too deep, put in an air pipe.

What Can You Do With The Dirt From The Tunnel?

After digging a tunnel, the excess dirt looks like a burden, but you can develop new natural areas or build up old sites with effort and hard work.

Raised Beds

Fill raised beds with dirt. Raised beds are perfect for growing a food garden because you can replenish them with raw, weed-free dirt and because they make planting and maintenance easy. Adding height and variety to your landscape is easy with raised beds for ornamentals.

Potting Soil

It’s possible to use the surplus dirt to make potting soil as long as it’s not heavy clay or rocky soil. Lighter than garden soil, potting dirt won’t clump in containers. You can develop a suitable organic planting medium by mixing equal volumes of organic matter compost, peat, perlite, and garden soil.

Low Spots

Low places in the lawn or garden can be filled with more dirt. Remove plants and grass before applying dirt. After leveling, you can replant. Rake the earth till its level. After replanting or relaying sod, water until the soil is as wet as the planting holes.


Keep in mind that you cannot begin digging until all utility operators have acknowledged your request and designated the locations of all underneath services. Do not remove any paint markings or flags used to locate subsurface utilities. If you lose the marks during construction, you will need to file a new application for re-marking.