This is how the excavation progressed:
From the front, the excavation helped fill in and smooth out a hollow near the front corner of the house. The original stub drive just went into the area of spoil visible past the steps up to the front walk.
To the right is a view from the back yard looking toward the front. This is the hill we have to drive over to get out. This cut would have been a lot deeper, and the climb less steep, if it weren't for the buried power cables running from left to right across the driveway.
Once the cut was made, and the grass was scraped away, the gravel was spread. In the picture at the left, the footer hadn't yet been dug. The spoil from the cut along the house has been removed. When the footer is dug, there will be another large pile of dirt near the back fence.