3 Geotechnical Tests that New Construction Contractors Must Know

Initial groundwork on a project's site is critical to new construction contractors and their clients. Before any works can begin on a project, contractors need to have a pretty good idea of the capabilities of the ground where a structure will sit on. There is no need to spend millions of dollars on a property only to have the ground failing structurally or otherwise shortly after a client has taken ownership. It is for this reason that the services of a geotechnical engineer are indispensable. A geotechnical expert's analyses and resulting reports determine the viability of a site for a particular construction project. This article highlights some of the tests that a geotechnical engineer will carry out on a site.

Soil Composition -- Soil comprises of different components including chemicals. Since some of these chemicals interact negatively with other materials, knowing precisely the soil composition is vital. For instance, if construction is going to involve piling, the soil composition tests will reveal if there are chemicals that will react with the piling material used - whether wood or steel. If not detected from the onset, delays due to contamination can cost a business time and money. Additionally, soil tests will also help determine if a site is safe for the construction team or whether it poses health risks. Reports from soil tests can be used to devise ways of mitigating the reactions of chemicals in the soil with building materials.

Fault Distribution -- The foundation of a structure sits on solid bedrock. However, since the ground can shift in direction, it is essential that contractors know whether there exist faults. By drilling and taking x-ray pictures of the underground, geotechnical engineers can create a detailed map of faults on the bedrock. Armed with this information, a contractor can make sound decisions with regards to the structural strength of foundations. For instance, having an idea of where faults are located on the bedrock can help contractors to avoid weak points as they build the foundation thereby eliminating structural compromise.

Groundwater Monitoring -- It is common for construction sites to feature underground water. Some of the water might be deep or superficially. The proximity of underground water to a foundation determines the structural integrity of the structure. Geotechnical engineer must, therefore, monitor groundwater to make sure that it maintains a safe depth. For instance, since underground water is fed from underground channels, rainwater might cause underground water to rise within a short period. If engineers do not continuously monitor the levels of underground water, construction workers will be guessing their way down.

For more information, contact your local geotechnical services.