When most people think of construction projects, they imagine half-constructed buildings ready for windows, doors, and other finishing touches. Few consider how much work goes into preparing the site for the new building, but without proper soil preparation, no construction project manager can move forward confidently. What they’re missing is the important role that geotechnical engineers and the materials they use play in the construction process.
What Is Geotechnical Engineering?
Geotechnical engineering is an essential field that involves the evaluation of soil quality and the preparation of a site to support a certain load. The experts who provide these services must be able to identify relevant risks, including not just soil weakness but also erosion, settlement, landslides, and other potential issues that could come up during construction or after the project has been completed. They then choose appropriate geotechnical engineering materials to serve as preventative measures against potential issues in the future.
Commonly Used Geotechnical Materials
The types of geotechnical materials vary by site and soil characteristics. Sometimes, all that’s needed is backfill to replace unstable soils. In others, deep soil drainage systems, helical or resistance piles, micro piles, or other deep foundation products may be needed. When that’s the case, project managers need to work with industry experts that are familiar with geotechnical engineering and design.
Concrete is the most commonly used geotechnical material. However, the system in place makes a large difference, so project managers need to find geotechnical engineers that install advanced earth retention and deep foundation systems. Depending on the project, these systems could include elements such as:
- Soil nails
- Soil screws
- And others
Not all geotechnical engineering firms offer a full range of material installation services. Some focus exclusively on consulting, while others are happy to act as subcontractors. The latter category of professionals does more than just evaluate the soil and make recommendations. They have the equipment and expertise required to install high-quality geotechnical engineering solutions.
How Geotechnical Materials Support Project Integrity
Without the right geotechnical materials in place, projects at all scales can be held back significantly by unnecessary problems. In the context of commercial construction, the cost of failing to use the correct geotechnical materials and ensure a strong foundation can be devastating.
In most cases, contractors discover their errors during later stages of construction, when they are more challenging to manage. Even if nothing comes up during the project’s completion, the choice to forgo high-quality geotechnical materials can pose safety hazards, as unstable soils can impact a project’s structural integrity.
The only way for construction project managers to be confident that they are using the highest-quality materials is to consult a skilled geotechnical engineer. For smaller projects, a consultation may be all that’s required. For larger ones, hiring a geotechnical engineering contractor who can handle all facets of site preparation, soil remediation, and foundation installation is the only way to ensure positive results.
Find the Right Engineers for the Job
Ready to move forward with a commercial construction project? One of the first steps should be to find a dedicated geotechnical engineering firm that can help with stabilizing the soil and ensuring proper drainage. Look for a company with years of experience working on projects in many industries, and ask what types of systems they install before deciding who to trust.