The Importance of Geotechnical Engineering in Construction Projects

Updated: Jul 16

When we think of a construction project, we often picture the build midway through (i.e., the construction site), or the completed project at the end. Not many people think of the planning, investigations or groundwork that goes on onsite before a brick is even laid.

Without the desk study assessment, ground investigation and potential remedial work that go on beforehand, many projects couldn’t go ahead, and if they do without the benefit of these ground assessments, it could become problematic at a later stage.

The work Geotechnical Engineers do is vital to informing the design process of potential ground constraints, pragmatic solutions, and ensuring the right measures are put in place to ensure the safety and success of a building project, the safety of the public and helping to minimise the impact on the environment.

So, what is Geotechnical Engineering?

Geotechnical engineering or geotechnics is a branch of civil engineering concerned with the engineering behaviour of earth materials. Geotechnical engineering incorporates a range of specialist fields such as geology, soil and rock mechanics, geophysics and hydrogeology, to determine solutions for ground engineering problems.

As a branch of civil engineering, geotechnical engineering is vital when it comes to the planning of infrastructure, such as roads and tunnels, as well as buildings and other construction such as mining and drilling operations, onshore and offshore.

Geotechnical engineers provide vital support within the design and construction industry, whether it's ground and environment testing and analysis, to the assessment of risk to humans and the environment.

Ground Investigation Work

Geotechnical engineers perform a ground investigation (which is often a prerequisite of Local Authorities). This analyses a host of soil mechanics that are vitally important to the safety of the workers and environment and are key to the success of the project.

Geotechnical investigations allow engineers to evaluate the stability and strength of the ground, including slopes and soil deposits, assess risks such as soil aggressivity to buried concrete, and help to determine what type of foundations and earthworks would be required within a project.

Surveys will also point out the potential for risks such as landslides, seismic activity, floods and what should be put in place to mitigate the risks associated and suggestions for any remedial work that may need to take place in order to make the ground safe, secure and economically viable for development.



Earthworks Design and Supervision

The key target of earthworks design is to maintain cut and fill balance using a sustainable robust solution to minimise or to prevent costly importation of soil by maximising the reuse of site-won soils.

Our in-house highly experienced geotechnical engineers, have a broad range of experience in the production of earthworks specification, assessment of the potential reuse of site won soils, suitability and acceptability of the existing deposits as well as part time/full-time on site supervision to monitor the performance of the progress to make sure that the engineered fill meets its serviceability targets throughout its design life.

By working closely with the earthworks contractor, a robust earthworks design and competent supervision often lead to substantial savings within the construction industry.

Why do I Need a Geotechnical Engineer?

Within any construction project there are many environmental considerations, restraints andnecessary measures that must be dealt with for the project to be both physically and legally possible. If you are unaware of all of these considerations when starting a project, then not only may this delay your project, it could also prove to be extremely costly both financially and reputationally. This is why you should consult with a geotechnical engineer in the first instance.


Don’t Base your Site Assessment Decision on the Lowest Quote

As the saying goes, you usually get what you pay for. Buying on price could be detrimental to the final outcome of your project. A site investigation may be poor for a number of reasons:

· A poorly designed site survey

· Under-sampling or the inability to do all the correct sampling and respond to the needs of the site

· Poor acquisition or analysis from site resulting in inaccurate or unreliable results

· Slow turnaround time on time-critical projects.

What you may save at the front end of the project may well come back to cost you more before the close of the project. The entire point of a solid well put together site survey is that it gives you accurate analysis, aims to save you money in the long term and offers you solutions to mitigate risk or tackle any concerns that arise in a swift manner. Effectively it is there to ensure you can manage your project in a timely manner and within a reasonable budget.

Finding The Right Geotechnical Engineering Company

· Make sure the company takes their time to understand your project clearly and their reporting can be tailored to support your project accurately.

· Can they work within the confines of your project deadline?

· Can they offer an end to end service? Are they able to find the issues and offer the solutions also?

· Look at their reputation. What work have they done previously and who for? Do they have case studies or testimonials you are able to find and be satisfied with?

Jomas Associates are proud to be award-winning Environmental and Engineering Specialists. If you have any questions about any upcoming or current projects, please feel free to get in contact with us.

Jomas are ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified part-time and hold Acclaim and Constructionline Gold accreditations. We undertake site investigations, land contamination risk assessments and geotechnical engineering assessments across the UK.

All our reports are reviewed and approved by a CGeol/CEng Chartered team member or a Specialist in Land Contamination (SiLC). We can also provide the role of a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) under the National Quality Mark Scheme (NQMS).

We never compromise on quality and we focus on value engineering and are adequately resourced to ensure that your deadlines are prioritised.

You can call us on 0800 955 2187, or email quotes@jomasassociates.com