Selecting the right property for your future building is a crucial part of the construction process. An incorrectly chosen or poorly vetted site can result in additional unforeseen costs for you or your organization.
In this blog, we’ll be going over the process of site selection and soil investigation for a newly-constructed building. We’ll also share a couple of stories about what can happen when a thorough and proper site investigation is not completed. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have your own story to share!
The goal of the site selection process is to evaluate potential sites for the new building and find the best fit for the needs of your project.
For example, if you are building a residential complex for retirees, you will need to make proximity to amenities — such as shopping, medical services, public transit, and so on — a major priority. You may want to provide easy access to nature as well, like the Village by the Arboretum in Guelph.
If you are working on a commercial project, then it may be easiest to focus your search on local industrial parks. You will need to ensure that your potential site meets the zoning requirements for your project. You should also consider access to basic utilities, such as water, sewage, and power.
Ask yourself whether your project has any exceptional or unusual requirements, as these will almost certainly be a major factor in the site selection process.
Once you’ve identified a few potential sites, you should conduct a thorough soil investigation at each site before you start planning your future build. Soil conditions can affect the requirements for a building foundation and site works — or even outright disqualify a site!
The purpose of a soil investigation is to gather information about the geological conditions of your site, including the type of soil and rock formations, the groundwater level, or the presence of contaminants. There are a number of methods that can be used in the soil investigation process.
What Can Go Wrong
Many things can go wrong if you don’t conduct a proper soil investigation process. Poor soil quality can drive up the costs of your build. You may need to excavate the entire site, remove large quantities of material and import new to complete the project. High groundwater can flood job sites. Or you can run into other obstacles that completely stall the project!
One great example is a developer that purchased a lot located next to a decommissioned landfill site. Although an old soils investigation report had been provided, they did not realize the implications of the landfill waste which had seeped underground and beneath the site they purchased. In order to properly construct a foundation for the proposed new building, caissons or piles would have had to be placed to a depth of 30 feet, through the waste, to bare on bedrock below. Ultimately the costs related to these foundation requirements made it unrealistic to construct the proposed new building.
When considering construction in close proximity to existing structures, particularly old factories or lots which were once home to gas stations, it is essential to have a site and soils investigation completed. Our team has uncovered buried gas tanks and other contaminants that needed to be removed and disposed of, all of which came at a cost to the owner.
You should have all the information before deciding on a site. That’s why we recommend a thorough soil investigation for each of our projects, to fully understand the risks and the cost of construction.
If you’re planning a new build, do yourself a favour and request a proper soil investigation. Make sure that you purchase the right property.