A great deal of work needs be done before any kind of building may be constructed in an area. The greatest part of the pre-construction labor concerns soil analysis, intended to determine whether the proposed building can be erected there based on the condition of the soil. The examination is done by a geotechnical engineer who has the final say on what kind of earthworks may be appropriate for the site. Geotechnical engineering is the first consideration in planning a land structure, since it is the basis -figuratively– on which the structure will be constructed.
The general steps
Most engineering processes rely on intricate computations and precise measurements to be effective in their purposes, and that includes geotechnical engineering. It tries to determine the manner by which the start of a project may be tackled, and the continuance of the project will live or die on its findings and recommendations. The process may be segmented into three stages:
In the review stage the soil conditions are almost perfunctorily examined to determine how the next steps should proceed. The basic problems are stressed, and recommendations are given, basically if the project can proceed or not. Not many insurmountable problems are discovered at this point.
The investigation phase scrutinizes much more closely any problems and all aspects of soil analysis. The characteristics of the soil, the rocks and the air and water in-between their particles are examined closely. Hazards and possible hazards geotechnical engineer are projected into the analyses, including but not limited to propensity to landslides, soil ‘flow’ or movement, weight-bearing capacity, the probable relationships between and among the soil, the foundation and the structure, the behavior of any embankment, excavations or tunnels that might be made, and the response of the soil to tests are scrutinized.
All the resulting conclusions made from the investigation phase will determine exactly how the construction will proceed, how the foundations and underground structures will be fashioned and what design the structure need to finally take. Landslides, earthquakes, soil liquefaction and sinkholes if any need be considered in designing the foundations, even before the structure can rise aboveground. That is why some buildings have rollers that allow it to move laterally during earthquakes.
In the foundation designing stage, as the name indicates, the kind of foundation for the structure is designed based on the findings of the previous phase. Some foundations must compensate for certain weaknesses of the soil, as any foundation must be able to bear the weight of the structure above it. Likewise, soil settlement may occur in the short or long-term, and this must also be taken into account in the design.
Many people forget that aboveground structures must have below-ground foundations, and criticize the building owner when the structure falls down and cause harm or injury. But if any damage happens the culprit must be the foundation designer or else the engineer that analyzed the site foundation soil characteristics. If he erred in it or miscalculated, then damage to persons and property may result.