13 Mar 2013
March 13, 2013

The State of the (False) Economy

Times still appear to be uncertain with the terms “austerity” and “triple-dip recession” cropping up at regular intervals in news reports. It is natural that, within the construction industry, companies are seeking out the best value and looking to reduce costs to improve the profitability of new developments. Care does need to be taken, however, as looking for savings in the wrong areas can easily lead to increased costs. We thought it might be useful to provide some details of ground-related services where cutting corners can be false economies.

Always do a desk study
It can be tempting, if a development involves the construction of a relatively simple structure, to skip over the process of acquiring desk study information and think that a couple of trial pits or boreholes will be adequate to characterise a site. However, it is not possible to design a cost-effective ground investigation that addresses potential ground-related problems without obtaining desk study information. More information can be found on desk studies in the “Services” section of our website. But remember, a site hasn’t always been the way it looks now. There could be potential for any number of environmental or geotechnical constraints to be lurking beneath the surface and a desk study offers a cost-effective way to identify where those constraints may exist, highlighting major cost items and providing the basis of a strategy for a ground investigation and subsequent development.

Ground investigations should be designed by a specialist and cheap does not always mean value.
Whether you pay for a “cheap” ground investigation or an “expensive” ground investigation, the cost of such work is typically a fraction of the value of a development. We have noticed a worrying trend that people responsible for commissioning ground investigations are electing to choose the cheapest quoted price without taking into account the work that will be actually undertaken. There seems to be little point saving a few hundred pounds on an investigation when the data obtained may not adequately characterise the site such that the design solutions leads to an increase in development costs of four or five figures. At Crossfield Consulting, we have considerable knowledge of ground conditions across most of the UK and we know how to identify relevant data from desk study information. This allows us to design ground investigations that are logical and permit a site and its constraints to be understood. As a result, we have a proven track record of providing economical solutions and value engineering in construction design. Remember, it is not the cost of the investigation but the cost of the solution that is important.