Ground vs Bricks: Why Ground Investigation is So Important

Posted on May 3, 2018
Archive : May 2018
Category : Site Investigation

When you are planning a new project, you want to know that every brick you will use will be fit for purpose. You can go to the manufacturer’s website and find out its size to the millimetre, its tolerance, its durability, its strength... All the information you need will be there.

That is because it has been made to exact specifications and carefully quality-controlled. The same is true of any other component of the structure you are planning to build: from the glass in the windows to the tiles on the roof. But what about the ground you will put your structure on?

Can it take the weight? How much will it settle? What is the likelihood of flooding or subsidence? You can’t find that out from any manufacturer. You can only learn this from a ground investigation.

The ground you build upon is the legacy of geological and climatic processes since the earth was formed, as well as more recent man-made activity. You cannot change it: you have to accept it for what it is and work with it.

The bricks you use are designed and manufactured to tight tolerances and specifications. But what good is knowing all this about your building materials if you don’t understand the ground you’re building on? The ground is not aware of the millions of pounds invested in your project, but it is fundamental to its success and sustainability.

In his John Mitchell Award lecture at the ICE, our chairman Len Threadgold made this clear. “The ground never lies and is not aware of the qualifications of the engineers involved or the sophistication of any analysis used. It will behave as nature dictates. The skill of experienced engineers is in understanding this and using their knowledge”.

“What has to be understood is that every single construction project is a prototype – a one off. Even when you’re building similar structures, the ground beneath them will differ. The interaction between the structure and the ground will be unique”.

That is why good quality ground investigation is so important. To find out how we can assist your next project, please contact our teams across the UK.