What is a Site Investigation?

A site investigation is a critical component of any large urban development project, and therefore should commence at the very beginning of the planning process. It entails engaging a qualified geotechnical surveyor to examine the site’s soil composition and the structural strength of all the underlying rock and any other features which may affect building or construction safety. 

In some cases, an investigator will also be required to search out potential site threats and issues that need to be resolved before any building work can take place. Site investigations are usually conducted by trained geotechnical surveyors, and many are independent consultants that will be called in by developers.

Investigation Process

A site investigation must begin several weeks before construction begins, particularly if basement car parks and underground work need to be carried out during the project. It is designed to reveal the location of underground debris and rock as well as give the overall condition of the earth and soil beneath. Most often, the surveyors will use ground-penetrating radar technology to assess the ground conditions. 

The goal of a site investigation is to understand whether the building will be structurally sound when built. It is aimed at providing valuable information about the site’s potential stability and safety for people, equipment, and structures throughout the building process as well.


Site investigation and soil testing are carried out by using a variety of tools; including an in-ground geotechnical probe, sensors for soil or groundwater, computer Aided Design (CAD) software, and computer-aided design (CAD) drawings. If a site investigation determines that foundation problems exist, it is important to address those issues before construction can begin. 

For example, if soil or groundwater table levels are too low, the engineers will likely suggest that the foundation be raised.

Soil Investigation

There are several other reasons why it may be necessary to perform a site investigation. For example, when it comes to building homes in urban areas, it is common for engineers to want to know the precise location of underground utilities. When soil and groundwater conditions are poor, the cost of building a home in an urban area will likely be much higher than building one in suburban areas because it will require additional digging for utility lines. Urban site investigations are also required for planning any expansion of an existing neighborhood, such as the addition of a road or sidewalks.

An in-ground site investigation involves researching the physical properties of land to determine if they meet local building codes. One physical property that an investigator will examine is the quality of underlying soil. Sometimes an engineer will also check for possible structural deficiencies that could lead to poor foundation conditions. The investigator will also look at the makeup of any concrete or masonry structures that might support the structure, such as trusses and columns.

The primary goal of a site investigation is to find out what conditions are typical for a particular property. Site investigations can be performed before a project begins and during a project. In some cases, an investigator will simply walk around the property to determine if any ground conditions may pose a problem. 

Required Investigations

If you own a home, you should be aware that your lender or real estate agent will most likely require an investigation of your property before agreeing to a financing agreement for any part of your home. The purpose of a site investigation is to help ensure that the foundation and other major elements of your home are in good condition.

A site investigation can reveal defects or problems associated with any part of your foundation or with the ground itself. It can also reveal any potential hazards that must be evaluated and analyzed before construction is begun. A site investigation is critical for any developer considering any part of a property for development.…