What to Expect When You Are Expecting a New Project



December 31, 2014


A Guide to Site Visits during Construction Phase of a New Project

Periodic site visits are necessary and should be conducted by the structural engineers responsible for designing and reviewing shop drawings during the construction phase of a project. Some of the most important structural elements that require site visits during construction are: foundations, shear walls, transfer slabs, floor framing and the roof. Through observation and comparison to the building plans and drawings, structural engineers gain better understanding of the project in construction and may identify any necessary modifications that need to be made to accommodate field conditions. More importantly, the engineers should be looking at constructability and identify how details could be improved for the next project.

We have compiled a list to better prepare the engineers on what to do before, during, and after those site visits.

In preparation for a site visit, a structural engineer should:

  1. Meet with your Project Manager (PM) and get an overview of the current status of the project and identify critical areas to be observed
  2. Review the project proposal for the scope of work
  3. Review the construction schedule (foundation and superstructure)
  4. Review project specifications, contract documents, structural drawings and shop drawings (Make sure to bring the latest structural drawings and relevant shop drawings to the site for reference)
  5. Review potential safety hazards and obtain the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as hard hat, flashlight, safety glasses, and a vest
  6. Bring all necessary equipment: tape measure, pen or pencil, field book, camera, spray paint, boots, and rain gear if needed
  7. Dress professionally and bring your business card

Upon arrival the structural engineer is expected to:

  1. Contact the Construction Manager (CM) and NOT the contractor to confirm arrival on site
  2. If it is the first time on site, meet with the site safety manager and go through a safety orientation. Keep a record on site with the safety manager
  3. Observe the condition of the structure of the building
    • To identify the types of structural defects (ex: exposed rebars, honeycombs, cracks)
    • To identify any signs of structural distress and deformation (ex: deflections)
    • To identify any signs of material deterioration
  4. Observe the loading on the structure of the building (ex: overload with material such as pallets of dry wall, windows, CMU etc)
    • To identify any deviation from intended use, misuse and abuse which can result in overloading
  5. Take photos of the overall construction progress and any areas that need to be documented or reviewed further

After completion of the site visit, the structural engineer should:

  1. Notify the CM of any deficiencies that require immediate attention
  2. Review observations and construction progress with the PM
  3. Issue a field observation report noting observed conditions and recommended remedial action if required