Performing a Proper Land Development Feasibility Analysis

Massive subsidence in Florida

A critical aspect of a site’s economic viability is the geotechnical related site risks and any ground mitigation measures to the risk(s) that needs to be taken. Therefore, in the initial stages of significant land development project, a proper initial evaluation of these geohazard factors are vital to understanding the feasibility and necessary investment into the site for the proposed construction to take place. The geotechnical risk and any needed mitigation of those risks fundamentally relates to two factors:

  1. Nature and frequency of ground movement events over the course of the life of the project, and
  2. The tolerance of the proposed structure to the expected ground movements.

Therefore, the assessment of the economic feasibility of the development of a site depends on the geotechnical investigator’s foresight into the critical ground conditions in the early stages of the project. And in turn, the selection of a qualified geotechnical investigator is critical to avoid significant misuse and misdirection of land development funds. At a minimum, this geotechnical investigator should be able to identify early on all the potential sources of ground movement that could have a significant

 impact on site development. Secondly, this investigator should be able to prioritize their investigation and sufficiently quantify the level of importance of those risk factors have on site development. For example, investing into extensive foundation design, prior to evaluating the potential of land subsidence would be putting “the cart before the horse”. The potential subsidence damage may be found too great even when mitigation measures are taken to develop the site. Or alternatively, the subsidence damage potential is within a viable range and now the foundation design phase should proceed.

 

A slope failure during construction of a subdivision that occurred due to unstable slope

A sag subsidence in a farm area that prevents harvesting

 

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