Civil Engineering Design

Key Needs To Start Preliminary Engineering?

Before a civil engineer can start the preliminary engineering and project design, some key information is needed.  Some of this information is researched by the civil engineer while other consultants provide key documents.

To start the grading plan design, a map of the existing topography, or “topo”, for the property is necessary for developing the new project design that consists of streets, slopes, pads, and drainage.  A typical method of producing this existing topo is for an airplane to fly above the property and take photos from above.  These photos are converted into contour lines that provides the engineer with existing grades and become the basis for an efficient grading design.

A second key bit of information is the soils report.  Geotechnical firms will provide research and information as to what type of soils lay unseen beneath the earth – critical information for the grading design and cost estimates.  The geotechnical firms will need to send equipment to a site and obtain soil samples by boring holes or digging trenches.  These soil samples are taken back to a lab, analyzed, and summarized in a soils report.  Civil engineers are skilled in reading these soils reports and adapting their grading design based on the findings.

A third key bit of information is the location and capacity of existing utilities, such as water, sewer, storm drains, and dry utilities.  The location of existing utility lines will determine the efficiency and cost of connecting new project lines into the existing infrastructure.  As for capacities, it is imperative to know whether the local sanitation district has capacity at existing sewer plants, or whether existing sewer and storm drain lines have the capacity to handle the flow from the new development.  With water, it needs to be known whether the local water district can provide the amount of water and whether existing water mains are sufficient to deliver the water to the new project.  The civil engineer typically researches this utility information by reviewing record plans and contacting the utility agencies.

Once this key information is obtained, maybe with some other information as well, the project design can commence.

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to share with us below.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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