Construction Monitoring: A Valuable Tool in Urban Building Projects
How it can help protect you and your neighbor from the potential risk of damage to surrounding buildings and structures
28 February 2023
In densely populated urban settings, any type of construction project can have some sort of impact on neighboring buildings and infrastructure. That's where construction monitoring comes in. It relates to services performed for the protection and safeguard of adjacent properties and structures during construction activities at the project site.
Depending on the location of your project (city, state) and type of adjacent building/structure, one or more code requirement may apply to your project. Each of the applicable codes or governing agencies has one or more of the following construction monitoring requirements:
- Construction Monitoring Plan
- Pre-Construction Documentation Survey of Existing Conditions of the adjoining properties
- Construction Monitoring (which includes)
- Vibration Monitoring
- Crack Monitoring
- Optical Monitoring (Settlement Monitoring)
- Post Construction Evaluation/Inspection
Construction Activity that Affects Neighboring Structures
There are several types of construction activities that can have an effect on the adjacent properties. These activities include, but are not limited to:
- Demolition – removal of pre-existing structures or components
- Excavation – grading, spoil loading, hauling, and compaction
- Underpinning – strengthening the foundation of an existing adjacent structure
- Pile driving or drilling – structural support of various types of structures namely buildings, bridges, and various infrastructure
- Sheet pile driving – embankment erosion protection or barrier soil stability
- Rock blasting or chipping – removal of bedrock
Potential Risk of Damage During Construction
These activities may put areas in neighboring buildings at risk for damage, including:
- Interior finishes – cracks in drywall and plaster
- Exterior façade materials – cracks in stucco, brick, exterior insulation finishing systems (EIFS)
- Foundation walls – damage can impact structural integrity
Pre-Construction Documentation Survey
In order to mitigate potential damage, prior to construction commencing, a pre-construction documentation survey is completed. This includes:
- Non-invasive visual observation of the existing conditions
- Structural or cosmetic defects that are visually observed are documented by digital photography
- Defects may include, but are not limited to, existing cracks, signs of settlement, and water damage
- Main areas that are documented consist of portions of the exterior façade, foundation walls, basement slab and ceiling, and roof that are adjacent to the project site
- Additional areas that may also be included in the survey are common areas, residential apartments, commercial/retail/office spaces that are adjacent to the project site
- Report of findings provided at the completion of the survey with all digital photographs
Construction Monitoring Plan
A monitoring plan is developed for the protection of adjacent structures based on the proposed scope of construction and/or the findings of the pre-construction documentation survey. The plan is created according to the requirements of the applicable code(s) or project specifications and includes details the construction monitoring to be implemented or that has been implemented. The monitoring plan indicates type of equipment, location of monitoring devices, frequency of readings, and criteria for review level (threshold value) and action Level (limiting value) for all construction monitoring. It also describes protocols that are to be taken should exceedances be observed at or above the review or action criteria.
Construction Monitoring Services
There are three standard construction monitoring services that are implemented for the protection and safeguard of adjacent properties during various stages of construction activity: vibration monitoring, crack monitoring, and optical monitoring.
Post Construction Condition Inspection
A post-construction condition inspection is performed during or after completion of construction phases such as demolition or below grade construction. The inspection consists of comparing the current conditions to the findings documented during the pre-construction documentation survey. Any new damage observed or changes to pre-existing damage previously documented is digitally photographed and reported. Finally, a comparison report is provided at the completion of the inspection.
Construction monitoring is a key service that should not be overlooked. By incorporating construction monitoring into your building project, you can greatly reduce the potential of adjacent property damage and insurance claims. To learn more about, watch our on-demand webinar: Construction Monitoring; Before, During, and After.