An architect designs buildings, a constructor builds them. The work of a surveyor is not so obvious. But not a single construction project can do without a surveyor. It is him who must study in details the construction site long before the construction itself starts: carry out geodetic, geological, hydrometeorological, environmental and geotechnical studies. More than that, he must investigate underground waters, the ground under the foundation of the future building, fulfil the analysis of soil contamination.
All these activities provide for careful location of construction objects and prevent from the hazardous processes’ development.
The peculiarities of the profession of a surveyor and the problems existing in the field of survey conducting were discussed at the recent event of Surveyor’s Day sponsored by NOPRIZ – National Association of Designers and Surveyors.
Qualification cannot be checked without qualification standard
…There was a lot of fuss in the building of the Moscow Institute of Engineers in Geodesy, Aerophotography and Cartography on October 11. Specialists from different Russian regions —Krasnodar, Stavropol, Sochi, Rostov-on Don, Yekaterinburg, Saint-Petersburg — gathered there to discuss the challenges faced presently by the professional community of surveying engineers.
The first thing the participants of the meeting paid attention to was the absence of the completely developed package of professional standards.
Presently, at the highest level, the mandatory assessment of the professional skills of an employee is being seriously discussed. And surveyors even do not have regulatory documents for such an assessment to be conducted. The sooner such documents appear, the sooner specialists’ qualification assessment will be started. The NOPRIZ Committee for geotechnical investigation
Have started work on the development of qualification standards development. And of course, it should be accelerated.
One more problem is the lack of demand for geotechnical investigation. There is a lot of construction all around, but the demand deficit still exists. The reason for that is the fact that some developers try to minimize expenses on geology and surveillance at the construction site, often sacrificing quality.
- Due to the fact that there are more offers on the market than demand, our colleagues’ lower prices, sometimes beyond reasonable, Chairman of the NOPRIZ Committee for geotechnical investigation, Vladimir Paskanniy says. – But we know that, some works just cannot cost so little. The work of a surveyor is very complicated, it is often fulfilled in extreme weather conditions. And we try to make those who take decision be aware of that. But still, we are afraid we are not “heard properly”.
Vladimir Paskanniy is sure that it is necessary to stimulate the demand for geological investigation products. If there is a contractor, there will be work, there will be money and quality.
Additionally, a developer must have an understanding of the whole volume to be fulfilled and the required quality. And this will influence the internal demand.
- Geological engineering surveillance is not the thing to save money with, Vladimir Paskanniy continues. – For many years, my colleagues have been speaking about the fact that poor surveillance results in tragic consequences. And only recently, developers started to be aware that geological engineering investigation is the element of assets saving as providing buildings and structures with excessive stability is a very costly thing.While common investigation takes a part of a percent of the project cost, providing excessive stability may take a tenth part of the whole object cost.
Temperature drop, unpredictable geology - everything has its own specifics
The Construction.RU journalist took the occasion and talked with regional representatives asking them about local peculiarities of the surveyor’s work. And learnt a lot of interesting things.
It is not a secret that every region has its own specific features in the field of surveillance work which are to be taken into account. For example, in the Arctic zone, on Kolsky peninsula, specialists in geotechnical engineering have to work in the unstable climatic conditions, temperature drops and high humidity due to the Barentsevo Sea impact and specific landscape (mountainous).
- …The geological condition there is absolutely unpredictable because of glacier which had broken everything on its way., Evgeniy Volkovich, Director General of Arcticcapstroy, says. When taking a soil sample in the central part of the country, they will be the same in different wells at a distance of five hundred meters. With us it may be quite different at a distance of ten meters. That is why in, for example, Murmansk much more careful investigations should be carried out to receive the objective result.
Local specialists complain that “alien” companies come to the region without understanding the local specificity and start dumping. Having received orders, they do not cope with them and leave. And customers stay have to face serious problems with their fabricated engineering surveys which had cost little.
- It is a very poor practice, Evgeniy Volkovich is sure. – It is up to us, who live in the Arctic zone and know it very well, to correct all those doubtful investigations and calculations.
Siberians help designing new cities
There are also some problems in the work of surveyors of Western Siberia. They are connected with fast development of oil and gas complex.
- Our main challenge is weak ground plus perpetually frozen soil, Gennady Diakov, Director General of the West-Siberian Association of surveyors, SRO. – Formerly, the grounds in our region were called ever-frozen, presently they are called perpetually frozen due to gradual melting.
It was surveyors who had fulfilled all preparatory work before such new cities as Noyabrsk, Novy Urengoy, Khanty-Mansiysk, Surgut appeared. Presently, we receive a lot of orders for transportation and infrastructure objects, bridges. We have worked a lot with the Power of Siberia main. Not only oil and gas fields are developed with the help of surveyors, but residential and administrative buildings are constructed, and the specific feature of the region is that we have a lot of flowing grounds.
- …When we graduated from the university one of my mates wrote a thesis about places unsuitable for construction. I criticized him severely then, and now I see that I was right: presently construction is carried out in the most complicated climatic and geological conditions, even on the water. One may build a house anywhere – the thing is how to solve a complicated problem and how much it will cost.
Mud volcanoes had to be fought against in the Crimea
While designing the Crimean bridge, the experienced surveyor, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy, Professor Evgeniy Rogozhin had to solve the task how to pass over mud volcanoes located in the Bay of Kerch. Specialists carefully studied the lots with mud volcanoes, along the highway detailed geophysical studies and seismic exploration works were carried out.
According to Evgeniy Rogozhin, a special vessel was reserved for investigation which moving along a definite route “shot through” water. In the result all dangerous places with fracture zones and macalubas were mapped, luckily no seismic deviations were detected along the route.
By the way, the laboratory dealing with seismotectonics was authorized to develop some regulatory documents. The Ministry of Construction Codification Centre regularly updates technical documents, in particular the documents on detailed seismic regionalization for the objects of greater responsibility. Additionally, the laboratory developed a new macroseismic scale which had not been reviewed since 1964.
Professor Rogozhin is sure that construction in complicated conditions is quite possible if surveying work has been carried out properly.
«False» field operations may impact the project cost
It is clear that unique surveying projects to which public attention is attracted are carried out with good financing and, correspondingly, higher quality. The routine work is characterized with different trends. Specialists note the increasing amount of fabricated reports: the thing is that field operations are the most expensive part of surveying, and companies are often tempted to save money and either invent a false report or use archive data. And the results may be very serious, the least being significant rise in price of construction work. Sometimes even state expert evaluation cannot differentiate whether the report is fabricated as they do not control the stage of field operations and the papers seem all correct.
Evgeniy Volkovich gives an example of the results a false surveying report, one of those fulfilled in the Murmansk region by a stranger company. It was the project of a racing piste construction.
- Surveyors drilled a hole and checked the ground only where the approach was comfortable. But they did not take into account that the geological structure along the racing piste may be different – there may be lignum fossile, and pit reclamation must be performed. And quite near it there may be a rock which is to be blown up. But the project did not include such details. In the result the project became more expensive by 30 m rubles (!). And the object budget did not include this money!
The professional community proposes some measures to fight against falsification.
- The first thing to do, from my point of view, is to introduce the position of Chief surveyor who will sign the final documents, Deputy Minister of Construction and Utilities, Dmitry Volkov suggests. – Signing the documents, he will be responsible before the state. This will be an experienced specialist having high responsibility and reputation.
Some specialists insist on introducing state control at the stage of field operations. There is a suggestion to modify the mode of submitting documents to expertise in the way that the absence of field operations would be impossible.
Anyway, the problem must be solved.
Comparing costs according to “petrol index”
Alas, the prices for surveying work leaves much to be desired. They are very low, as specialists say.
- …And lately the prices have dropped, Evgeniy Volkovich states. And being Head of the company, I must pay salary to the employees, maintain equipment, take into account logistics expenses, etc. And I am used to doing my work properly. Luckily, our customers know our company and choose us to fulfil surveying work.
Evgeniy told us that he had carried out a small investigation. He compared the indices of surveyors and constructors with average petrol prices. And it turned out that over the past 20 years the cost of surveying work decreased almost twice when compared with 2000. The price of petrol has grown two-fold, constructors’ prices have also grown the same, and the surveyors’ index is 1.
- 60% of employees in surveying companies are engineers, they must self-educate, attend conferences, improve their knowledge – and all these things require money.
Unique technologies demand unique specialists
It is worth mentioning that in spite of economic difficulties the industry of surveying is still developing. Engineering surveying and digital cartography with lazer scanning are used presently. Unmanned aerial vehicles and Earth remote probing with the use of space satellites are widely applied.
New computer technologies allow to create 3D models of landscape, now it goes about the 3D.
Due to the development of satellites constellation and technologies of the aerial photography using unmanned aerial vehicles growing cheaper, the highly precise spatial information will be available on-line in the nearest future.
But the problems of surveyors are particularly acute on the grass level: it is crucially important to solve them for the country to have unique specialists – the surveyors of the 21st century!