CivilStructural.com.my 25 Aug 2013
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Tips on site inspection (Intermediate)

It is a regular task for civil and structural engineer to carry out site inspection. As a civil and structural engineer, he always has to prepare for site inspection. The site inspection is carry out on un arrangement basic. Contractor will give a call and request engineer or clerk of works for inspection. In some case, it will be in written form on requesting on inspection. Civil and structural engineer is always fighting for time. He has to do design works, office management work such as prepare professional fees claim, tender documents, letter of appointments , site works such as inspection and meeting, liaise with authorities, client and others professional parties such as architect, M&E engineer, quantities surveyor and surveyor. Most of the works are in term of time fighting. Civil and structural engineer always has long working hours.

Since the regular works such as meeting has been arranged in weekly or fortnightly basis and targeted design work to meet dateline, civil and structural engineer has to always looking for free time to carry out site inspection. The following tips may help civil and structural engineer on work of site inspection.

Always arrange the time of site inspection either in early morning or in late afternoon. Because it is the best time to carry out site inspection. Weather on these times will not be hot; engineer can has more comfortable way to work on. If site inspection is carry out at noontime, it is very hot and engineer will be running with sweat. Imagine how engineer can work after inspection with sweaty body in office. The engineer will find that uncomfortable body on office works. It will cut down the office performance. Sweaty body may make engineer sleepy especially in air conditional office. Sweaty body can easily fall in sick. Therefore, it is not recommend working in office after hot weather site inspection. Somehow, it is good to recommend having site inspection in the late afternoon; because just after the inspection, engineer can go home. If engineer is planning to have an intensive brain breaking office works such as design works. Then engineer has to organize site inspection to avoid any low performance of design works. The inspection has to call off when raining day. It is dangerous to carry out site inspection during raining day. Ground is muddy and floor is slipping. Sometime rain is come together with lighting. Furthermore, people who get wet may fall in sick easily.

During site inspection, engineer has to always concern about the safety of site. As we know that safety features at site are always insufficient. Engineer has to always wearing safety apparatuses such as safety helmet and safety shoe. Before he enters into a site, he has to visualize condition of site. As for example; when contractor requesting to inspection roof beams without proper access such as secure ladder, engineer has to make his own decision on rejecting such inspection. If any argument happened and unable to solve at site, engineer is advise to leave the site immediately.

Engineer always has to carry a measure tape. It is useful when come to any dispute on dimension. Engineer has to visually view to make initial judgment. He has to use his eye to measure engineering elements. For instance checking on steel bar sizes, after he has inspection of certain times of steel bar sizes, engineer is able to visually measure by his eye. It is no need to use measure equipment to check steel bar sizes. The more of inspection, the more feel on elements dimensions. These kind of feel will not able to tell how to get them. Only after engineer expose to these checking, he is able to gain the feel.

As we know that, qualities will be the main concern at site inspection. How to engineer can ensure contractor has done his job properly? Certain contractor takes advantage of not doing his duty on preparing construction work. He wants engineer to do the inspection. Engineer is perform his duty to ensure contractor has prepare the construction work according to engineering drawings. Engineer is only a checker and not a staff of contractor. Therefore, engineer always has to clear in mind that he only come for checking. If he finds that first few elements of engineering works has been badly done. It looks like contractor never check first. Then it is better that engineer not to waste his time on further checking. Engineer has to tell contractor to recheck the whole engineering works before engineer can carry out another inspection. Engineer can leave the site and revisit after contractor has rectified and recheck the works. No doubt, contractor may not prefer what engineer acted, but bear in mind that engineer is not “PAID” by contractor to do such works.

Number of inspections also depends on contractor reputation. If a particular contractor has many bad records on construction works, then engineer has to have more check on the contractor’s works. He has to drop by more often at site for more site inspection. Engineer has to carry spot check on contractor’s works instead of common requested site inspection. The contractor who has good record, engineer may have less inspection but random spot check still a mandatory task. How to know a contractor has performed his duty properly? If engineer do not know contractor performance, he can gain it by site inspection carry out by him. Is the works done accordingly to engineering drawings? Are most of the tasks accomplished? Any cut corner of material? A lot of accuse from contractor on engineering works? Is the site is neat and clean? Throughout few site inspections, engineer may acquire some information on contractor’s works. Then engineer can judge the contractor reputation. Beware of contractor promises. Whenever contractor promised on certain things, engineer has to ensure that the contractor has been fulfilled such promises. During engineer’s inspection, some irresponsible contractors just to ‘entertain’ engineer. Engineer has to adware such ‘entertain’.

In the event that engineer has lacked of time on inspection, engineer can do some sort of short cut on site inspection. Somehow, it is not to recommend doing so. When engineer is really in hurry, engineer can pick up critical engineering elements to inspect. As for example, critical structural beams such as transfer beam and heavy loaded beam. The priority task is to check on such beams. Minor structural elements such as lintel beam and small beam can be avoided.
Do not pamper contractor who want to carry out immediate concreting work just after engineer’s inspection. Some contractor may take advantage that the concreting work can be carried out concurrently by engineer’s inspection. Engineer has to remember that not such engineering works can be ready 100% perfectly. There must be some mistake or over look matter in engineering works. It is advisable that engineer has to highlight such concreting work can be carried out a day after the inspection. If concreting is carry out and mistake happened at site, and then there will be ended up with big argument or quarrelling.

Sometime, engineer shall not to lenience or too friendly with contractor. Engineer shall not go out lunch or dinner with contractor. Such entertainment shall be avoided. Else in the event of engineer has to practice his professionalism, engineer will be in difficult position to make decision due to “good” relationship with contractor. Contractor may comment that engineer is too strict on inspection. Therefore, engineer always has to have a relation gap between contractor and engineer.
Further than what discussed above, it is recommends that to expose fresh engineer to site inspection that has been badly done by contractor. The fresh engineer must accompany by any senior engineer that the senior engineer can give proper guidance to junior engineer. When a problem happened, junior engineer can learn from the problem. Senior engineer shall guide junior engineer on what should be checked and what should not be checked.

If engineer has to carry out few site inspections. It is better that engineer to arrange the route of sites. Engineer can visit the sites at same zone at once. It will save engineer time on revisit similar zone. Always plan in advance before visit a site. Engineer always has to carry a set of project drawings for a particular job site. It is to avoid no drawings are available during site inspection. If this is happened, engineer has to revisit on another time. It is waste of time. Do not entertain contractor when the site is not ready for inspection. Else contractor will take advantage of requesting engineer to carry out more site inspections on a particular task such as partly completed first floor structure.

All the above recommendations are for cases of randomly check and do not applicable to full time on site personal such as resident engineer; because resident engineer is “PAID” for such work at site. The engineer has to stand by all the time at site. Others than these, there is some more information on article of “Tips for General guideline for site inspection on RC structure elements before concreting...”
Written by scchee
Disclaimer: the above article is based on writer personal opinion on civil and structural field. It will not represent any ultimate solution of any mention subjects. Writer will not responsible for any causes arise.

Reading level: Intermediate.
(Updated 3/9/07)
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