The Column - Menard Cares
Dear Menard,

We know you from some of the large projects you work on – warehouses, highway embankments, storage tanks – but do you also install ground improvement on projects with a smaller footprint?

Sure we do! But let's take a moment to consider a few things.

At Menard we’re always looking for a challenge - whether that's a project being built over multiple construction seasons, one that requires particularly deep elements, or has especially high loads (and sometimes all of these), we look for creative solutions to each site’s special considerations.

Sites with small footprints tend to have their own unique demands, too, often related to access and schedule.

Flexibility and planning go a long way:

  • The project schedule may have allotted 1-2 weeks for ground improvement work. For a small project that might be totally reasonable, but since the ground improvement is often on the critical path and is one of the first trades to be on site, waiting until 2 weeks prior to groundbreaking to award is not advisable.

    Every project, big or small, requires an approved design from the ground improvement contractor before the work can begin. That approval process does not necessarily scale linearly with the size of the project.

    Your preferred ground improvement contractor may no longer be available if the decision-making process drags out because of other commitments. It’s hard to do, but the more notice you can provide the ground improvement contractor the more likely they are to mobilize on the scheduled date.
  • Urbanized areas, unsurprisingly, tend toward sites with smaller footprints. This means that ground improvement (and everyone else, really) might be contending with things like overhead and underground utilities, noise and work hour restrictions, traffic, nearby structures, and more. If you think ground improvement is a good fit for your small project site, thinking about how these things might affect a ground improvement contractor is certainly worthwhile!
  • Mobilization costs are probably the biggest consideration when it comes to a small site. Whether a rig is installing 50 elements or 500, it costs the same to ship it to the site and get it set up. If you have a ground improvement contractor local to your area, perhaps this isn’t as critical, but often this isn’t the case. In order to reduce costs, it helps if there is some flexibility in the schedule that allows a contractor to stage equipment beyond the installation period or install the ground improvement before or after a nearby job is complete.

Ground improvement solutions have been installed for gas stations,convenience stores, apartment buildings and other small structures. With the proper planning, small sites are still viable.

Is any site still too small?

Not necessarily, but the practical limit is in the 3,000 square foot footprint range. Single-family homes have typically not been in the purview of ground improvement, nor have small outbuildings, signposts, and other small structures where only a handful of piers may be needed.  

more questions answered