Construction (synonymous with building) is an enterprise that varies from very simple to highly complex – the latter covering many activities that may involve a wide range of professions. Although there are many types of constructions only those projects which use or deal with natural earth materials (stone, rock, soil) are of particular interest. Many of these projects are related to building construction and to a lesser extent civil construction (e.g. tunnels, dams, bridges, roads).
The construction of any multi-facetted building project involves a substantial sequence of events that starts with an idea or a vision, often from an architect. Design parameters require the input of engineers to establish feasibility and the vision progresses to costing where many changes and compromises are usually made. A sound and acceptable design, meticulous planning, a seamless integration into the environment, a sound financial structure, together with numerous internal and extraneous legal considerations are prerequisites to a successful construction and subsequent use.
A highly qualified and experienced stone specialist is a vital component at all stages in the evolution of a building or other construction project. All too often this important role is bypassed to save some money until problems arise. In the US it is mandatory to engage a stone professional on projects using a large amount of natural stone.
Hensel Geosciences provides specialist advice to the building construction industry from the planning stage through to completion. The list below describes the type of advice at different stages of construction.
Prior to construction
- Provide advice on stone intended/selected for particular application(s)
- Organize and/or conduct specific tests to characterize stone; interpret all results
- Suggest possible alternatives/substitutes of higher quality or better performance
- Undertake investigations on the suitability/durability of selected or proposed stone
- Confirm availability and organize procurement of stone if required
- Evaluate quarries, quarry operations and stone processing facilities to ensure timely supply
- Inspect and document slabbed/processed stone to meet acceptance criteria prior to or after shipment
- Eliminate possibility of substitution prior to shipment; inspect slabs and supervise loading if required
- Prepare meaningful specifications and tender documents for proposed stone
- Review tenders and tenderers to ensure conformity
- Institute quality control procedures
- Perform random quality control inspections on stone procured from overseas or domestically
- Train personnel to conduct in-house quality control procedures
- Undertake random testing as necessary
- Provide maintenance manual for all natural stone used – specific to individual construction
- Investigate problems related to stone quality, installation procedures and unforeseen factors; suggest rectification of any problems
- Petrographic analyses
- X-ray diffraction analyses
- Slip tests
- Stain tests
- Expert witness in litigation involving geoscientific matters
- Establish new or recommence old quarry operations for specific stone application (e.g. restoration)
- Recommend most appropriate quarrying techniques and machinery required, to match intended output