Foundation drilling is unique in that it is one of the most important aspects of civil and commercial construction, though it can often be taken for granted.
Because foundation drilling is just one part of these projects, your role as a drilling contractor means you’re working as part of a larger team, unlike geothermal or water well drilling projects.
Your work is confined to the engineering team’s design parameters and needs to be completed on time and within budget for the project to continue.
To make this profitable, you need to have a solid understanding, scope, and price estimate before accepting or beginning the project because foundation drilling projects require a close partnership between you and the general contractor team and engineers.
Therefore, it’s essential to develop and maintain a positive, professional line of communication to ensure profitability and a successful job outcome.
A variety of issues can affect the outcome and profitability of foundation drilling operations, and you need to use proper bidding practices, forecast potential delays, communicate a change order policy, and account for budget overruns.
While technical challenges and disputes need to be avoided, they can come up. The best way to stay clear of these becoming more significant issues is to thoroughly examine the job’s specifications and site conditions before a budget or scope is developed.
Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to ensure a profitable foundation drilling job, and how to steer clear of costly mistakes, malfunctions, or downtime.
Study Your Sites Conditions and Construction Report Thoroughly
In most cases, once you begin exploring a foundation drilling project, some site work has been completed, and a soil boring and analysis should have been conducted. If it hasn’t, you can work with the engineering team or general contractor to perform a professional examination to develop and prepare your project.
Once you have this information, you can begin developing material, labor, equipment costs, and schedules.
Based on your site’s soil conditions, you will need to work with the engineering team to choose which type of foundation piles are best for the job.
End bearing and friction piles are the most commonly used foundation systems.
Depending on specific conditions, you may need to use skin friction, settlement reducing, tension or laterally loaded piles to ensure a safe, structurally sound foundation.
End bearing piles are bored into the bedrock and gain their structural strength from the stratum at the piles base. These require different drilling equipment for the various soil composition drillers need to go through to reach the bedrock. Typically, once the hole is drilled and cased, it will be filled with concrete to create a foundation. The foundation can then bear the heavy loads associated with larger civil, bridge, and commercial construction projects by displacing the piles load directly onto the solid bedrock.
Friction piles are not drilled into the bedrock stratum. Instead, they gain their strength from pressure filling the casing with concrete to create a base that extends beyond the bottom of the casing. Once the casing is removed, the completed pile creates friction which the pile handles evenly.
Your site investigation is the best way to identify which pile to construct and the associated costs to ensure a profitable job.
Develop a Complete Scope Within Your Foundation Drilling Capabilities
Before you bid or accept a foundation drilling project, it’s imperative to honestly evaluate your capabilities as well as the available labor, equipment, and materials to make sure you have a profitable venture and won’t have to utilize subcontractors midway through a project.
One of the most common problems within the foundation drilling industry is contractors being too eager to be awarded a project and bidding under what the actual project will cost, leaving them responsible for extra costs. When this happens, a firm can end up upside down financially, which is the worst-case scenario. If you’re renting drilling equipment, staying on schedule is essential to avoid higher rental costs, which can dig into your bottom line.
One way to increase profitability when working on projects outside of your typical scope is to work with subcontractors to outsource some associated costs. You can include their estimates in your final bid to create a value-based proposition that makes financial sense for you and your client.
Additionally, being too eager to get awarded a project and accepting work outside of your expertise, experience, or scope can expose your firm to significant financial risk.
Be honest with your capabilities and expertise when evaluating whether you can safely and securely complete a foundation drilling project. Not only will this keep your company fiscally secure, but it will keep your reputation of integrity intact throughout the industry, which is an invaluable asset.