The two most important things that civil engineering provides people in an urban environment with are cheap and clean water supply, and cheap and clean sewage systems. There are arguments about which of them is more important than the other, but sewage can’t be temporarily replaced like water can be with bottled water, so at least during a short term crisis the risks of a sewage system that isn’t working is higher.
Sewage pipelines typically run under roads throughout the UK, and it is very important that no leaks occur. Any leak can spread germs and diseases which can present significant harm in people, which can then spread even further. Therefore in order to prevent widespread contamination it is very important that sewage pipes are well maintained.
As for developing and improving sewage systems, coming up with new ways to implement sewage management focusses largely upon coming up with methods which reduces damage caused by leaking and coming up with technologies which require less maintenance.
It is important that every building undergoes a survey every now and then to determine if they are still structurally sound, particularly for big buildings which contain a lot of people and are worth a lot of money. Often times these larger building’s insurance will require buildings surveys periodically for the insurance to remain valid.
A number of things need to be reviewed to determine if they need to replaced or repaired regularly. The two biggest ones that need to be looked at regularly are the water systems, which when containing leaks can cause significant damage to a structure, and roofing systems, which when containing leaks can begin to collapse. Even if the worst doesn’t occur to the building due to these issues, leaking water or a damaged roof can result in a significant cost in the long term.
Of course if you live in a earthquake zone or you notice damage to any support beams it is very important that an engineering survey occurs so that you can determine if any repairs are necessary. Although you can usually expect issues like this to not be as prevalent as leaking roofs and pipes, when issues around the actual structure occur significant costs can ensue.
Waiting for cement to fully settle and solidify presents a number of problems, both from a point of view of logistics and planning and a civil engineering point of view. It can mean that you need to wait and halt building work, sometimes for a very long time.
There are a number of factors which need to be considered when laying out cement, such as what else needs to be done on the construction project and ensuring that work can still be done while the cement is drying, and how long this drying period will last.
Cement dries at a speed dependant upon how much there is of it and how much moisture it contains. In some of the biggest building projects undertaken the amount of cement could potentially months or even years to fully settle, although methods such as laying the cement in sections can help to alleviate this to a degree.
A lot of people are astounded by the incredibly large numbers involved in the costing of a big building project like a school or shopping centre development, but once you understand what actually goes into the development of the building, it does start to make more sense.
If you look at a current example, there has recently been a £2 billion contract awarded to RAM Consultancy, a large and successful building contractor, to plan and manage the development of a School. This a gigantic sum of money, but a lot of things goes into such a project, such as reworking the sewage system so that it connects to the school, building roads to allow access, connecting the building to the national grid, and a lot more. After this, you still need to build the actual school.
There are of course many more examples of buildings of a similar size being developed for less money, as well as others which have required even more. The variables involved include those already alluded to; is the building sufficiently connected to the utilities that will be required. But in addition to these issues, the ability to get to building site and deliver the massive amounts of building materials can also have a very large impact on the cost when you’re talking about such large quantities of stuff.