Kurt Sanborn: Big Issues with Underground Construction Projects


Most people never consider how detailed and complicated the construction business is. Those in charge of construction projects must coordinate sometimes hundreds of people in a well-managed and perfectly timed balancing act for many months and sometimes years to get the project to completion. For those like Kurt Sanborn, who take on construction projects, they can expect lots of stress, and little sleep for months at a time, but they can feel proud that their sacrifices will yield something they can see and touch.

There are some construction projects that have additional complexities because of where they are located. a few that come to mind or projects that are located on high plateaus or even mountains, ones that are located underwater, and ones that are build underground.

 For those construction projects that are built underground, there is a particular set of challenges that makes them extremely difficult.


A damp environment is a challenge for nearly any construction project. However when you build underground, it is particularly difficult to manage.  Below ground, there is increased humidity particularly if the construction project is near a water source. The problem with damp is that it causes everything to take longer. Any concrete that is poured will require in some cases double or triple the amount of time to harden because of the damp environment. Damped also contributes to the decay of parts of the construction.

Damp is also a health hazard for construction workers. Damp often brings mold and other dangerous health conditions that put construction workers at great risk. Finally, damp causes machinery to operate less efficiently and for parts to be replaced more often.Damp is a major cause of cost overruns on an underground construction project.

If it is discovered toward the latter half of a construction project, it may require parts of the construction project to be torn down and rebuilt. For this reason, damp must be monitored closely and there must be measures taken to minimize damp. One technique is to damp proof the construction site. There are professional companies that specialize in providing equipment including dehumidifiers and tarps that can control the construction environment.

Constantly Changing Regulations

The construction industry is one of the most regulated Industries in the world. Because construction is so dangerous there is a constant stream of new and modified regulations that are being pushed out to construction companies.

Regulations are handed out by both state and federal agencies and each construction project must sign on two following the regulations. Doing construction underground is even more highly regulated because of the potential damage it can cause to the environment and to the land above and around the construction site. Because laws are constantly changing regarding construction projects, there is a good chance that laws meant will change while the project is being built.

Construction managers must stay abreast of any changes in regulations or laws and make sure that the construction project adopts those new regulations. Federal and state agencies will send regulators to the construction site regularly.Any events of non-compliance will be penalized and depending upon the severity of the event, it may cause the entire construction project to be shut down.

Underground construction projects offer unique challenges that experienced project managers are used to managing. If you are doing an underground construction project make sure that your team is experienced in completing these challenging projects.

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