Don’t Move Forward On Site Selection Without Stage1

September 22, 2020

Site-specific information is essential to the selection of any project site. Owners, what if you had access to fast and accurate preliminary information before you ever set foot on the property?  Design professionals, imagine providing a prospective client a well-documented presentation of what you already know about the geotechnical and environmental aspects of their site. You can use this to better assess risk, cost, and schedule implications, because you can now understand what is expected on, or under, any given site. This would be a critical first step toward project success.

We can now do that for you. Terracon provides a means to know more about a potential site than you ever thought you could within just a week’s time. We have developed a system to retrieve the massive amount of historical data, compiled over our 50+ year history, and combined that with geologic and environmental databases from more than 700 data map sources. This information is curated by staff with local experience from more than 150 nationwide offices to create a report of expected geotechnical and environmental conditions. We call this Stage1.

Stage1 has performed very well for us in its first two years as a predictor of geotechnical conditions, with our clients valuing a quick look at the substantial data we’ve collected. It’s helping clients gain a better understanding of a site before anyone has set foot on the property. Because of this, we have recently enhanced Stage1 to consider environmental aspects of site development.

Stage1 now summarizes considerations specific to the site in three key areas:

  • Geotechnical
  • Subsurface Environmental
  • Natural and Cultural Resources (including cultural resources and historic places, wetlands and waters, and protected species)

Essential information made easy

Remote Research

Stage1 is a collaborative, online experience, which means you can order and receive a fully remote investigation for any project site in the U.S. Stage1 is not invasive, and can be completed before land owners know their property is of interest. Easily scalable, with the ability to narrow or expand searches as needed, Stage1 is a fast way to compare multiple sites.

Stage1 allows early research with the ability to view initial GIS data (free of charge) before you order. In minutes, you can visualize prospective sites, gain an initial understanding of site conditions based on publicly available GIS maps, and view Terracon’s footprint of historical project experience.

Time and Money Savings

Stage1 is an efficient tool for understanding site conditions prior to purchase, or for gathering information on multiple sites earlier in the process, maximizing the value of planning budgets. With no knowledge or expectation of whether a site is viable, costs for exploration start to pile up before a project is truly underway.

Let this example help us explain. A client needed a preliminary evaluation of a 20-acre site prior to acquiring the property. Standard environmental and geotechnical site investigation methods would take three to four weeks, require owner permission and site access, with costs exceeding $10,000. They simply didn’t have the time to wait for the investigation.

So, we performed a Stage1. Within one week and for less than $2,000, without physical access to the site, we provided client a similar report of the expected conditions. It didn’t have site-specific data, but, because we had performed numerous similar projects in the area, we rendered an opinion of expected conditions with a high confidence. The Stage1 allowed us to develop a better informed work scope for the traditional exploration that, should the client purchase the property, we could execute to confirm our expectations.

Peace of Mind

With Stage1, you’ll have a greater understanding of potentially significant issues that may be present on any given site. Stage1 addresses site constructability, informs you how confident we are in our estimate of expected conditions, and introduces a local Terracon partner to take you through the next steps – whenever you are ready.

If you decide to move forward on a project site, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect and an informed or “smart” work plan for moving seamlessly into environmental due diligence and geotechnical field exploration.

A smarter site selection

Many clients already utilize Stage1 as an integral step of their smart site selection work process.

Kerri Smith, real estate development manager at McDonald’s, said “McDonald’s has utilized Terracon’s Stage1 reports for over a year now and we have been extremely satisfied with the results. The reports have been very valuable in assisting McDonald’s with evaluating site costs accurately … The portal is extremely easy to use and takes me all of five minutes to make the request. The cost is very reasonable, and we usually see a report within 48 hours. The reports are high quality and exceed all our expectations. The amount of historical data Terracon has access to is impressive and this has helped us tremendously during contract negotiations on various sites across the U.S.”

Chris Smith, associate vice president at AECOM, who has ordered more than 60 Stage1s for projects across the country, says “on a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate Stage1 a 10. This has been a flawless experience.”

Bryan Day, executive director of the Port of Little Rock, said “The Port of Little Rock engaged Terracon to perform a Stage1 geotechnical study on a piece of property we had recently acquired. Not long after this study was complete, we began working to recruit a major employer to locate their distribution center at the Port. The Stage1 work Terracon provided was a basis for the beginning of this recruitment process. Eventually Terracon completed more work at the Port for this prospect, and at the end of the day, this major employer – the largest project ever to locate in the Port of Little Rock – chose to locate here. Terracon was a part of the team that helped make that happen.” The inexpensive information Stage1 provided allowed the Port to demonstrate the desirability of the site to the employer in just a few days, while paving the way for additional work.

For projects large or small, make Terracon’s Stage1 part of your site selection process.

Vic Donald  Vic Donald, P.E., is the national director of geotechnical services. He has more than 35 years’ experience in geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering working with clients and geotechnical engineers across the country.

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