Why Calculating Site Balance is Such a Challenge

Tracking site balance regularly is good for project budgets, but can be very labor intensive without the right tools.
Inaccurate site balance calculations can have major cost implications!
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Calculating site balance is complicated!

Site balance has one of the biggest impacts on a project's budget and schedule, yet it's one of the most difficult things to manage during the site development phase. There are several factors that can influence site balance, and they're constantly changing.

The formula for calculating site balance is complex:

Balance =

Raw Cut to Design (adjusted by shrink/swell)
– Raw Fill to Design
+ Removals / Overex / Remedials Delta due to shrink/swell
+ Utilities Spoils
+ Foundations Spoils
– Topsoil or other unusable dirt

Because it is so cost and labor intensive, site balance calculations are often only done once at the beginning of projects, and several factors can contribute to challenges:

  • Faulty Original Ground topo surveyed during the design phase
  • Unpredictable soil behavior due to a limited number of soil borings
  • Underground unknown

As the project progresses, site balance is even more difficult to track due to several factors:

  • Remedial quantities are difficult and labor intensive to calculate
  • Bulk/shrink changes over time and is almost never what you have expected
  • Design changes
Calculating site balance is extremely complex, especially when site conditions are frequently evolving.

To address these challenges in crucial moments, owners frequently order several independent consultants to run site balance analyses. Often, these consultants bring conflicting data, which start a number of nitty-gritty discussions to determine which is correct. This redundancy in data sources does not always resolve the uncertainty on the site balance projection, and usually adds more stressful and billable hours, without bringing clarity to the owner.

Off-balance sites lead to off-balance budgets!

Inaccurate site balance calculations can have major cost implications due to import/export costs for dirt. For example, 500,000 cubic yards of remedial grading could influence the balance by 50,000 cubic yards if the soil shrinks/bulks 10%. If it costs $25 per cubic yard to import or export dirt, this could cost the project over $1 million!

The Site Balance Solution

Calculating site balance doesn't have to be hard (or expensive!) if you have the right data and tools. 3D topographical surveys captured by drones are far less expensive than typical surveying, and TraceAir's site intelligence software enables teams to track site balance weekly.

Join our free webinar on May, 13th at 1:00 p.m. (PDT) to learn how you stay on top of site balance on your projects. TraceAir's Chief Product Officer, Maria Khokhlova, will lead the discussion, joined by Joe Tootle, Principal at ENGEO and Ivan Lvov, Chief Operating Officer at TraceAir.

Can't wait until then? Reach out to our team to learn how your project can track site balance accurately and frequently.

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