What is a Site Investigation?

what is site investigation?

What is Site Investigation?


Site investigation (or due diligence) is the process of conducting surveys on a site before starting a development. These surveys give you a full understanding of the land you’re using: everything from ground, water and subsurface conditions to flood risks and noise impact.

Carrying out proper due diligence ensures that projects progress only after ruling out any major risks or nasty surprises. It makes development run smoothly and cuts the risk of being forced into expensive changes down the road.

Who should conduct a site investigation – and why?


Anyone developing, buying or selling land should carry out proper due diligence at an early stage.

When is it required?

A full site investigation should happen in the earliest stages of development.

Here’s why:

1 – This is the best time to identify and mitigate any risks – otherwise fixing them becomes very expensive. Identifying and designing around utilities on the site, for example, is potentially much more cost effective than being forced to change plans due to unexpected pipes or cables.

2 – Surveys are necessary for planning. They will identify issues that planning committees will consider, such as noise, building height or density or the presence of heritage assets.

3 – Surveys are necessary for design teams. For example, engineers must understand ground conditions to design suitable foundations, while architects need a detailed topographical map, showcasing the opportunities and constraints of the site, in their designs.

A successful development depends on site
investigation before the planning stage.

What is the risk of not conducting surveys early?


Projects without a clear understanding of conditions risk incurring major abortive costs – money spent on works that are either no longer needed or must be redone.

For example: you might spend upwards of £100,000 on the design team – architects, structural engineers, planners and construction experts – only to later discover problems in ground conditions and find asbestos, contamination or utilities in the way. The lack of previous risk assessment grinds the project to a halt and you’re left out of pocket.

This happens all the time. Developers often risk hundreds of thousands instead of spending a fraction of that early to get surveys done properly.

Watch our video to see how RenKap is making unknown risks a thing of the past:

[qode_video_box video_link=”https://youtu.be/ltGgq3K5ci4″ video_image=”2942″]

What surveys should you do as part of a full site investigation?


A wide range of surveys are recommended, covering everything from topographical surveys to preliminary ecology assessments.

In order to mitigate your development risks, we recommend developers complete these 13 surveys as a minimum:

What surveys should you do as part of a full site investigation

Some of these surveys are desk studies (or desktop surveys), which means they can be done remotely, while others are on-site surveys and must involve a site visit.

For a full breakdown of each survey and when they are required, read our guide here.

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How does the current site investigation process work?


Traditionally, site investigation is a complex process that takes more than six weeks of in-house management time – per site.

Here is what developers have to do on each site:

1 – Identify all the required surveys

2 – Shortlist suppliers for each service – you should identify at least three suppliers for each survey to get a competitive price

3- Qualify each supplier – each supplier needs to fill out a pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) to prove they have the right qualifications, training, finances, insurance and track record to safely complete the work.

4- Create a scope of service – an often forgotten step, but you should set out exactly what information you require from each report, so quotes are returned on a like-for-like basis.

5 – Tendering and procurement – send out the instruction to tender (ITT) which will include site information, tender instructions, scopes of service and contracts. Review quotes and assess and select the right suppliers. Finish this with all the paperwork and contracts for all 13+ surveys.

6 – Manage work and site visits – you will need to arrange site access for each of the on-site surveys

7 – Read and digest all technical reports – suppliers will start sending emails and Zip files of their 30-40 page reports. You will need to read and understand each in order to collate all the recommendations and decide how to proceed on the site

One reason developers often fail to carry out a full site investigation is that it’s a complicated, drawn-out process. At RenKap, we have fixed that problem.

How does RenKap’s Site Investigation platform simplify the process?


RenKap cuts your in-house management time from six weeks to under one hour.

Here’s how it works:

The Current Process

How does RenKap’s Site Investigation platform simplify the process_

The Renkap Way

Renkap Site investigation 1 2 3 process

Can RenKap save me money?


Developers who use RenKap can save an estimated £5,500 per site on management costs alone.

Example of savings:

Renkap savings on site investigation

A yearly subscription to RenKap is £6,000, allowing a user to upload unlimited sites and receive tenders for each from qualified suppliers.

This removes the need for a development manager to spend more than six weeks managing the process manually. Assuming a salary of £40,000, six weeks’ pay alongside on-costs (20%) totals £5,500.

We have also proven we cut supply chain costs by about 20% for developers from the reduced tendering time. This means that a developer can break even on the RenKap yearly subscription with just one site.

Book a demo


A thorough site investigation can save you time, money, and headaches down the line.

Book a demo with us and find out how RenKap can make a difference to your development site.

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