Each construction job site is unique with its own environmental characteristics. The novelty, however, doesn’t stop there as each site is surrounded by different properties, which can range from residential to industrial to mixed-use. These variables come together to create construction site jobs needing people with diverse skills and experiences. This work calls to those who love the early stages of a construction project and a diversity of tasks as the project unfolds.
Any building career requires a keen sense of details and a fascination with how to put things together. There are many types of construction site jobs, but none are more important than establishing the legal boundaries of the land.
Surveyors’ work with sophisticated technologies to confirm where one property ends and another begins. They might also set grade stakes to show where the land must get raised or lowered during that process. It might also be the surveyors’ job to mark out the locations of major project aspects like building corners. When these construction site jobs get finished, there is often not much showing on the land yet. However, without them, everything that comes after is in jeopardy.
Many construction jobs that start early in the project relate to getting the utilities to the site. Not just getting them to the site, but actually getting them exactly where people need them.
Most times, it means digging trenches with backhoes and shovels. Workers need to work with local utilities and local government to get connected to sewage and freshwater lines. They also work with utility crews picking up where they have left off.
Perhaps one of the most interesting construction site jobs is dealing with existing conditions. While this often applies to properties being renovated, existing conditions can also be present in new construction. These project jobs include things like asbestos removal, investigating structural issues, reviewing original blueprints, finding deficiencies in utilities, comparing current site conditions to what’s shown on the new building plans, and assessing the safety and security of the site.
This work is especially valuable when done before bidding on the project. When contractors know in advance about the potential issues that could affect construction, their bid is more accurate. But even when done after winning the project, knowing the existing conditions saves builders from surprises. Working on these project aspects is a lot like being a detective, and it requires a keenly analytical mind.
Before work crews get moving on the tasks before them, they need the right site conditions. All construction sites need access ways that allow smooth movement of equipment, people and materials. Sometimes, one part of the site needs bridging work or berm shoring. Sites always need dumpsters and materials storage, and somebody has to arrange all these aspects, while others move and arrange the materials to make it happen.
Construction site jobs often include building or setting up temporary structures. The buildings might house equipment and components that will go into the project. They also serve as the site’s project headquarters, where the project managers and superintendents meet with project participants to manage the project.
One of the biggest challenges on any construction site is managing materials. Materials are always subject to theft, especially high-value items. Not to mention, there is always a tension between the timing of tasks and getting the materials to the crews. This is where staging comes in. With staging, site prep workers create secure, weather-resistant places close to where the materials get used. Work crews have easy access to these staged materials, which helps to speed up their tasks.
Every construction site has three challenges for the crews who work on-site issues:
– Erosion control is increasingly an issue on construction sites because of increased severe weather events. When erosion runs unchecked, it washes away valuable topsoil, undercuts previous construction, and poses flooding risks. Site crews will often use topographic surveys to map out where water will flow across the site. Then, they erect barriers, channels, and containment pits to manage the runoff.
– Dust control is crucial for projects with large-scale demolition, but it is also necessary on open, windswept sites with little vegetation. Silica dust coming from sand and from cutting, sanding, and grinding stone and concrete is considered an especially dangerous material that can affect the long-term health of people exposed. PMs and supers use administrative and engineering controls for dust and may rely on personal protective equipment. Site workers use dust suppression tactics like water and capturing systems to control this site problem.
– Noise control is necessary for almost any construction job. Tools, equipment, loading materials, and many construction activities produce a lot of noise. Sometimes, it’s not so much the noise that individual activities produce, but the combination of all the noise from multiple ongoing activities. Again, PMs and supers rely first on administrative and engineering controls and fall back on PPE, where most effective. Administrative controls might include limiting the number of machines operating simultaneously in one place. Engineering controls include tactics like soundproofing and redesigning activities to produce less noise.
Many construction site jobs don’t require specialized skills or degrees. In fact, they are easily within reach for people who have a general aptitude for mechanics, physics, and the natural world. The work is physically demanding but also rewarding. Seeing a construction site in action and knowing you helped make the infrastructure that keeps it humming can be a great source of self-satisfaction.