Importance of feasibility studies

Feasibility studies of an engineering nature are needed for most construction projects. It can be an advantage to a promoter if he employs an independent consulting engineer to check the technical feasibility and cost of the project. The consulting engineer should be able to bring extensive design and construction experience in the type of work the promoter needs, and be able to offer economic solutions to problems his experience tells him are likely to arise. The value of an independent consultant is that he uses only his professional judgement in deciding what will serve the promoters interests best. Such a consultant should have no relationship with any commercial or other firm which could have an interest in favouring any particular kind of development.
In the initial stages, the studies usually concentrate on various options for the location, design and layout of the project. The studies may include different methods for producing the required results, such as the alternatives of building a dam or river intake or sinking boreholes or buying water from an adjacent company to produce a new supply of water. Accompanying this work there will be data gathering and analysis, followed by the development and costing of alternative layouts and designs, so the promoter can be assisted to choose the scheme which seems most suitable.
Site investigations are particularly important, and sufficient time and money should be spent on them. Although they cannot reveal everything below ground, inadequate site investigations are one of the most widespread causes of construction costs greatly exceeding the estimate. On large or specialist projects, trial constructions or pilot plant studies may be necessary such as, trial construction of earthworks, sinking of test borings for water, setting up pilot plant to investigate intended process plant, or commissioning model tests of hydraulic structures.
The feasibility studies should include a close examination of the data on
which the need for the project is based. Many instances could be quoted where large sums of money have been saved on a project by carrying out, at an early stage, a critical examination of the basic data the promoter has relied upon. This data has to be tested for accuracy, reliability, and correctness of interpretation.

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