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Underground Construction Around Vancouver: An Introductory Guide

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Although most civil construction projects require some degree of open cut excavation, not every contractor can handle the work necessary to complete your underground construction.

When dealing with underground utilities, pipelines, electrical lines, and water systems, it’s imperative that all safety precautions be adhered to and that you have experienced leadership at the helm; too much can go wrong if you don’t. 

Underground construction is a specialized sector of construction that facilitates underground structures, such as underground parking lots, transit projects, sewer systems, stormwater management systems, and more through tunnelling and other techniques.

Tunnelling in areas where the surface is compromised, or the terrain is rocky and mountainous is common for municipalities around Vancouver and throughout British Columbia. It’s work not all construction companies or excavation contractors are comfortable dealing with, and for good reason. Unpredictable ground conditions, water ingress, ground settlement, and other tunnelling issues can lead to costly delays. 

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The Challenges of Underground Construction

Underground construction is challenging for many reasons. Safe underground work is dependent on careful management of the soil conditions, space limitations, existing infrastructure and utilities, and the threat of cave-ins during excavation.

At North Construction, our construction services include:

  • Assessing the terrain and local soil conditions
  • Preparing a strategy
  • Securing the appropriate equipment
  • Excavating the ground
  • Placing proper support systems
  • Building the structure according to environmental best practices
  • Cleaning up the site afterward

Underground construction projects require meticulous planning, precise execution, and innovative site preparation. Ultimately, it all starts by having the best people lined up for the job.

The Importance of Geotechnical Investigations

Geotechnical investigations are a crucial aspect of underground construction projects. These investigations involve assessing soil and rock conditions to ensure the stability and safety of underground structures.

By gaining a comprehensive understanding of subsurface conditions, construction professionals can select suitable construction methods and form a practical plan of attack.

Additionally, these investigations play a crucial role in community service, ensuring minimal impact on surrounding areas during construction activities.

North Construction Employs Overhead Technology for Underground Work

North Construction and its sister company, Spitfire Drone Survey, utilize the latest in lidar scanning and photogrammetry technology to map out all big projects beforehand. This equipment is also helpful for inspections and updates at locations that may be considered dangerous.

What Are the Common Underground Construction Techniques?

Tunnelling, one of the most prevalent underground construction techniques, serves a diverse range of projects. From underground transportation systems to utility installations and mining operations, the scope and scale of tunnelling projects can vary drastically.

In addition to tunnelling, underground construction projects often involve the construction of underground structures such as shafts and caverns. These structures serve various purposes, including electrical transmission, airport fueling, etc.

North Construction performs various types of underground construction. Some of the most common methods used today include:


This method involves digging and excavating a trench before covering it with an overhead support system. This approach ensures that the project is completed at a reasonable cost as it often takes less time to complete. However, this approach can prove disruptive in urban areas.

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Erosion and Sediment Control

Pipe Jacking

Minimizing disturbances to the surrounding land and communities should always be a priority for any underground construction work. Pipe jacking employs powerful hydraulic jacks to push underground pipes into the earth without excavating a large trench first.

Horizontal Directional Drilling

This method involves digging and excavating a trench before covering it with an overhead support system. This approach ensures that the project is completed at a reasonable cost as it often takes less time to complete. However, this approach can prove disruptive in urban areas.


This trenchless technique is often used for water systems and telecommunications networks. The process utilizes boring machinery that is operated remotely using a control panel on the surface. The pipe is laid at the same time the ground is being excavated. It is preferred over the pipe-jacking approach when a more extended installation is required.

There are different variations on all of these techniques, depending on the project type. Whether box jacking for an underpass or using the immersed tube method for underwater work, no two underground construction projects are ever the same.

Dig Deep with North Construction

No matter which underground construction method is employed, North Construction prides itself on its dedication to customer satisfaction and limiting its impact on the surrounding community. 

You always want to deal with a construction company well-versed in tackling such sensitive work North Construction specializes in excavation services using the latest technologies for civil and private sector construction projects across the province.

North Construction is happy to discuss your upcoming project in greater detail. Get in touch to learn how we can facilitate your work with innovative solutions.

North Construction Vancouver

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378 Esplanade E, North Vancouver
BC, V7L 1A4, Canada