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geotekker (Geotechnical) (OP)
18 Mar 09 10:58
We have recently seen some site grading plans that in the general notes column state  " A geotechnical report has been prepared and is available for information purposes.  All grading activity shall be coordinated with the recommendations in this report.  We contend that a geotechnical report is not a contract document and should not serve as a substitute for a project-specific grading specification that incorporates input from the geotechnical report.  Is anyone else seeing such comments? If so, how are you dealing with the issue?
fattdad (Geotechnical)
18 Mar 09 11:59
The designer was lazy.  The geotechnical engineering study provides design guidelines based on the subsurface conditions and laboratory test data.  From these recommendations, the structural engineer should size their footings and civil engineer design their earthwork (i.e., slope grades, suitable materials, compaction requirements), and the like. The civil engineer should also show the pavement section recommended by the geotechnical engineer and cite any assumptions pertaining to the design CBR value or such.

While I would never want my report to be part of the contract documents, I welcome the boring logs and laboratory test data to be  included in the contract documents.

For the report to be exclude from the contract documents (a good thing) and the contract documents to specify the recommendations of the geotechnical engineering report as a project requirement is just sloppy work.

Just one man's opinion. . .


¡papá gordo ain't no madre flaca!

Ron (Structural)
18 Mar 09 13:00
I agree with f-d. Lazy civil engineer.  In this case, the Geotechnical report has not been made a part of the contract documents, but is referenced and provided for information.  Nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn't substitute for properly prepared specifications based on the recommendations of the report.

The civil engineer should be in a better position to understand and incorporate the geotechnical report into the specifications and details, rather than having a contractor provide his interpretation of the geotechnical report and get it wrong, then to be blamed by everyone for screwing up something he shouldn't have had the responsibility for.

Actions such as this by an engineer certainly violate the standard of care of civil engineers and possibly constitutes negligence, but that would have to be pursued locally as that interpretation is part legal, part standard of care.
Drumchaser (Civil/Environmental)
18 Mar 09 19:43
If by site grading, you are relating to contour lines? grading around appurtances? I agree with fd and Ron....but would like more info. on what the def. of site grading is here...and what the geotech. report provides...a few bore holes to address unsuitable subgrade...pen tests? Surely an informational report is only for minor grading with no structure work.
dik (Structural)
18 Mar 09 20:27
I generally bind the Geotech report into the specifications with the information that the Contractor should supplement the information as necessary.

In my drawing notes, I also stipulate that the design information has been obtained from ??? report, number and date and that a copy of this is available.

Generally, the geotech report has sufficient disclaimers to...

BigH (Geotechnical)
19 Mar 09 2:37
In my view, interpretative geotechnical reports should never become part of the contract documents.  Borehole logs, laboratory testing and factual reports - I have no problem - either as an attachment or referenced.  Factual reports do not need disclaimers (which would likely not be all that effective). The one disclaimer would be that the borehole data is obtained at that borehole location and inferences away from the borehole may vary from "straight" line interpolation.  
fattdad (Geotechnical)
19 Mar 09 8:52
BigH:  I have no problem with my geotechnical study being bound with the contract documents, but there needs to be a divide that ends the bidding documents and begins supplemental information.  I just have a problem when the designers don't take the time to incorporate my recommendations into their approved plans for construction and just tell bidding contractors to read  my report to know what's required.  I think we agree on my last point, but, I'm not sure whether you don't even want the report provided as supplemental information.


¡papá gordo ain't no madre flaca!

geotekker (Geotechnical) (OP)
19 Mar 09 8:53
After further investigation, there was no intent by the civil engineer to prepare an independent earthwork specification.  The twenty-six "general notes" on the site mass grading(including storm drainage)plan did incorporate many of the recommendations (e.g. structural fill placement and compaction requirements) contained in our geotechnical report.

However, the final site grading plan - issued for construction - was the only design/construction related contract document related to site grading that would be provided to the various contractors.  In this case the project(small distribution center project)developer will also serve as the general contractor.  Our report was comprehensive; soil boring logs, laboratory test results, and sections that the observed subsurface conditions and provided site grading and building foundation recommendations.

BigH - I agree. Include with the contract package the boring plan,boring logs and lab test results for information purposes and give the contractor the option of supplementing the available information.  But the interpretive portion of our report should not be issued as-is.  We might find and identify a site condition, but not necessarily describe how to deal with it from a contractual standpoint.  In my mind, that is the civil engineer's responsibility.
BigH (Geotechnical)
19 Mar 09 19:11
The reason, again, in my view, of not providing the interpretative report - this is for the designer.  Things may have changed since the issuance of the report and, as a result, there may very well be conflicts with the new design/concept vs what you had in the original interpretative report and yet, you did not reissue based on the new concepts (may have been handled simply as letters, Minutes of Meetings, etc.).  Dangerous to let the contractor(s) second guess the designers.  I agree that much in the interpretative report is non-contentious; but as a general rule, I would be very very hesitant and even then, I would want a chance to revise the report based on how the design developed and was then put out to tender.
iandig (Civil/Environmental)
20 Mar 09 9:39
I think that this issue is being addressed in Eurocode 7, BS EN 1997. Not much use for those who don't use it other than as a reference. In the Eurocode, they make a clear difference between the Geotechnical Interpretive Report, and the Geotechnical Design Report. Geotechnical organisations can complete the first, but the second report includes detailed design which in the UK most smaller Geotech [read GI/SI] companies don't/can't fulfil all the requirements. This should mean that the first report [interpretive] is used to write the second [design] and therefore the interpretive report does become 'bound up' within the overall design and specification. Its still in its infancy so we will see how it resolves itself, however in the UK we do place a great deal of emphasis on the SHW, and even BS EN 13242, via PD 6683, refers to the SHW. As such most contractors are familar with it, and interpretting the SI data in conjunction with the SHW is relatively straight forward adn common practice. However saying all that, the teeth are in the Design report, not the Interpretive.
msucog (Civil/Environmental)
21 Mar 09 17:22
i don't have a problem with my reports in the least the contractor can't say he didn't receive it. the only caveat to my statement there is that there must be a disclaimer that the contractor is being provided the report for informational purposes only and cannot rely on it. the report should have that statement in there anyway indicating who can rely on the report (which should only be your client and maybe the designers).
BigH (Geotechnical)
22 Mar 09 9:27
msucog - we differ which is fine, but Question? - so why put the report in the tender documents if the contractor can't rely on it? What is its purpose?  Projects should have specifications, not a few sentences in a geotechnical interpretative report. . .   
fattdad (Geotechnical)
23 Mar 09 12:10
If my report is provided to the contractor I require that it is provided for information only.  Under this term, I think it is potentially helpful for the contractor to get this information.  I would still trust that the report that I prepared for the designer would be used by the designer and incorporated into the actual contract documents.  I guess I am at a loss on how the transmittal of my report (under these terms)to a contractor would otherwise be a problem.


¡papá gordo ain't no madre flaca!

geotekker (Geotechnical) (OP)
23 Mar 09 12:38
Here is my problem with a civil engineer (without notifying us) using our geotechnical report as a "substitute" for a project specific sitework specification.  Our subsurface exploration identifies certain conditions encountered by soil borings and/or test pits. The field data, coupled with our previous experience with nearby sites or the same geologic formation, and their potential impact on the proposed development are then discussed in the geotechnical report.  However, the report does not prescribe means and methods such as how rock excavation will be handled or paid for (classified vs. unclassified), how undercut volumes should be determined and paid, who is responsible for restoring a disturbed pavement subgrade after the grading contractor has left the site, etc. I stress that there are simply items that a sitework specification should cover that a geotechnical report does not.  As a result, without a project-specific earthwork specification (hopefully reviewed by the geotechnical engineer) there is a potential for misunderstanding and controversy during construction.  I agree that including a geotechnical report for information only is generally ok; that in my mind is not an issue.  
lovethecold (Civil/Environmental)
23 Mar 09 16:08
Perhaps the following link would be of some use in defending against using the geotech report as a part of the contract documents and job specifications.
geotekker (Geotechnical) (OP)
23 Mar 09 16:26
lovethecold- I appreciate you sharing the link.  CSI appears to support my position but, based on the response to CSI, perhaps IBC does not.  Regardless, the CSI article makes some compelling arguments for not using a geotechnical report as a substitute for project-specific earthwork specifications.

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