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Pavement Assessment Consulting

Pavement Assessment Consulting

Pavement Assessment Consulting

I'm a PE and LEED AP trying to think of business ideas.  I don't really have much of an interest in having employees, but would like to do something that i can do solo.

One idea i had was after doing some pavement condition assessments for commercial clients.  I believe some large retailers or even municipal clients may want to know what the condition of there parking lots or roads are and what it would entail to fix them.  Basically i'm thinking for about $2,000 per site i would provide the following:

-Make a site visit and assess the condition of all pavement
-Divide the pavement areas into sections and rate each section based on the PASER rating system
-Provide photos of the pavement
-Color aerial of the site showing the sections
-Detailed description of distress in each section
-Recommendations for paving improvements
-Approximate cost estimate of fixes
-All of this in a formal report

I figure if I mangae to convince a large chain retailer this could lead to a proposal of multiple sites. So a larger contract instead of just one at a time.

Does anybody have any criticsm of this?  Pitfalls i should look out for?  Better ideas?  I'm just constantly trying to come up with entrepreneurial ideas that are simple yet effective.  Any input would be much appreciated.  Thanks!

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

Great idea, it is a niche and would be in demand.  My suggestion is not to limit it to pavement evaluation.

Add other services, maybe performing asphalt mix designs for plants, performing R-vale tests in your Garage for geotechnical firms and may be travel geographically, say 200 mile radius to potential clients.

It has been my experience that the clients drive the bulk of the work you get-so the firm you start us may be very different than the one you will have in 5 years.  

As the economy returns, you will have more work than you can handle, so employees may be inevitable.   

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

Ha ha, yeah i figure maybe i was giving away my "brilliant" idea.  thanks for the response STVU.  

I was thinking this may be a somewhat recesssion proof plan since some commercial retailers look for other ways to stay busy other than new construction when the economy goes sour.

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

I used to work for the city and we had an equipment with built in GPS on it to locate all the damages on sidewalks.  Then they load it up to their GIS database.  Then they know where to focus their money.  They pay interns to walk through all the sidewalks in their County!!!  They started doing that on the road too but they did not use GPS.

Never, but never question engineer's judgement

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

Wouldn't an asphalt/paving company do it for free??

Of course I would question their suggestions - but maybe that is where you would jump in??

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

I think a paving contractor could do it, but like you said, it would be wise to have a third party conslting IMO.  Also i'm not sure if a contractor wants to get involved unless they feel confident there will actually be work done.  I think the benefit of this service is the abilty to provide a client with information so they can budget where to allocate their money.  

As I've thought about this further, there may be similar opportunities for assessing the condition of all different types of infrastructure.  Whether it be watermains, sewer, pavement, etc.  Most public works would probably have assessments done by government employees.  But there must be plenty of privately owned infrastructure that needs replacment.  any thoughts on this?  I'm sure its being done by somebody.

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

While it's a nice niche market, there is not a great demand for it.  Most large companies lease their space, so you'll have to go after the developer/owner types.  Historically, they have been of the mindset not to fix until broken.

Many of the "sealcoat"(read:pavement painters)go in and sell their products to solve all pavement problems.  They do that successfully (sell the product, not solve the problems), so that's what you'll be up against.

This area requires a lot of client education.  I've been doing similar for many years, but it has never been enough to be a self-supporting part of my work.  At one time I worked as a Senior Principal for a large international consulting firm that had its own pavement consulting group.  We were moderately successful at the commercial market, but moreso with the government agencies (Feds, Airports, state DOT's).

Good luck.  It's legitimate, it's needed, but it's a tough sell.

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

Thanks for the input Ron, much appreciated. I had also thought about the lease space issue.  It would have to be someone like a Wal-Mart for instance that owns its own property.  And i'm beggining to think it would be more viable when part of a larger group of services, like a geotech firm that does this.

The sealcoating is a total waste like you say, just paints it.  I think in some instances its worth it for aesthetic purposes, good maybe used in conjuction with other fixes.

I'll keep brainstorming!

RE: Pavement Assessment Consulting

trey...you're right.  It is better as an adjunct service with Geotech and Materials consulting.  The large firm I was with for 18 years did exactly that.

There are a few firms that specialize in just pavement consulting; but they are high level academic types and have expensive equipment (falling weight deflectometers, high speed distress logging, etc.).  There are maybe 3 or 4 major ones in the US and they do most of the fed and state work.

I still do some falling weight deflectometer work occasionally, but not enough to justify the equipment. One of the manufacturers also has a testing group that will do the testing and I interpret the data.  It is mostly for litigation work and involves failures of a variety of pavements.  One I'm working on right now is a bus maintenance terminal.  I've been fortunate enough to work on some very interesting pavement issues/failures such as missile haul roads (very, very heavy equipment), international airports, a military airfield, Space Shuttle travel bed, log stacker/port container pavements, and a bunch of parking lots/truck terminals/warehouses and municipal/county/state roads.

The failure stuff is fun and interesting for us geeks.  Find a few of those to work on (warehouses, truck terminals, etc are good ones)and you'll get a reputation (assuming you do a good job!!) that will feed other work.

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