Signing Letters for CMT
Signing Letters for CMT
As the head engineer in my branch office, I routinely seal all kinds of letters verifying that "results of or tests and observations indicate the project was constructed in general accordance with the project specifications". About 99.999% of the time, I've never been to the project to witness any of the construction. We rely completely on our field technicians to monitor construction unless an issue of some sort arises. We have CMT PM's who are supposed to keep tabs on the techs, but that doesn't always happen as designed. The fact is, many of our field technicians are not to be trusted. This is a dirty truth at all firms in my area and has been since the dawn of CMT time. The industry simply doesn't allow for high enough pay to retain a majority of truly skilled and knowledgeable field techs in the southern US.
The company I work for is very successful and pumps out work like a factory. I feel uncomfortable signing these hundreds of documents a year even though the way we operate is all within standards of practice. Nobody is putting a gun to my head for my seal, but I have to be willing to play ball if I expect to maintain my position as a manager or advance. I don't seal anything with failing tests (that I can find) but my faith in the quality of passing tests is limited. It seems that at least 20 percent of the jobs that are presented to me for review (meaning the building is already there and everything is supposed to be good to go) have issues with them.
Here is an example of what makes me nervous: I recently had a project where we did the testing and were not the geotechnical engineer of record. They were supposed to place 4 ft of select fill over 6 ft of moisture conditioned soil in order to build spread footings. This recommendation was in an addendum report that was noted on the plans. What actually happened was that they only put 1 ft of select fill over 9 ft of moisture conditioning (improvement intended for slab foundation) and then built spread footings. We didn't have compaction tests for the select fill - not even observations. This is the Contractor's fault for not calling us out to the site. However, the CMT PM (who happens to be the office manager) submitted a conformance letter. When the Client requested a sealed copy for a certificate of occupancy, I get involved and find all these problems which is too late to fix. I didn't seal anything but it was a cluster.
Does anyone else in geotech have this concern or deal with these kind of issues?