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Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

For those of you who procure geotech/CMT services; I am curious about the viability of a geotech firm that focuses strictly on the geotechnical investigation and recommendations but that does not offer compaction testing, concrete testing or special inspections during construction.

1)How important is it to you that the company that performs the geotechnical investigation also provides the construction materials testing services (CMT) during construction?

2)If important, could you be persuaded to separate the services if the geotech was of reputable high quality, very responsive and fee competitive (but not cheap)? Consider turnaround times about half of typical and fee structures about 80 percent of typical. In addition, the geotech company could perform visual pre-pour inspections and third party review of CMT documentation at an hourly rate fee. Also, since there is no competition conflict from losing the CMT work, geotech would be responsive and helpful if issues arise during construction - rather than be unhelpful/unresponsive because the CMT contract was awarded to someone else.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

What size projects are you talking about and why do you not want to do these CA services? Around us for smaller projects geotechs are generally fairly inexpensive for the report but make all their money during CA with their on-site observation and testing.

I would not expect the geotech to do concrete testing. Almost always this is by third party (at least in my area)

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

All of the construction testing (soil, concrete, steel, special inspections, etc) are almost always provided by one company in my area. Sometimes that company may sub out some of the specialty items they don't do themselves.

I am targeting pretty much any project type or size, but primarily private funded and local in nature. Possibly municipal. Minority status would also be in play for government work, but again, private funded work would be primary focus.

CMT work requires a lot of equipment, personnel, vehicles and space. It is a machine that must be fed. The money in CMT is more in the volume than in the margin. So yes, most firms here are making the majority of their money with CMT, but they also have to feed a small army to do it. Geotech studies are inexpensive relative to the overall project costs, but the margins are much, much higher (especially if you have your own drill which would be the case here) and it only takes one person to run a geotech firm if work is thin.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

Sounds like you understand your market and what is typically offered. Not knowing the specifics sounds like it wouldn't be a problem if a third party is already typically engaged in those services. If it was something I was trying to grow I'd personally try and bring in the CMT under my umbrella and subcontract to someone else until I had enough volume to support it in-house. Obviously more risk there but more reward as well.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

I would be interested in subbing out the CMT, but the mechanics of controlling the accuracy of estimates (something I am not experienced in), controlling the quality of subcontractor work (firms that in-source CMT have a hard enough time with that) and how to report while maintaining liability protection may be a barrier too high to make it worth while (at least for me). That is why I am thinking third party peer review of these items would be the best route. It would offer another set of eyes to the client as well. However, I am definitely interested in hearing how others approach geotech without being a one-stop-shop for all things testing.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

In my experience, both as a geotech for a self employed geotech (2), state highway dept. head geotech (5), a full service geotech firm (19) and finally (20) as full time self employed working out of my home, plus now (17) part time;I have not seen any geotech firms that at least do some form of testing as related to the typical jobs. Sure the cost of a full scale testing machine for concrete cylinders and steel re bars, etc. takes some time to pay for, but having a complete service also brings in work for other engineers on staff eventually, such as environmental, structural and site development. However, my final situation did not have all of that technical support and it worked out fine. However, I subbed out the drilling and field density testing part, with me doing the paperwork, but kept a rather complete testing lab for that needed for geotech reports. However, I think it was the reputation that was developed before that which brought in the work and also via the subbing which went to friends that sent me work also.. I really did not have any competition later on. I suspect the lower overhead had something to do with it also. In summary, having a complete service brings in work that otherwise might not come your way. Also, a complete service firm can keep people busy in different branches as work load varies, even over winter slow periods.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

In my experience, nuclear new build always has a separate geotechnical investigation firm and CMT firm. Two reasons:

1.) Long timelines. You almost always bid them out separately, because the geotech investigations will drive huge changes to the scope.

2.) Division of Responsibilities: typically the Owner contracts the geotechnical work and the EPC contractor does the CMT.

That being said, this is obviously a very limited market.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

For the vast majority of the work we do here in the SE USA, these responsibilities are usually performed by the same firm/consultants. I for one wouldn't want to have to go shopping for additional help just to get the CMT functions. I'd go for the multi-disciplinary firm most every time, and save the hassle.


RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

Oldest Guy - you mentioned that you subbed out the soil testing in the last phase of career. Is that the only part you subbed out after you trimmed down to just the engineering, or did you sub out other construction testing work (concrete, mortar, steel etc.)?

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

Terratek: No materials testing, such as concrete and steel was a part of the jobs I did. However, the testing of compacted fill and test borings required the work to be done along with engineering part, such as giving the owner the allowable bearing capacity in my reports. I was fortunate in that my first employer retired about the time I started on my own and gave me all his laboratory testing gear, such as direct shear, tri-axal compression, grain size distribution and consolidation. A Remac valve sprig tester was used for unconfined compression. My house basement worked out fine for that. I also had a compete machine and welding shop and modified and also built testing gear. Since then I passed all of that equipment to one of the subs, also now doing engineering. Even though old, it still is functioning. It pays to stay friendly with those you have worked with in the past. I now get a little consulting work via them.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT


For those of you who procure geotech/CMT services; I am curious about the viability of a geotech firm that focuses strictly on the geotechnical investigation and recommendations but that does not offer compaction testing, concrete testing or special inspections during construction.

To be honest: I'd kind of like it. In my experience they turn out to be some of the best, most knowledgeable goetechnical guys. (I.e. geotech isn't just a sideline to them.) It's hard to get a hold of a good one anymore.....so I'd like it.

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

WARose, that's very interesting (and encouraging) and also in line with my thoughts.

Food for thought: most clients think that there is an inherent advantage to having one company provide both services. This advantage is, more often than not, perceived rather than real, because the departments within that single company are ran very independently. There are usually even two contracts to sign. The right hand often does not know what the left hand is doing, to the point that the services might as well be separated. But I digress. My inquiry is to see what the existing general consensus might be, rather than provide a persuasive argument one way or another. Perceptions are hard to change. I'm jut taking the temperature on how much work that change might require.

What part of the country are you located in?

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT


What part of the country are you located in?

Southeast [USA]. But I've noticed this no matter what part of the country the project is in. A lot of the projects I do involve structures and foundations for static & dynamic loads. And on the dynamic part......the knowledge has really been lacking over about the last 10 years. I'm not sure what has happened (although I have a few guesses), but in many instances, I've known more than the geotech I'm talking to. And when it comes right down to it: I shouldn't. I need him/her to make recommendations to me (not the other way around: i.e. references where the problem is addressed).

RE: Geotech Service Offering without the CMT

Terratek....you can do quite well as a Geotechnical Engineer without the numerous headaches of running a commodity CMT business. Leave that to the lowball testing labs who want to do $10 density tests for contractors. I agree with WARose....a good Geotech is a necessity....the CMT doesn't have to be there.

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