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RE: Requiring soils reports

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Before being downsized into nothing, the company where I worked for over 25
years had the definition of proposed projects analyzed by an independent
company for completeness and likelihood of staying within the cost estimate
before management would give approval to spend any capital.  The project
"grade" was a number from 3 to 12 with the lower the number the better.  The
grade of a well defined project that would likely stay within the estimated
costs with a reasonable contingency allowance would be in the 4.5 to 5.0
range.  This grade was determined by an in-depth interview and a list of
questions that would be answered by the project team.  This analysis company
had a huge data base of completed projects from the largest chemical and
petroleum processing companies around on which to base their ratings.  Their
grading system held soil reports to be one of the single most important
items in the definition of a project.  The final grade could vary an entire
point based on whether or not you had soil borings and geotech reports in
the actual location of the project.  This importance was ostensibly due to
the extremely bad experiences of soil "surprises" that had impacted the
projects of these companies to the point of causing major project cost and
schedule impacts.  Note that this data is from companies that have done
thousands of multimillion dollar projects with experienced engineers and
contractors.  So this history indicates that it is best to spend that $5k on
soils data before investing that $5M on engineering to build that $50M

Single dwelling houses may allow you to take a less stringent look at this
item provided there is other construction in the immediate area that you
have some founding information and history on, or perhaps an extension onto
a 10 year old home that has a classical foundation without any history of
problems.  But just using some "conservative" bearing values doesn't resolve
all the problems that can be circumvented by getting this information ahead
of time.

Michael E. Rissell, P.E.
Project Manager
Emerson - PC&E, Inc

-----Original Message-----
From: seaint-return(--nospam--at) at INTERNET 
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 3:07 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at) at INTERNET
Subject: Requiring soils reports

I'm interested in knowing how many of you require that soils reports be
provided prior to the start of a building design, and how many assume soil
properties to do foundation design with the caveat that a soils
investigation be done prior to the start of construction, and any changes
required to the structural plans due to the differences between assumed and
actual soil conditions are an additional service.  Thanks in advance for
your response.

Albert J. Meyer, Jr., P.E.
Martin-Espenlaub Engineering
Philadelphia PA
(215) 665-8570 Tel
(215) 561-5064 Fax

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