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Re: Geotech Reports

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While I don't copy the whole report, I do copy or paraphrase recommendations. I also specify credit for the work. You are not violating responsible charge if you are including the entire report, including the engineer's seal, or a part of the work and provide credit (I usually include the name and registration number of the geotech). It's no different than sealing an architectural set, where the other disciplines are collateral to the structural work. 

You don't include the arborists report because the trees darned well better be outside the building line. If they're existing, and inside the building, you should consider including it!  The civil plans are usually included in the architectural set already. There's no slippery slope here. It affects your structure directly or it doesn't. It's included in the CDs or not. You get paid the big bucks to make those calls.

In my humble opinion, taking a broad view of the building process and being inclusive in your design is your responsibility to both the client and the public. Putting blinders on yourself or applying them to the owner/builder does not serve the public interest. If all you want to do is sit in your office and drive a desk, that's your prerogative, but its not engineering as I was taught.

As for liability - if something big goes wrong on site, everyone including the hot dog vendor is going to get a letter from the plaintiff's lawyer. What make you think that omitting information about the project will make you immune? Are your footings not supported by the soil? Are you not responsible for properly sizing those footings?

Anyway, welcome to the land of the vocal. Don't take anything we say personally. I happen to like this list because it gives us (working engineers) a chance to argue points for arguments sake. That may sound unproductive, but I think it offers us all an opportunity to get a better perspective on what we do, and ultimately makes us more informed about the issues in and around our work. And that makes us all better engineers.

(yikes...time to go back to decaf for me.)


Charles R. Ashley Jr. wrote:

To coin a familiar phrase in talk-radio: “Long time reader, first time poster”, so here goes:


I have major concerns with “copying” the full report and including it on my plans.


The basic fact is it is not my work.  Therefore, why should I include it on my plans?  Wouldn’t I therefore make myself liable for any mistakes made by the geotech?  Am I violating professional practice laws, by certifying (via my stamp on my plans) someone else’s work over whom I have no review or authority aka “responsible charge” ?


Where does that stop?  Why shouldn’t I include the arborist report since it says I cannot encroach on any existing trees on the site?  Why not the civil plans showing all the existing utilities and their interaction with my footings?  Seriously.  This is a slippery slope.


And of all things to put on your plans, geotech info?  The most heavily qualified, “this is our best guess”, “good-luck in the field”, “wow, we didn’t get that in our borings” profession I deal with?  Not on my plans.  Besides, any one ever not had a geotech get out in the field, and then change his recommendations or is that just my experience alone?  Ok, so they change them, do I reprint my plans each time a revision is made?  In some municipalities, wouldn’t that subject my plans to another plan review?  And again, because of someone else’s work?


The fact remains one of the most significant reasons there are very few one-stop shops (architect, structural, EMP in one firm) is due to separation of liabilities.  Like it our not, it is true.  In those firms, if a mistake is made, there is no one else to blame.  So people specialized.  Each person does what he/she is good at, and relies on the fact that others on the team are good at what they do.  And if there is a problem, it diffuses the blame nicely.  (Just being honest.)


When I have plan checkers ask for that I respond with my statement above:  “It’s not my work, and it is not ethical or legal for me to place it on my plans.”  And if they insist, then I ask them to write a memo on bldg dept letter head directing me to be unethical and violate the law.  I have yet to get one of those letters.


“Thanks for taking my call.”


Charles R. Ashley Jr., P.E.

Advance Engineering



From: Kevin Below [mailto:kbofoz(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2007 7:54 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Geotech Reports


I always include the full report, because the geotech will sometimes point out potential difficulties with the site and I want the bidders to have as much info as I have.  I don't want to forget even a comma.  I copy any of his recommendations that I want to follow to the drawings or specs, so as to be clear what I require vs the recommendations. 

On 4/2/07, Jim Lutz <Jim.Lutz(--nospam--at)> wrote:

What I usually see is either a geotechnical report referenced as available for inspection by bidders, or the boring logs and lab test results included as an attachment to the specs.

Owners have an obligation to share their knowledge of existing conditions with bidders, such as subsurface investigations, hazardous material surveys, etc. The literature is full of construction claim judgments against Owners who failed to do so. Sharing the geotechnical engineer' s opinions and design recommendations may or may not be a good idea, depending on the intended use of the information . I think it is normally best just to share all hard data and let the bidder be responsible for its interpretation.

Jim Lutz, P.E., S.E .

720 3rd Avenue, Suite 1200

Seattle, WA 98104-1820

206 505 3400 Ext 126

206 505 3406 (Fax)


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