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Re: Geotech Reports

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Sorry for provoking this reply by my misleading post, Charles.  When I read back over my post, I realised I forgot to mention how I include the geotech report.  I certainly don't reproduce it on the plans.  I guess I skipped mentioning that, because it seems to me it is so obviously a bad idea, for several reasons, including the practicality of placing several pages of text and bore logs on my drawing, and the fact that that work belongs to another engineer.
I add it at the end of my specifications book, without referencing it in the Table of Contents of my Specs.  I mention the report in my specs section on earthworks, mention that it is a part of the contract documents, and that a copy can be found at the end of the specs book.  I think it is clear that it is the work of the engineer who signed and sealed it, and not under my seal and signature.  In my opinion, I do not render myself liable for his work, since he was hired by the owner as a separate consultant and signs and seals his own report.  At least, not any more liable than I already am in the context where all professionals may get sued when there is a serious problem.

I still think it is essential to ensure that the bidders have all the geotech information, and that my providing a copy is a service to my client by facilitating the task of bidders, maybe encouraging more accurate bids with fewer unknowns.
I don't think that simply telling the bidders that they can get the report from the geotech is any less liable than providing a copy, and it certainly complicates the bidding process.

We try to add little services like that when we can.  It's called adding value at little or no extra cost.  There is a great little book about it, called "The Fred Factor", by Mark Sanborn.  It's a real eye-opener for many people, especially for those engineers who think engineers are special people who deserve to be treated like kings.  But don't get me started, it's late ...


On 4/3/07, Charles R. Ashley Jr. <charles(--nospam--at)> 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)