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Soils Reports (again)

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Hello everyone,

Once again, I am trying to determine alternative solutions to the
blanket requirement for soils reports required in SDC D -- not for the
purpose of avoiding the requirement for a report, but to find some
reasonable compromise for smaller or simpler projects founded on known
soil conditions.  These smaller projects include footings for site
retaining walls, residential additions, small prefabricated metal
buildings, other light-framed structures, equipment foundation pads,
light poles, small signage, masonry fences, small sunshades or canopies,
swimming pools in non-expansive soil regions, agricultural buildings,
etc.  My fear is the logistics of requiring a soils report and the
timing of contract execution, production of design documents, and
overexcavation requirements, as well as the increased liability that
geotechnical companies will now absorb for such small projects, where
there was not a need for them to experience it in the past when the
engineer could use presumptive bearing values.

My thought is this:  Can the engineer-of-record prepare their own "soils
investigation" based on the use of engineering judgment with what is
known about and around the site in question?  Such information could
include data from file reports of nearby sites, USDA Soil Surveys,
knowledge of the behavior of likely soil classification due to seismic
loading, etc. -- is there a strict requirement for soil borings to be
taken and classified at a laboratory?  I am fully aware of the
legalities of stretching the neck out, but I am simply trying to
determine if there are any alternatives available.

If there truly are some really serious problems with finding an
alternative to a site-specific soils report, are you requesting a soils
report up front for the little projects I've summarized above?  Again --
I am fully aware of the legal issues that may come up, but strictly from
the point of view of rational engineering judgment, does anyone agree
that there might be some alternative means-and-methods for complying
with IBC 1802.2.7 (SDC D only)?  Especially for regions where SDS calls
for "SDC C", yet SD1 calls for "SDC D".

Yikes,
Dave K. Adams, P.E., S.E.
LANE ENGINEERS, INC. 
Tulare, CA  93274

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