Key Points:

  • Taking chances with unknown subgrade conditions are not worth it
  • Geotech services eliminate surprises and create opportunities
  • Cost savings and tighter schedules are valuable Geotech benefits

Thinking about skipping Geotechnical Engineering services in your project budget? Not only are you gambling with safely getting your project out of the ground, you’re missing a chance to stretch your budget and streamline your schedule.

Jumping In Without Looking

Your site has been selected and conditions look obvious enough. You’ve walked the property and nothing seems unusual on the surface. Your budget is firmed up, people are in place, equipment is mobilized, and it’s time to dig in. If there’s a curveball lurking in the subgrade, you’ll deal with it on the fly, no problem. But then things get complicated.

One end of the site is covered with the kind of soil you expected, but you quickly run into rock at the other end, just below the surface. That’s going to be a problem for the straightforward foundation design you’re planning, and running utilities could be quite a challenge too. Meanwhile, back on the other end, the soil deeper down is so soft and mushy that there’s suddenly talk of drilling piers.

Maybe you get lucky and your build site is nothing like any of that. But as you dig, you run into rotting tree trunks, the remains of an old gravel road, or even a buried car. How do you deal with those surprises and make sure the subgrade is stable enough for construction? And then there’s another surprise. You hit groundwater, and as water pours in, you get a sinking feeling.

A watery subgrade can be a devastating surprise after construction is underway.

What was planned as a predictable start to your construction project is now a myriad of challenges. Even if just one of those surprises, or a range of others, reveals itself in the subgrade, your costs start to skyrocket and your budget begins to bulge. The bad news feels painful enough and now you’re headed toward an uncomfortable conversation with the owner. The project is getting much more expensive. Maybe so expensive that it ends just as it was getting started.

The Geotech Advantage

Making room for Geotechnical investigation in your budget won’t eliminate the challenges described above, but it can eliminate the surprises. Geotechnical Engineers don’t have the ability to erase reality, but they’re experts at shedding light on subgrade conditions so that you’ll know what you’re up against.

A clear understanding of subgrade conditions is a valuable benefit, even if the news below the surface is not good. Whether there are minor flaws in the soil or devastating problems, it’s always better to know before you finalize construction budgets and project plans.

Advance knowledge allows you to budget and plan for more complicated solutions when construction is still feasible. And in more extreme scenarios, it keeps you from falling into a money pit that just gets worse as you continue trying in vain to get it under control. As Alpha-Omega Geotech President Allan Bush frequently says, “If you think being informed is expensive, try ignorance.”

Geotech drilling is the only way to get to the bottom of subgrade conditions.

What if the investigation reveals good news about subgrade conditions? Did you waste your money paying for Geotech services that turned up no significant problems? No. Geotechnical investigation can also create opportunities that benefit your project budget and schedule. Findings documented in the Geotech report will confirm what you’re dealing with, opening the door to fine-tuning construction efficiencies in ways every general contractor and project owner values.

Confirming subgrade characteristics lets you nail down foundation development plans with certainty and confidence. You can pinpoint material costs, firm up schedules, and make more efficient design decisions. It puts you in the position of leveraging your Geotech team’s expertise and experience to develop solutions that align with project priorities, rather than hammering out desperate fixes to deal with surprises when options are severely limited.

Even the material cost of paving a simple parking lot can be streamlined when you know soil conditions and have the chance to plan for effectively engineering them for the job.

Collaborating with geotechnical engineers lets you plan smart solutions and helps minimize project costs.

A Net Positive All The Way Around

Whether the subgrade at a build site is found to be straightforward and easy or complicated and difficult, involving geotechnical engineers is always a wise investment. It doesn’t pay to take chances with the critical first steps of a construction project when a geotech contribution can provide the possibility of significant cost savings and schedule improvements. In fact, those savings typically offset the cost of geotech services.

Embracing the role of Geotechnical Engineering is nothing short of a strategic win-win for general contractors and project owners. Optimizing a construction budget and speeding up timelines amounts to value that speaks for itself.

Planning a project? Contact us about Geotechnical Engineering Services and Required Special Inspections >>