New GBA Case History: Suspiciously variable test results?

Resource Collaboration Committee                                                                                     

A public-school district (the “District”) retained the Member Firm to perform geotechnical-engineering studies for several buildings at two schools. The Member Firm’s geotechnical reports both contained identical recommendations for “select” fill to be used in constructing the building pads for the schools.

The District retained different design teams for the two schools and the Project Specifications for the two schools, not surprisingly, differed significantly, and neither were completely consistent with the recommendations that the Member Firm provided in their geotechnical-engineering report.

A field representative testing compaction of the building pad fill identified inconsistencies and discovered onsite mixing of native soil with import material, a clear violation of the geotechnical recommendations. The earthwork sub-contractor was forced to remove and replace the structural fill for all the nearly completed pads which triggered a legal dispute. The Member Firm avoided losses emphasizing the importance of field representatives that know project specifications, observe daily field activities closely, and communicate with project management to identify construction defects and potential risks.

Lessons Learned include:
• Project Risk is Inversely Proportional to Project Size, and Complexity, and Budget
• Trust Your Gut
• If You See Something, Say Something
• Half a Loaf Isn’t Always Better than None
• Protect Yourself. Don’t Rely on Others

Case Histories are real-life stories about GBA member-firm experiences. They provide background, problems, outcomes, and lessons learned. There is no easier way to learn expensive and time-consuming lessons than from others that went through the pain first and shared their experiences so we can all learn.

GBA Case Histories are free to all members.

Download Case History #110: HERE