Geotechnical Baseline Reports

by Teresa Austin, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 12, Pg. 56-57

Document Type: Feature article


The greatest percentage of disputes in underground construction results from subsurface conditions that are different than from what is indicated in the contract. Adding geotechnical baseline reports (GBR), an evolved geotechnical design summary, to the contract documents could change that, say proponents. GBRs could join dispute review boards, escrow documents, and partnering as an effective means of avoiding construction disputes. Supporters say their use will move the manner in which geotechnical information is conveyed in a construction contract further away from You bid it, you build it, to a less adversarial position. ASCE's Underground Technology Research Council (URTC) will soon release a pamphlet to expand the guidelines for the preparation of GBRs. In 1991, the URTC, in the pamphlet Avoiding and Resolving Disputes in Construction, first recommended that a geotechnical design summary report be prepared by the designer to outline anticipated subsurface conditions giving bidders a set of baseline conditions from which to work. Owners benefit because the financial responsibility to deal with the conditions described within a GBR are placed clearly with the contractor, since the baseline conditions are contractually binding. The contractor would still have recourse for additional compensation in the event of difficult conditions, but would not need to include contingencies for conditions not contained in the baseline. Lower bids would be submitted due to the absence of contingency costs.

Subject Headings: Dispute resolution | Underground construction | Risk management | Subsurface environment | Bids | Contractors and subcontractors | Reviews | Owners

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