Pay Now, Or Pay Later � Using A Risk-Informed Mindset for Site Investigation Decisions

by Georgette Hlepas, P.E., Ph.D., Headquarters national geotechnical policy advisor at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,,
Vanessa C. Bateman, P.E., Principal geotechnical engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,,
, P.G.


Serial Information: Geo-Strata —Geo Institute of ASCE, 2021, Vol. 25, Issue 1, Pg. 60-65

Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: How much subsurface investigation is adequate to aid in the planning and design of a construction project? It�s a question every geo-professional must grapple with, particularly in an era where cost efficiency is at a premium. Studies since the 1980s have all emphasized the importance of investment in appropriate site investigations. Yet our work is all too often only seen as a cost rather than a foundational element of the design and construction process. In addition, competitive bidding pressures and ever-tightening delivery schedules make it very attractive to reduce upfront costs. Unfortunately, the early "cost savings" from reducing geotechnical investigations often come at a very high price. This false sense of economy can produce problems such as construction-cost growth, time delays, inadequate design, overdesign, and claims for alleged damages based on "differing site conditions." Thus, geoprofessionals have a two-fold problem: how to design a cost-effective site investigation that supports efficient designs, and how to communicate the needs to the client, owner, and project team? The answer to both questions is to take a risk-informed mindset to subsurface investigations and use risk management tools.

Subject Headings: Site investigation | Subsurface investigation | Construction sites | Benefit cost ratios | Project management | Foundation design | Team building


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