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, georgette.hlepas@usace.army.mil,
Vanessa C. Bateman, P.E., Principal geotechnical engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, vanessa.bateman@usace.army.mil,
, P.G.


2021


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 | Risk management | Construction management | Foundation design | Construction sites | Project management | Engineering profession

 

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