8B — August 31 - September 13, 2012 — Shopping Centers — Mid Atlantic Real Estate Journal



ith the recent tight economy everyone is looking to save By Ward McMasters, P.E., Earth Engineering Inc. Site investigation scope of work: Less costs less. . .or does it? W inspections which is why they were motivated to undercut the scope in the beginning.)

less are enticing. The trap however is the cost of under investigating any site and the potential financial landmines that can surface such as ur- ban fills, weak organic soils, clays, high groundwater, rock, etc. Not to worry, a respon- sibly prepared scope of work for a geotechnical investiga- tion should reveal insight into most of these conditions. The trouble occurs when the afore- mentioned economic pressures create a situation in which the firm with the smallest scope and subsequent lowest price is awarded the investigation (and often the quality control

m o n e y o n every aspect of a budding development pro j ec t , as they should. One of the f i rs t i t ems facing a new project is the

The cost implications of un- der investigating a project can be tremendous. I have reviewed many reports that should have been labeled as “preliminary” but were portrayed as the com- plete investigation. Insufficient coverage due to a reduced scope of work has left critically impor- tant factors to be determined at a later time. I would contend that these unknowns leave the development in a state of finan- cial uncertainty. Not defining something as simple as a rock cut can adversely affect the financial success of any project. In order to understand and fully plan for these critical conditions hinges on a “responsible” scope of work. I have seen countless projects impacted adversely by unknown conditions that would have been recognized through even a basic scope of investigative work. Is this the fault of the developer seeking a “cheaper” investigation or the engineer for offering this less than desirable scope just to win the work. This is entirely up for debate. What is not up for debate is the impact that sub- surface conditions can have on a project and the clear need to define these issues at the onset of any project. In general, it is important to include test borings to deter- mine the strength of the under- lying soils. This is the first step. Test pits are great and they allow for a visual picture of the upper soils, but they don’t give you data (other than a visual evaluation) of the soil strength. Therefore, be cautious of the quickie test pit investigation in lieu of a well planned scope of work. The real point of this discussion is that geotechnical engineers across our industry are a resource that should be consulted with regarding a scope of work for any investi- gation that fits a development plan. Find someone that you trust to develop a scope work for your project that protects you from being blindsided by unknown conditions. The financial savings of a cheap in- vestigation are far outweighed by the potential losses caused by unforeseen conditions. Ward McMasters, P.E. is president of Earth Engi- neering Incorporated, a full service geotechnical engi- neering firm established in 1990with offices throughout PA and NJ. n

Ward McMasters

subsurface conditions and their economic impact on the project. Often this site investigation occurs either before or early in the project financing and hence the pressures to spend





Geotechnical Engineers & Geologists

Construction Inspection & Testing Subsurface Investigations

Retaining Wall Design

Environmental Site Assessments and Remediation

Clean Fill Testing

Stormwater Infiltration Testing Carbonate Site Assessments

Laboratory Soils Testing

South Jersey: 856.768.1001 Central PA: 717.697.5701

Corporate Headquarters: 610.277.0880

Lehigh Valley: 610.967.4540


Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs