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The Value of Geotechnical Consultants

20 February 2018 / by Lyle Simonton (author) / St Louis
Photograph courtesy of Marina Torch. (photo: Marina Torch)
Photograph courtesy of Marina Torch. / (photo: Marina Torch)

Lyle Simonton explains how geotechnical engineering contractors optimise foundation design and resolving issues that arise during the construction phase of buildings.


Geotechnical contractors are important for any construction project, and perform a crucial function by interpreting geotechnical reports, evaluating structural foundation requirements, recommending the most feasible and cost-effective solutions, and designing and building solutions.


Their work involves significant risk and therefore impacts on construction project costs as well as the design of facilities.


Adding value during construction planning

Geotechnical contractors play a vital role in a project’s success long before groundbreaking.


It starts with an exhaustive geotechnical investigation that results in a report describing existing site conditions; including soil and rock characteristics and how these may impact on foundation structure and final design plans.


Geotechnical and structural consultants know what type of foundations will work for a project, and will often advise on alternative approaches - and keep construction, operating and "whole-of-building-lifecycle" costs in mind. By way of illustration, deep foundations for supporting three- or four- storey structures can often be replaced by more economical, aggregated pier ground improvements that utilise spread-footings.


Indeed, there's usually more than one way to support a structure and geotechnical contractors create additional value by assisting in drawing up initial project specifications. 



Bringing value on the construction site

There are many ways a geotechnical contractor can provide true value to a project that is under construction.


Those with in-house engineering staff commonly ensure continuity through all stages of a project, from interpreting reports to making recommendations to designing and building solutions to tight deadlines.


On-site geotechnical contractors are also able to adapt to sudden changes in site conditions or design requirements.



As ever, good working between general contractors and specialty contractors or subcontractors are essential as they ensure everyone works toward a common goal and project milestones are met.





Lyle Simonton


Lyle Simonton

Lyle Simonton is the director of business development with Subsurface Constructors, Inc. (www.subsurfaceconstructors.com), a St. Louis, Missouri-based geotechnical consulting practice that was founded in 1906 and has been in continuous operation for more than 110 years and is renowned as one of the United States' leading full-service foundation contractors.

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