Real Estate is often the single largest investment of your life, verifying that it is a beneficial investment is prudent. Real Estate purchases just like geotechnical work has many hidden and not easily seen conditions that once know will aid in the decision process.
Before you invest in property make sure you ask and find the answer to these critical geo engineering related issues (a complete investigation will include many more important questions and answers):
Does the architect, contractor, and structural engineer use a licensed geotechnical engineer or are they just guessing?
Is guessing okay with your insurance provider? Without an engineer of record, who will take responsibility for the safety and soundness of your geological site preparation and recommendation? For example, only an engineer licensed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can own and operate the equipment necessary to perform nuclear gage tests to determine soil characteristics. Geo engineers own and operate specialized field equipment to collect and determine soil properties and characteristics throughout the site.
What are the site-specific geological properties that will impact your project?
Structures designed without any geologic or geotechnical engineering analysis and recommendations could lead to a disastrous investment and unsafe structures. A safe structure begins on solid ground; a site that has not been properly investigated and prepared could be a ticking time-bomb, with site conditions deteriorating over time.
Can I use a low cost design on my foundation?
Do not count on a structural engineer or architect to answer this question. Only a licensed geo-technical engineer with years of experience can determine the proper design by providing the appropriate soil data to make an assessment. The worst-case scenario is if the architect or structural engineer believes that it is acceptable to guess about the geo engineering properties of the site – this often leads to major litigation.
Does the geo-technical engineer have the experience necessary to conduct the site investigation?
Nothing can replace years of experience conducting thousands of investigations and soil tests in the western United States. How many architects get their hands dirty working with soil?
What types of problem or issues might be overlooked by the structural engineer or architect because they don’t have the experience?
Problems include but not limited to determining the appropriate construction values and soil properties through lab analysis, immediate and long term differential settlement, erosion, ground water seepage, retaining wall structure, high groundwater, racking to settlement, construction in the floodplain, loss of land and more.