Soil Issues Detected During Construction


I was confused by a question from Practice Exam #2 and was hoping to get additional clarification as how to determine the best answer in a similar situation.

An architect and civil engineer are each in a contract with the owner of a new project. During construction, a special inspector comes to review site work and observes the proof rolling of the soil. The inspector concludes that some of the soils are unstable and unfit for construction.

Which of the following parties will be involved in resolving the issue? Check the three that apply.

Authority having jurisdiction (Incorrect. The authority having jurisdiction wouldn’t get involved in such issues.)

Special inspector (Incorrect. The special inspector would play a role in finding the problem and recommending a solution. However, they would not be involved in fixing the problem.)

Civil engineer (Correct. This work falls under the civil engineer’s purview. They will work with the contractor and owner to resolve the issue.)

Contractor (Correct. As the party carrying out the work, the contractor will be involved in resolving the issue.)

Owner (Correct. The resolution of the issue will have a cost impact, and therefore the owner will be involved.)

Structural engineer (Incorrect. The structural engineer doesn’t get involved with site issues.)

I had selected Civil Engineer, Owner, and Structural Engineer (not Contractor as the correct answer explains.) The project is already in construction when soil was deemed unfit for the project as designed, meaning that the soil would not support the building mass and a structural redesign might be part of the solution. Granted, a structural redesign might not be part of the solution if the soil didn’t reach adequate compaction for a water drainage issue or something similar, but I can think of a few situations in which it could be. Even though it wouldn’t be true in every situation I thought Structural Engineer might be a better answer than Contractor, who wouldn’t be bound to help resolve the issue but instead to carry out the resolution determined by the other parties.

Could someone help clarify the Contractor and Structural Engineer answers? Thanks!

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@coachchrishopstock can you please take a look at this question and see if you can help clear this up?


Hi @sillscai , thanks for your question!
This one is definitely tricky and is more of a select the best answer(s) type question, using the information given in the question. I agree that a structural engineer may become involved later on in the process of resolving the issue - if the foundations need to be redesigned, and a solution to remediate the soil condition is impractical or impossible. Given that this question simply states that an inspection just occurred and the soils were deemed unstable, I would say that the answer is correct as stated.
The contractor would be involved because the proposed solution will certainly affect cost and time, and therefore the contractor’s input will be important to the owner in determining how to proceed.

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