Bad Soil Conditions - Should we do this?

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,104
The independent guy I contacted is charging $3,100 but includes 3 site visits at $300 a pop and will supervise the project. They will also write a letter once it's done verifying everything by the pool builder was done correctly. Going this route is more expensive, but also allows us to use a bigger pool builder which may be the safer route.
That's probably the way to go.

It would be interesting to see what differences there would be between the independent engineer and the builder's plans.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,104
Thanks guys, much appreciated. The Geotech wouldn't draw up plans. They said I need a structural engineer and that they can just pull soil and give an analysis.
That really doesn't make sense to me. A geotechnical engineer should be able to design the structure. They don't just do soil samples and analysis.

The structure is not what's in question.

It's the foundation that is in question.

The job of the geotechnical engineer is to say if the earth is going to be able to support the structure or if there will need to be some sort of reinforcement that will support the structure.

The geotechnical engineer might say that it's safe to dig the hole and install the pool with no special considerations.

If they feel that the foundation needs an engineered solution, then that is their job.

What we're really concerned about is whether or not the pool is going to sink or shift. This has nothing to do with the structure.

The structure is relatively simple and doesn't need a separate structural engineer.

You can use a separate structural engineer, but it should be well within the capacity of the geotechnical engineer.

In my opinion, the geotechnical engineer should be the one to do the engineering plans.

If you were building a building, then you would want a separate structural engineer.
 
Last edited:

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,104
When designing a building, the structural engineer designs the part above ground and ensures that load bearing walls can support the weight and other such considerations.

They then give the plans to the geotechnical engineer so that the geotechnical engineer can determine how the earth will respond to the weight of the structure and what foundation is necessary.

The geotechnical engineer is responsible for everything below ground, especially pertaining to the stability of the building as far as shifting or sinking or other ground related problems.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jimmythegreek

Rattus Suffocatus

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2019
1,300
Corona de Tucson, AZ
So the more obvious question here (at least from an engineer's perspective) is what did he suggest to do technically? Any info on that yet?

I suppose you might not care as long as it is fine, but us engineer's brains work a bit differently....
 
Aug 16, 2017
13
Indiana
I am a civil engineer in Indiana (dealing with water and wastewater treatment, not structural or geotech). Generally, in Indiana, the geotechnical engineer would complete the analysis of the soils and offer a recommendation for type of foundation, allowable bearing pressures, or special conditions. Then the structural engineer would design the foundation or portions below grade based on the recommendation from the geotechnical engineer. Most of the time, a geotechnical engineer (around here at least) won't design the complete foundation due to liability.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,104
Most of the time, a geotechnical engineer (around here at least) won't design the complete foundation due to liability.
That's their job.

Why would the structural engineer be any less risk averse?

It doesn't make sense to say that a professional won't do a job due to liability.

If that were true, nothing would ever get done.

The job of the geotechnical engineer is to specify if the earth will hold the structure and to design any necessary structures to hold the primary structure.

The geotechnical engineer does not usually design the primary structure, but that's not the issue here. The primary structure is already mostly designed by the builder.

In my opinion, the geotechnical engineering plans are what's missing.

The structural engineer only designs the primary structure. Their job responsibility does not cover whether or not the ground will hold the structure.

So, if the pool settles, the structural engineer will take no responsibility for that.
 

ATXFirstPool

Active member
Aug 4, 2019
38
Austin, TX
James,

Unfortunately, what Indiana Engineer is saying is consistent with what I have found in my research.

What you are saying makes even more sense, but the Capital Geo Tech company you linked along with many others I have contacted are only willing to do soil samples. I researched Geo Tech Engineers in Austin and every website that does residential work describes sampling and analytics in their services, not designing any structures.

I will reach out to more companies today to see if I am missing anything. The other interesting thing is that the other pool builder I met with today said they can stamp or seal the documents from their engineer for $250. They are one of the nation's largest pool builders.


Rattus - no recommendations yet. The first guy that was going to charge $3,100 said he could provide that estimate and information for $1,200 then we could either terminate the project or continue forward to get the blueprints and supervised visits for the remainder.
 

ATXFirstPool

Active member
Aug 4, 2019
38
Austin, TX
Just had another call with Capital Geo.

The GeoTech will test the soil and make the recommendation on what is needed but won't design the pool or the structural reinforcement.

They will only make recommendations. They might say to over dig and replace with another type of soil or they might recommend a cradle with drilled piers in which case they will tell you to hire the Structural Engineer to design the cradle.
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,104
They will only make recommendations. They might say to over dig and replace with another type of soil or they might recommend a cradle with drilled piers in which case they will tell you to hire the Structural Engineer to design the cradle.
Ok, that's the main thing you need. How much will they charge for that?
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The other interesting thing is that the other pool builder I met with today said they can stamp or seal the documents from their engineer for $250.
I know you have way better cooks in this kitchen, but this line caught my eye. This sounds a lot like the "engineer" my solar company used for my PV installation, pretty much boiler plate engineering calc's for the standard way they install panels. For $250, I'm gonna guess that's the engineering for the pool's concrete and rebar, not the soil analysis and foundation engineering you need. Only cautioning should you go down this road, be sure you understand what you're getting and what that promised seal actually covers...
 

jimmythegreek

TFP Expert
Bronze Supporter
In The Industry
Aug 10, 2017
3,348
Morris Cnty NJ
Usually the geotech analyzes the soil amd his report will determine the structure built. With pools the better geotexhs will have input as to what types of reinforcement are necessary and form an opinion. But the structure and any additional piers, cradles, footings, heliocoils, etc fall solely on the structural engineers stamped drawing amd it's his insurance on the line in the end
 

ATXFirstPool

Active member
Aug 4, 2019
38
Austin, TX
All thanks for the feedback. For Capital Geotech, they charge around $2,500 which is fine by me, but they are 7 weeks backlogged.

I actually found a better solution this morning, which I think will be perfect. I got ahold of the engineer that did all of the soil reports for my neighborhood. He has the developer's info to get grading/cut/fill - basically anything that was done to the soil since they drilled the soil for samples.

He said he can use that info to determine the PVR and make recommendations for any soil improvement or structural reinforcement necessary. He's willing to do that and put a stamp on it for $750 and will let me know if he feels we need a new soil report.

I think this is honestly the best outcome I could have hoped for. I will let you guys know what he recommends.
 

Sollace

Gold Supporter
Aug 16, 2020
498
Bryan TX
All this tech stuff is completely over my head. . . . Yeah. I know.
But I wondered if you researched on this forum for any threads with a similar problem. Their resolve? Surely someone else in Austin or elsewhere has had conditions like this. This forum holds years of questions and answers from pool builds in the US, Canada, and elsewhere.

Maybe this suggestion will go nowhere. . . But. .. Have you googled your address, look at the subdivision map, then go on the satellite view and see where the pools are. Streets and addresses. I wonder how far the poor soil conditions go or if you can go knocking on more doors. Ask for more information from established pool owners.

Or if your area is still growing, go talk to some of the home builders.

-----------------

Okay I had time so I did a quick search. This thread came up from 2014.
 
Last edited:

ATXFirstPool

Active member
Aug 4, 2019
38
Austin, TX
Great advice Sollace. The pools are a few doors down. I have talked to several of the homeowners but none have done the correct due diligence.

As James has pointed out I would rather be safe than sorry. It may be overkill and maybe not. I am reviewing the GeoTech contract right now. The only concerning areas are below:

LIMITATION of LIABILITY. Client hereby expressly agrees that engineer’s total liability to client for any and all injuries, claims, losses, expenses or damages whatsoever arising out of or related to the project or this agreement from any cause, including engineer’s negligence, errors, omissions, breach of contract or breach of warranty shall be limited to the total compensation received by the engineer under this agreement, or the amount of ten thousand dollars (10,000.00), whichever is lesser.

NO REPRESENTATIONS or WARRANTIES. The parties recognize that the services provided by the Engineer under this Agreement involve the exercise of professional judgment and the rendering of professional opinions, about which reasonable engineers may differ. Consequently, and not withstanding any other provision in this Agreement, nothing contained herein shall be construed: 1) to constitute a guarantee, warranty or assurance, either express or implied, that Engineer’s services will yield or accomplish a specific result; 2) to obligate the Engineer to exercise professional skill or judgment greater than that which can reasonably be expected from other Engineers under like circumstances; or 3) as an assumption by the Engineer of the liability of any other person.

Based on what Jimmy is saying this is confusing now. The Geotech contract doesn't seem to provide much assurance, only here is what we think will work. If no structural reinforcement is needed and only soil replacement or some other remediation, then I would not need to hire a structural engineer, so where does the liability fall then?
 

JamesW

TFP Expert
Mar 2, 2011
23,104
The limitation of liability seems excessive.

Maybe try some other firms.

Here are some from a Google search.





 

Dirk

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Nov 12, 2017
8,624
Central California
Pool Size
12300
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
The Geotech contract doesn't seem to provide much assurance,
That's not correct. It provides absolutely none at all.

only here is what we think will work
Not even that.

Those clauses make his services less than worthless and completely negate any reason to hire him. And, sorry I've lost track, if this is the same guy that did the studies for the rest of the neighborhood then his business practices call those studies into question now, too.
 

ATXFirstPool

Active member
Aug 4, 2019
38
Austin, TX
MLA- Just got back to me with a change in language

LIMITATION of LIABILITY. Client hereby expressly agrees that engineer’s total liability to client for any and all injuries, claims, losses, expenses or damages whatsoever arising out of or related to the project or this agreement from any cause, including engineer’s negligence, errors, omissions, breach of contract or breach of warranty shall be limited to the amount payable by our professional liability insurance policy, at the time of the claim. We intend to maintain Professional Liability Insurance as long as we are in business.


Balcones - won't do residential.
MLA - The guy above with the limited liability clause.
Holt Eng - $3500 soil report, 7-8 weeks out
Henley - Just had a great conversation. They will do a fresh boring for $1,000 and a recommendation and put their insurance behind it. He would not put his insurance behind someone else's report which is probably why MLA had initially put that limitation in there.

So my choice is:

  • MLA - Use existing soil engineers from MLA who will take prior reports along with grading and fill info from developers to make a recommendation backed by their insurance. They have the benefit of really knowing the area.
  • Henley - Use a new company to do fresh report also backed by their insurance.
 

Sollace

Gold Supporter
Aug 16, 2020
498
Bryan TX
I thought that link I posted was interesting. Did you get a chance to read it? The poster was a guy 'twolabs' from NWTexas. It details his search for answers, what he did, and how his pool is years later.
 

Enjoying this content?

Support TFP with a donation.

Give Support
Thread Status
Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.