#86 - Case History - Dream Home or Nightmare instead?


September 7th, 2021

28 mins 42 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

GBA Case History Series – Case History #86 - Dream Home or Nightmare instead?


GBA has published over 100 case histories based on real-life events that have happened to geoprofessional firms. This episode in the series explores Case History #86 where the GBA member firm conducted a geotechnical engineering study and performed COMET services during earthwork for a builder on a single family home in an area where expansive shales are interbedded with sandstone. The member firm advised for slope-stability analyses. Eight months after construction was complete, the foundation started to move, creating distress in the slab and some walls. Remediation attempts were unsuccessful and as a result the project went to litigation.

Our Guest

Carrie Foulk, PE, GE – Geotechnical Group Manager/Senior Geotechnical Engineer/BSK Associates (Link to Profile)

Carrie Foulk is a senior geotechnical engineer at BSK Associates in Livermore, California. She has been in this business for about 20 years, and is the geotechnical technical lead for the company, as well as the geotechnical group manager in Livermore. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Washington (1996) and a master’s degree in geotechnical engineering from University of California at Berkeley (2002). She is professionally licensed as both a civil engineer and geotechnical engineer in California. She serves as chair of the Geotechnical Business Committee for the GBA and is currently part of the Emerging Leaders Committee. Her career highlights include taking 5 years off when her children were born to be a stay-at-home mom.

Topics for discussion include:

  • Case History 86 background. [1:42 min.]
    • What is Shale? [1:56 min]
    • What are pier foundation? [2:38 min]
    • What are spread foundation? [2:54 min]
  • The difference between pier foundations with a structural slab and spread foundation? [11:45 min]
  • Benefits and drawbacks of a structural slab built on deep pier foundations [12:55 min]
  • Imporatnce of soil removal and replacement (overexcavation). [14:40 min]
  • Differential settlement and causes. [15:40 min]
  • Standard of Care: Statewide vs. Local Standards. [20:04 min]

Lessons Learned:

  • Known risk of residential work. [21:25 min]
  • Providing clients with multiple solutions - How to emphasize the importance of the foundation decision? [ 23:02 min]
  • What went wrong with construction testing? [23:45 min]
  • Why did the slope stability become such a big deal when it initially seemed like it was not? [25:25 min]
  • Smaller projects do not equate to smaller risks. [26:40 min]



This episode was produced by the following GBA Members: