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Geotechnical

Geotechnical services are important through all phases of a project, from concept and planning, through land acquisition, design, and construction of a project, whether it is a single-family custom residence, commercial/retail development, high-rise building, manufacturing plant, transportation facility, or any other structure that is supported upon or within the earth.


KC Engineering’s professional engineers and staff help clients evaluate the subsurface condition of a site in order to establish the most geotechnically feasible and cost-effective earthwork and foundation alternative. This involves adequately investigating, sampling and analysis of the earth materials in addition to incorporating our extensive knowledge database from other projects in the vicinity. Using the compiled data, we provide the most geotechnically and cost-effective design solutions while addressing the risk of poor performance of foundations, floors, retaining walls, slopes and pavements. Where required, solutions are provided for mitigation of complex geotechnical hazards such as liquefaction, landslides and slope stability, and compressible and expansive soils.

While we recognize that our professional and technical abilities are vital to the successful completion of a project, we must provide our services while communicating with other design professionals on the team, regulatory agencies, and construction companies.

OUR GEOTECHNICAL SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Subsurface Exploration

  • Field and Laboratory Testing

  • Geotechnical Design Criteria

  • Site Improvement Recommendations

  • Feasibility Studies

  • Landslide Evaluation and Mitigation

  • Slope Stability Analysis

  • Expansive Soils Studies

  • Pavement Recommendations

  • Retaining Wall Design

  • Engineered Fill Observation and Testing

  • Keyway/Buttress and Subdrain Construction Observation

  • Grading Specifications and Drainage Recommendations

  • Fault and Seismic Evaluations

  • Peer Review

  • Geotechnical Expert Witness/Forensic Evaluations

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Environmental

Our staff has extensive experience in performing all aspects of environmental site assessments, site characterizations, and remediation plans in conformance with ASTM Standards. We have performed Phase I and Phase II Assessments on commercial, industrial, and residential properties throughout California.


Our work includes conducting site reconnaissances, evaluating historical research, reviewing regulatory agency records and government databases, interpreting aerial photographs, historic topographic maps, sampling soil and groundwater, interpreting laboratory data, and preparing final reports that include recommendations for remediation. Our staff has authored numerous Closure Reports, Work Plans, and Health and Safety Plans for regulatory agency submittal.

PHASE I ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENTS

Our environmental staff specializes in performing Phase I Environmental Site Assessments in conformance with ASTM Standard E1527. Phase I Environmental Site Assessments are conducted to identify recognized environmental conditions in connection with a property. The term “recognized environmental conditions” means the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release, or a material threat of a release of any hazardous substances or petroleum products into structures on the property or into the ground, groundwater, or surface water of the property.

ENVIRONMENTAL AUDITS

We have conducted Site Closure Environmental Audits for properties in Northern California. Services performed include an initial site reconnaissance to identify areas of potential environmental concern; soil and groundwater sampling and analysis; and preparation of a Site Closure Environmental Audit report.

PHASE II ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENTS

We have conducted numerous Phase II Environmental Site Assessments on properties located throughout Northern California. Phase II studies have been performed to determine the presence or absence of soil and groundwater contamination at a property after a recognized environmental condition has been identified during the course of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. Our staff at KC Engineering has experience identifying and defining petroleum hydrocarbon, solvents, agricultural chemicals, and metals-based contamination plumes in both the soil and groundwater.

SOIL REMEDIATION

Following the identification and delineation of contamination plumes, our staff has coordinated and overseen soil remediation activities including remediation by excavation and in-situ bioremediation. Regulatory Agency Case Closure. Our staff has authored several Closure Reports for regulatory agency submittal following successful remediation of contaminated properties. Our experienced staff also authors Closure Reports for underground storage tank removal activities.

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Engineering Geology

KC Engineering Company geologic services draw from extensive experience with complex geologic conditions. This has proven invaluable in evaluating the engineering and structural geology of a site and determining the potential impacts of project layout, site grading, and structure foundation design.


Northern California’s complex geologic conditions make it imperative that geologic factors be considered on any engineering project. While foundations and structures are often located in topographically diverse areas, sites located in bedrock can’t always be adequately characterized using conventional geotechnical methods alone. This is especially true in the complex bedrock geology in the Coastal Mountain Ranges where the success of engineering projects is heavily dependent upon accurately assessing geologic conditions.

The Alquist-Priolo Earthquake Fault Zoning Act, adopted and enforced by state and local agencies, requires that sites that are located within a known active or potentially active fault zone are investigated for surface rupture hazards. KC Engineering can perform a fault investigation which is conducted to identify the presence and activity level of an earthquake fault and its potential impact to site development. If an active fault is found through a site, appropriate building setbacks are established.

These services generally require coordination with the local jurisdictions, and their peer reviewers, to ensure that adequate site characterization is performed. Ultimately, the fault investigation report is submitted to the California Geological Survey for review and incorporation into the State’s mapping program.

OUR SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Geologic reconnaissance and mapping

  • Fault investigations

  • Exploratory borings and trenches

  • Aerial photograph review and interpretation

  • Rock slope stability, landslides and rockfall hazards

  • Rock rippability studies

  • Grading observation

  • Hydrogeology

  • Peer review for public and private agencies

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Materials Testing & Special Inspection

Quality control and quality assurance in construction is a major concern to owners and project participants. Systematic verification and testing of construction materials is the best way that the architect and structural engineer can be assured that the materials and methods being used by the contractor are of the quality specified in the project documents and the applicable building codes.


Since 1978, Materials Testing, Inc. and its subsidiary KC Engineering Company’s full service laboratories have provided complete testing and inspection services, for all phases and materials used in the construction industry, for several thousand projects in the Northern California and Southern Oregon area. These services are conducted in the laboratory, in the fabricating plant, and/or at the construction site.

On larger projects, we can provide an on-site laboratory to minimize sample disturbance during transport and to expedite the required testing. Our experienced certified technicians address field-related issues by close coordination and communication with the project design team using common sense and practical approaches to develop timely, cost-effective solutions.

We maintain soils, concrete and aggregate testing equipment to service the testing needs required by the individual project specifications. Our equipment is calibrated and maintained by an independent agency.

Our Redding laboratory has been accredited by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and conforms to the requirements set forth by ASTM E329. Further, our laboratory participates in the Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory (CCRL) Proficiency Sample Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

We also currently participate in the Reference Sampling Program by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), AASHTO materials reference laboratory (AMRL) and the Asphalt Institute. We are licensed by the State of California, Department of Radiological Health to operate nuclear density and moisture testing devices and each of our technical staff is certified in their use. We employ a technical staff certified through state and national agencies such as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), International Code Council (ICC), Caltrans, National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET), the American Concrete Institute (ACI), and the American Welding Society (AWS).

 

SAMPLING AND TESTING SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Soils and Aggregates

  • Asphalt Concrete

  • Portland Cement Concrete

  • Masonry

  • Steel and Rebar

  • Mix Design Review and Verification

OBSERVATION AND TESTING SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Earthwork and Foundations

  • Concrete and Paving

  • Special Inspection

  • Product Certification

  • Floor Moisture Emissions Testing

SPECIAL INSPECTION SERVICES INCLUDE:

  • Concrete

  • Bolts Installed in Concrete

  • Reinforcing Steel/Prestressing Steel Tendons

  • Structural Welding-Welder Certification

  • High-Strength Bolting

  • Shear Wall Nailing

  • Structural Masonry

  • Shotcrete

  • Expansion/Epoxy Anchors

  • Special Grading/Excavation and Filling

  • Pile/Pier Installation

  • Fire Proofing

  • Tieback/Soil Nail Construction

 
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Laboratory Testing

Materials Testing, Inc. and KC Engineering Company’s certified laboratory is also a full service geotechnical soils laboratory to determine the physical and engineering properties of the soil samples retrieved during field investigations. The laboratory is equipped to determine resistance value, shear strength, consolidation characteristics, unconfined compressive strength, maximum density/optimum moisture content and index parameters. The testing is performed in accordance with the latest ASTM, AASHTO, and Caltrans test methods.

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Specialty Services

KC Engineering offers a variety of specialty services, including forensic investigations, peer reviews, and geotechnical monitoring services. Our areas of expertise include, slope and landslide stability analysis, settlement and expansive soils studies, foundation and pavement evaluations, poor drainage and moisture intrusion studies, remedial earthwork and foundation design, and expert witness services.


FORENSIC INVESTIGATIONS

Forensic geotechnical engineering is the investigation of failures with a geotechnical origin, not only from a technical standpoint but also with the possibility of legal proceedings. Although some geotechnical failures such as landslides occur in the absence of any human intervention, most involve changes to the natural ground conditions by human improvements. Problems occur when there is a lack of understanding, investigation and analysis of the natural conditions and the impact of the proposed changes.

Geotechnical challenges in Northern California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area, include landslides, ground settlement, expansive soils, shallow groundwater, liquefaction and other conditions that sometimes result in post-development problems. Our professionals and trained staff have over 50 years of combined experience in analyzing these problems and finding practical repair alternatives. When disagreements arise between project owners and the design and construction team, we are often asked to provide expert witness testimony or other service associated with the resolution process.

AREAS OF EXPERTISE:

  • Slope and landslide stability analysis

  • Settlement and expansive soils studies

  • Foundation and pavement evaluations

  • Poor drainage and moisture intrusion studies

  • Remedial earthwork and foundation design

  • Expert witness services

PEER REVIEWS

With the ever continuing issues of tight budgets in City and County offices and the lack of onsite staff with geotechnical and geologic expertise, many municipalities rely on third-party consultants to provide review services both during planning and construction of projects. KC Engineering Company’s extensive experience allow us to provide efficient and professional service to planning and building departments to ensure that submittals are in conformance with local ordinances and geotechnical/geologic standards of practice.

GEOTECHNICAL MONITORING SERVICES

Our firm has a Slope Indicator Company vertical inclinometer system with capabilities to monitor up to 200 feet. The applications for a vertical inclinometer include:

  • Monitoring slopes and landslides to detect zones of movement and establish whether movement is constant, accelerating, or responding to remedial measures.

  • Monitoring retaining walls and sheet piles to check that deflections are within design limits, that struts and anchors are performing as expected, and that adjacent structures and underground utilities are not affected by ground movements.

  • Monitoring dams, dam abutments, and upstream slopes for movement during and after impoundment.

Our firm also performs floor level surveys using a single-person manometer (commonly known as water level survey). These surveys are invaluable during forensic investigations of distressed structures. They aid in determining areas of settlement and heave, poor drainage, landsliding, and floor flatness. The surveys can even be performed on a continuing basis to establish whether movement is constant, slowing or accelerating. The readings are obtained to an accuracy of one-sixteenth of an inch and do not have the limitations of line-of-sight that conventional surveying methods have.