Concrete Structures: Vincent Chu Answers

If on-site slump test fails, should engineers allow the contractor to continue the concreting works?

This is a very classical question raised by many graduate engineers.

There are two schools of thought on this issue

The first school of thought

is rather straightforward: the contractor fails to comply with contractual requirements and therefore as per G. C. C. Clause 54 (2)(c) [Clause nos will vary depending upon country/organization] the engineer could order suspension of the Works.

Under the conditions of G. C. C. Clause 54(2)(a) – (d), the contractor is not entitled to any claims of cost which is the main concern for most engineers. This is the contractual power given to the Engineer in case of any failure in tests required by the contract, even though some engineers argue that slump tests are not as important as other tests like compression test.

The second school of thought

is to let the contractor to continue their concreting works and later on request the contractor to prove that the finished works comply with other contractual requirements e.g. compression test.

This is based upon the belief that workability is mainly required to achieve design concrete compression strength. In case the compression test also fails, the contractor should demolish and reconstruct the works accordingly.

In fact, this is a rather passive way of treating construction works and is not recommended because of the following reasons:

(i) Workability of freshly placed concrete is related not only to strength but also to durability of concrete. Even if the future compression test passes, failing in slump test indicates that it may have adverse impact to durability of completed concrete structures.

(ii) In case the compression test fails, the contractor has to deploy extra time and resources to remove the work and reconstruct them once again and this slows down the progress of works significantly. Hence, in view of such likely probability of occurrence, why shouldn’t the Engineer exercise his power to stop the contractor and save these extra time and cost?

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