Helical piles have commonly been used in New England for about 25 years. I know
this because I was the sales manager for the first helical distributor in New England
back in 1991. In 1991, if you asked an engineer if he or she would consider using
helical piles, you would likely hear him or her say…well I would like to see them used
on a few projects first, or…I don’t know much about them. As years went by, more
and more engineers saw the usefulness and the quality that helical piles possessed.
There were a few holdouts that would never specify helical piles. Well, now I am happy
to report that virtually all engineers are specifying them regularly. Unfortunately,
more and more contractors have been able to purchase helical pile materials and
install them without having much, if any experience…sometimes with not so good results.
Just a word…
Quality is defined as a peculiar and essential character; or degree of excellence.
When we build something, we all want the best quality materials we can afford. How
about quality workmanship? Well sometimes that doesn’t seem to be that important.
Most owners of a construction project are not involved in all aspects of the project. As
long as the job comes in on time, and on or under budget, they are happy. They may
not be so happy if down the road they have a pile failure or settlement issues. That is
why engineers write specifications with experience requirements, and they should be
enforced. Just because a contractor is involved with a project with helical piles, and he
can somehow get certified overnight by a distributor that is only interested in making a
sale any way he can, doesn’t mean it should be allowed. As representatives for the owners
of a construction project, we should be looking out for the owner’s best interest as well as
our own. Stressing experience qualifications, such as minimum number of similar projects
successfully performed, certification (more than just a few days old), and references should
be a must.
Matt Stacy, President
Solid Earth Technologies, Inc. will supply Helical Pile design assistance upon request.