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Construction Program Management and Inspection Guide

Appendix F: Examples of Reporting Practices

The following items were extracted from actual construction inspection reports. Included with them are comments regarding the appropriateness and significance of each of these items. The included items represent a variety of topics that could be covered in construction inspection reports. Although they relate to specific items, the treatment of these items could be applicable to other items as well.

Inspection Coverage

Report Item Comments
The primary purpose of this stage inspection was to determine the adequacy of the State's construction inspection processes for bituminous pavement. This statement covers the type of inspection, phase of work, and how the review will be focused. It gives the reader an idea of what to expect.
Scope of inspection: review traffic control and placement of asphalt concrete pavement. This is a brief way of covering the purpose statement. The type of review phase (e.g., initial, inspection-in-depth (IID), etc.) should be identified.
The purpose of this inspection was to get information for the bridge deck quality construction. At the same time, a joint inspection of concrete bridge deck placement was conducted with the State's contract administration staff. In addition to providing the type of information in the above statements, this example demonstrates conservation of resources by performing a dual-purpose review. It also clarifies the State's role in the review.
With the best intentions, a major phase (IID) of concrete paving operations was scheduled to be performed on this project on July 20, 2002. Just prior to reaching the plant site, a power outage at the plant and a major rain downpour on the grade resulted in the operations being shut down for the day. However, we were provided with a detailed briefing of the plant's operation. (This item was followed with over a full page of text on the review and six pages of photographs.) This is a good explanation of why an intended inspection could not be carried out. It explains what was done in lieu of the originally planned review. The field engineer could have also considered a review of materials test reports, stockpiling operations, materials payment records, or other required project documentation as an alternative. Another aspect that could have been reviewed would have been on the contractor's quality test control results and charts.
This is an experimental project that consists of installing a "Tensar" polymer grid fabric wall. The project was inspected to observe the forming system and the overall appearance of the wall. This report contains an up-front identification of a special feature of the project as well as the purpose of the inspection.

Progress and Quality of Work

Report Item Comments
Time Elapsed: 121 percent
Progress of Work: Unsatisfactory
It is undesirable to get report heading data such as this without an explanation and a projection of future progress or actions to be taken. Expansion of statistical data is encouraged.
At the time of this inspection, the asphalt concrete leveling work was substantially completed and the contractor was just beginning the paving of the base lift, starting at the westerly end of the project. This example of project status presents a meaningful picture of the ongoing major work on the project at the time of inspection.
The contractor hopes to start paving operations the first week in August. Future scheduling is appropriate for reporting. Is this ahead of or behind schedule?
Currently the contractor is behind schedule but he has developed an accelerated schedule that shows he may complete the work on time. Information on revised scheduling is also of interest.
It was clear that the contractor on this project has done everything he could to maintain his construction schedule. However, the nature of the somewhat abnormal rains this summer combined with the volcanic silt in this area has slowed his progress. It is important to note that the contractor did work every time that soil conditions allowed. This comment is not as speculative as the last one. It is apparent that some support for the conclusion probably exists in addition to the general statements here. The level of support here is fully acceptable. It is helpful if the information source can be identified (e.g., project engineer, diaries, etc.).
The contract time was extended 42 days to completion time of 252 days. The contractor used 253 days and is being charged one day of liquidated damages. This is a factual report of contract time charges, but it really adds very little value to the report without further explanation. Also, it does not discuss justification for the 42-day extension or whether it was agreed to by FHWA.
For a project of this magnitude, it appeared that very little construction activity was occurring at the time of the inspection. Construction weather and soil conditions were ideal. (Note: time = 15 percent, work = 3 percent) The inspecting engineer should add sufficient information to clarify the reasons why no construction has taken place, his/her reaction to these reasons, and a remark resolving the issue of lack of progress.
Although the percentage of work completed (16 percent) lags the percentage of time elapsed (50 percent), it is anticipated that the contractor will complete this project on time. Once the paving operations commence, the percentage of work completed will accelerate. A logical explanation has been included for the slow progress to avoid creating alarm on the part of the reader.
The completed work was found satisfactory except that several runs of guardrail needed better line and grade and three turnouts did not have terminal end sections installed on the guardrail. The State's traffic section was requested to review this situation. The use of exception statements permits a general statement of acceptability to be made without glossing over minor items that are not fully satisfactory.
A brief windshield review was made of the completed work and it appeared satisfactory. The FHWA engineer properly described a brief inspection. These type of cursory reviews are discouraged in lieu of more detailed inspections.
The project has been built in general conformance with the plans and specifications and is considered satisfactory for acceptance. There may be some differences in opinion as to what is substantial conformance or reasonably close conformance. However, "general conformance" seems much more nebulous and leaves considerable doubt as to the quality of the work. An effort should be made to stick to commonly accepted terms. When this is not possible, a more detailed explanation is in order.

Materials and Quality Control

Report Item Comments
The specified quality has been obtained on all materials incorporated into the project to date. This statement is all-inclusive and does not reflect any particular effort by the field engineer to verify it. It would be appropriate to include the source and basis for this statement.
The compaction testing was accomplished with a nuclear gauge, and all testing for the day's laydown was found to have passed the required 92 percent density. The density ranged from 92.2 percent to 94.0 percent. The reporting of specific data is helpful in supporting quality evaluations. This comment should include the type of nuclear gauge and test method followed.
The stockpiling of materials was situated such that contamination or segregation was minimized. Comments such as this reinforce the validity of test results.
M. Gardner indicated that the burner was not functioning properly for about 3 hours in the afternoon and that mix was being delivered to the street at approximately 115-118 °C (240-245 °F). The plant was run at approximately 146 °C (295 °F) thereafter. Comments received verbally without confirmation should be identified as such.
A quality level (QL) analysis was performed on the aphalt concrete pavement Class B material, particularly the #10 and #200 sieves and asphalt content. The QLs were 82, 100, and 100 respectively. The QL for the #10 sieve was less than the desirable 90. The material tests showed a wide variability and one test to be out of specifications, but within tolerance limits. It is meaningful to note that QL analysis is being made. Specific findings are stated together with a further explanation of the reason for the low quality level. It further indicates specification compliance.
The traffic has been moved to the new lane, and the old pavement has been milled and stockpiled for future recycling into the asphalt-treated base. The recycled asphalt appears uniformly graded and has no noticeable contamination. Observations of visual acceptability add to the value of the inspection report.
Approximately 457 m (1,500 ft) of the base lift were rejected, removed by the contractor, and replaced at his expense. I inspected the material before it was removed from the road and concur with the State's action. The asphalt did not coat the aggregates well. It is felt that possibly the wrong asphalt had been delivered to the project. Here the field engineer recorded a problem and corrective action. In addition, the engineer chose to document FHWA support of the State's action and speculate on the cause of the problem.
Aggregate moisture samples had not been taken for approximately 5 days; moisture content was being estimated for water/cement ratio calculation. Adverse findings should be supported with specifics. Action that FHWA will be taking as a result of improper testing procedures should be noted and documented.


Report Item Comments
The pavement looks and rides good. The emulsion asphalt seal, using a slow setting emulsion, is being placed at between approximately 0.45-0.57 l per 0.84 m2 (0.12-0.15 gal per yd2) The uphill lanes were shot slightly lighter. The emulsion appears to penetrate into the pavement well and should not affect the skid qualities of the pavement. It appears this pavement could absorb more emulsion if that were necessary. Opinions by the field engineer are particularly appropriate in discussing workmanship. Details of materials design can be of value in making future post-construction evaluations of the quality of work.
Representatives from the city were present at the final inspection and indicated their pleasure with the way the project turned out. When possible, it is desirable to include the opinions of others as well.
Curbing exists along some of the northerly part of the project. The typical section calls for the pavement to be tapered at these locations to match the existing curbing. Very little tapering was done, and consequently abrupt edges exist along the curb-pavement match joint. The abrupt edges should be corrected. This comment explains why the work is unsatisfactory. The fact that the work is being redone is also of value in the report.
It was found that many of the compartmentalized neoprene joint installations were at the surface of the pavement slab rather than embedded 3.175 mm (1/8 in) according to the plan. This is not acceptable because of the tire wear on the joint and possible removal of the compartmentalized joint by the traffic. Where possible, it is also desirable to include reasons other than specifications for making unsatisfactory findings. Providing this information to the inspector and contractor may also be helpful in getting future compliance.

Construction Operations and Features

Report Item Comments
The project engineer stated that there were no problems with the contractor's construction methods. We value the observations of the project engineer to help us report the things we have not seen, but when a statement such as this is included without expansion it raises doubt as to whether or not the area engineer ever got out of the project office. The area engineer needs to address specific operations. It is possible that the area engineer visited the project after the construction activity was completed. In those cases he should look at project documents such as diaries for corroboration of the project engineer's statements.
The latex-modified deck overlay was placed on the northbound lanes of Fords Bridge on July 20, 2002, with excellent results. The project manager indicated that the work went very smoothly. This comment combines personal evaluation with the project engineer's report of what could not be observed personally. See above.
Present plans are to place concrete on Thursday and Friday of this week. The pours are scheduled to begin during the early hours of the morning (3 a.m. to 4 a.m.) and be completed before the hotter weather of the day. Comments on future operations may be useful in scheduling additional reviews or in gaining assurance of the probable acceptability of the operations.
The contractor demonstrated a device called a scabbler that is a lightweight mechanical hammer that turns when it hits the concrete surface. The impact of the hammer can be regulated from light to heavy within the operating range of the equipment. This device leaves a very nice surface on which to place the overlay and does not appear to damage the deck. Reports on unusual features are of particular interest. The description of activities as well as the results of using the unusual feature is of additional value.
The contractor's rolling equipment consisted of one pneumatic breakdown roller immediately behind the paver followed by a vibratory steel wheel roller. The inspectors were continually maintaining temperature checks on the material, and found it to fluctuate between 121 and 135 °C (250 and 275 °F), which is well above the minimum 82 °C (180 °F) for compaction. Generally there were three passes of the pneumatic and two passes of the steel-wheel roller, which brought the densities into the 92.2 percent to 94.4 percent compaction area, which is within specifications. The reporting of State as well as contractor activities provides assurance of adequate State supervision. Specification citations are of particular value to readers who encounter projects in more than one State.
There was some evidence of erosion control used. Items noted were seeded slopes, straw bales, settlement areas, and silt screens. An observant inspection engineer may be able to report on compliance with contract provisions even when the operation is not in progress during the inspection and will not be evident in the completed work.

Project Records

Report Item Comments
Compaction of this project has not been a problem in the past, and therefore the compaction tests were not reviewed during this inspection. Risk management frequently means that not all items can be checked. Support for these judgment calls is desirable. However, the privilege of not looking should not be abused.
Project records indicate that all materials incorporated into the work are in reasonably close conformance with the specification requirements. It is highly improbable that an area engineer examined all project records. The basis for making broad-brush statements should be reported.
Material test reports were not reviewed. However, the project supervisor indicated that specification materials were being incorporated into the work and good densities were being obtained. Here, verbal reporting is accurately reported. This is acceptable provided that occasional checks are made.
A review of the project records indicates compaction testing frequencies well above the specification requirements. Less than 10 percent of the tests indicated failing results. All failing areas were reworked and retested until specified levels were attained. In this example, the acceptability of test results is quantified along with a notation of corrective action.
Compaction and gradation tests were examined and found to be adequate in frequency and within specifications. This report identified the records reviewed and type of checks made. However, it does not indicate what tests were spot-checked or if all tests were reviewed.
Project diaries were reviewed and found to be current. This comment shows that a specific check of diaries was made.
The asphalt plant, rollers, and paver inspection forms were reviewed and found in order. This comment indicates the specific inspection forms that were reviewed.
Bid Item No. 8, Class E Hot Mix, was reviewed for documentation of pay quantities. The estimate paid for 8,196 tonnes (9,035 tons) of material. The quantity summary had a similar figure posted that was documented by weigh tickets. The weigh tickets were properly signed and receipted. The field engineer has identified the specific item and the type of quantity check made.
Negotiated unit prices were used for all three items. Based on the conversation with the project engineer, the basis for the unit prices was the average bid prices for other projects. However, the project files should be documented as to how the price was selected. Information received verbally should be properly identified. The request for documentation is also properly recorded.
There have been 10 change orders (COs) processed to date on this project. CO numbers 2, 3, and 7 were reviewed in detail. The project files contain adequate justification for making changes on this project. Accuracy in recording what was reviewed avoids creating mistaken impressions that all records were reviewed.
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Updated: 06/27/2017
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000