Checklist Reports, Engineering Judgment And The Texas Board Of Professional Engineers

First, what is a checklist report?

Inspection reports are, to one degree or another, checklist reports. If a report includes checkboxes, it is clearly a checklist report. Many checklist reports also include text that provides information that is beyond what is provided by checkboxes.

TREC and required report forms

The standard report required by TREC allows both checkboxes and descriptive text.

Texas Board of Professional Engineers (TBPE) and checklist reports

The TBPE does not consider checklist reports to be suitable for foundation performance evaluations. Despite the fact that the TBPE has made it clear that checklist foundation performance evaluations are not acceptable, they are not as uncommon as you might think. For instance, if an engineer recommends repair if the foundation is out-of-level by some arbitrary amount (and the amount is always arbitrary), I consider it to be a checklist report. 

Checklist reports are looked down upon, in my opinion, because they are not conducive to making reasoned judgments. Engineering judgments always subjective to one degree or another. They require years of experience and what is obvious is not always clear to other engineers.

Consider this example

Let’s say a slab-on-ground foundation is 3.01 inches out of level and exhibits a deflection ratio of 1.2/360. Let’s stipulate further that both numbers are excessive. Based on the stipulations, would you recommend foundation repair?

What if we add some more stipulations: the foundation has never been underpinned, the client says all he cares about is that the house does not collapse on top of him, there has never been any cracks in the drywall or the brick veneer, and all the doors open, close and latch. Now would you recommend foundation repair?


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