Ultimately the owner pays for any activity intended to ensure high levels of quality in concrete work. Most authorities recognize that an independent materials engineering laboratory is in a unique position to provide quality control services for construction. Compensation to a commercial testing laboratory must have no relationship to whether the tests and inspection meet the job requirements. Based on the total cost of construction, the expense of hiring a testing laboratory is small. It is also small in comparison with the financial losses in time and materials if unnecessary delays occur or if portions of the project must be rebuilt.

Once you have identified several materials engineering laboratories that appear to have the ability to provide the necessary services, it would be advisable to contact them for specific information. Tell them the general scope of services you will require and invite them to respond with a description of their applicable experiences, qualifications, resumes of key personnel, names of some of their clients, and statement of their ability to provide sufficient personnel and equipment to satisfy the time requirements of the assignment.

The materials engineering laboratory becomes part of the team and should be given a copy of the project schedule. Lab representatives should attend a preconstruction conference explaining the responsibilities of all parties. The nature, method and frequency of reporting should be spelled out in detail with written minutes of such meetings for all parties affected. As the employer you are certainly in the driver's seat. However, if you loosen the reins slightly, you may reap unplanned results. A competent materials engineering laboratory can anticipate potential difficulties and help you avoid them. Periodic reviews with a lab representative may give you valuable information you would otherwise never obtain.