who we are

Underhill Engineering, LLC (Underhill) is a geotechnical engineering firm and SWaM-certified Micro Business serving clients throughout Virginia. Located in Charlottesville, Underhill draws on more than 30 years of Professional Engineer experience in the Construction Industry providing services for both Public and Private clients. Underhill provides geotechnical engineering, geothermal energy solutions, and geotechnical-related construction phase services.

The firm's focus is assisting clients reduce risks related to the underground, allowing clients to meet scheduling, budget and performance goals, through a collaborative / partnership environment.




Geotechnical Engineering

Geothermal Solutions

Geoconstruction Services

About Underhill Engineering

“This is life!”  I heard it but didn’t comprehend, so I asked my friend and guide, Salvator, to repeat what he had just told me.  He said again, “This is life!” He waved his arms around within the open-air restaurant, lit that night by tiny white Christmas tree lights, finally stopping his arms and pointing to Lake Tanganyika.  

Lake Tanganyika, located in the midst of the Great Rift Valley of Africa, the second deepest freshwater lake in the world, and home to a vast assortment of fish as well as crocs and hippos.

But my companion did not stop there, “Chris, you see, the Europeans, the Americans, they are all rush, rush, rush. Everything is in a hurry.  They do not live in the present.  That is not life.  This is life.”  As I squished my toes into the sand beneath our table, heard the crash of the waves against the shore, and smelled the aroma of our grilled fish dinner, I sensed he was right.  I was learning a valuable lesson in this little country of Burundi, one that had been racked by genocide.  Here I would find peace, in a place you would least expect it.  I would see much in my travels, but it is this memory that stands above the others.

As I traveled as an engineer to Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia, I would gain perspective on what I have to offer to my clients.    Yes, 30 years of experience as a Civil Engineer, but it’s more.  It’s that personal connection.  That’s why I founded Underhill Engineering: to help people solve their problems, guiding them through those dark places we know as the underground.  Whether it’s design or construction; geotechnical engineering or geothermal energy; Africa, Haiti, or right here at home in Central Virginia; it’s about opportunities to work together, enjoying the challenges of the journey, breathing in that life, and maybe, just maybe, making a difference in someone else’s life.

Tennyson quote
Photo by mtcurado/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by mtcurado/iStock / Getty Images


The work we do at Underhill Engineering


The work we do at Underhill Engineering

Geo-Professional Engineering Services

Geo-Professional Engineering is the application of the sciences of soil and rock mechanics, engineering geology and other related disciplines to civil engineering design and construction, and to the preservation and enhancement of the environment.

Underhill is a Virginia SWaM-certified Micro Business.  Our services include geotechnical engineering, dam engineering, geothermal energy solutions, and geoconstruction services.  

Underhill assists clients reduce risks related to the underground; helping our clients meet schedule, budget, and performance goals through a collaborative approach.

Our clients include Municipalities, Contractors, Owners, Developers, and AE Firms.  Underhill's experience includes foundations, tunnels, transportation, water resource, water and wastewater distribution and treatment, housing, industrial, and commercial projects.  We undertake projects of all sizes.


Geotechnical Services

Photo by erdre/iStock / Getty Images

Shallow Rock, Groundwater Seepage, Sinkholes, Buried Debris, Expansive or Compressible Clays.  These are the conditions that keep Owners and the Design Team up at night, worrying whether any of these might be encountered during development, impacting schedule and/or budget.  This is where Underhill can help.

Before any test boring is drilled, Underhill works with you to develop the optimum scope to evaluate your site.  This includes a thorough review of the geology to assist in the subsurface exploration program - typically borings or test pits, sometimes combined with geophysical techniques.  Field tests are complemented with laboratory tests, the data analyzed, and design recommendations presented. 

With this approach, Underhill provides the following benefits:

  • Clearly-Presented Results.  Cost impacts are identified so that quantity estimates can be determined for appropriate budgets during the project planning.   
  • The Design Best-Suited for the Field Conditions.  An emphasis on constructability to meet the project budget and schedule demands.
  • Innovative Techniques Built on 30+ Years Experience. Developing foundation, retaining wall, and other earth systems that are not only efficient but provide long-term performance.
  • Sustainable Solutions.  Using recyclable materials and addressing low-impact development requirements provide the assistance needed to minimize site impacts.


Geothermal Services

With fluctuations in fuel costs, ground-source heat pumps offer an attractive solution for heating and cooling.  With their increased efficiency, these systems provide lower energy consumption than conventional systems, providing means for owners to meet their long-term energy needs.

Knowing the geology and the thermal properties in the ground are key factors when considering ground-source heat pump systems.  Underhill’s team tests the earth’s undisturbed temperature, thermal conductivity, and thermal diffusivity, allowing the heat pump design’s efficiency to be maximized.  This is especially important for larger projects where an excessive number of geothermal wells can be costly.  Specifically, Underhill’s Geothermal Services offer the following benefits:

  • Reduced Risks.  Underhill's up-front review of the geologic conditions provides valuable insight to the project planning, help our clients reduce risks by avoiding problematic areas such as those prone to sinkholes.  This is of particular value during the preliminary project planning to assist in determining whether geothermal is right for the project.
  • Optimized Performance.  Underhill's geologic review and site reconnaissance complement our testing program to identify more efficient location on site for the well field, particularly valuable on larger sites.
  • Optimized Installation.  Test holes are installed with the ability to be incorporated into the final well field.  This is valuable not only for the project planning but in particular for design-build projects, where construction sequencing is of paramount importance.
  • A Value-Oriented Project.  With the site conditions and thermal properties characterized up front, the owner can attain more competitive prices from contractors submitting on geothermal projects.



Contractors in today’s economy need to be competitive to be successful.  Underhill understands this and provides GeoConstruction services to help contractors reduce quantities for a competitive edge.  Some examples of these GeoConstruction services include:

  • Sustainable Projects.  Maximizing the re-use of on-site soils and rock, reliance on imports can be reduced, resulting in lower costs.  
  • Reduction of the Waste Stream.  Using recycled materials such as glass, concrete, rubber, etc. for re-use in construction lowers export costs.
  • Maximizing Development Footprints.   Earth retaining designs such as reinforced walls and slopes, and specialized tieback and soil nail systems optimize the site development area.
  • On-Track Projects.  Development of site mitigation techniques such as groundwater control and stabilization of subgrades helps keep the project on track, especially important for meeting operational goals.
  • Cost-Effective Rehabilitation.  Designing high capacity foundations, which require less space and materials, often allows existing structures to remain intact, of particular value for remodeling and rehabilitation projects.

Underhill provides these GeoConstruction services through our service agreements with contractors and developers, where Underhill is engaged on individual projects through task orders.  Our clients value this approach since it allows for prompt service, especially valuable for projects requiring emergency responses.






Chris Webster, PE, Principal

Our office is located at:

327 W. Main Street, STE 2

Charlottesville VA 22903-5551

434 771 0234




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