Unbiased, accurate laboratory results can improve quality, avoid disputes, and save you time and money. Most state and federal projects require technician and laboratory certification. In the private sector, a number of contract requirements, ACI codes, and specifications require that testing agencies meet ASTM E 329, "Standard Practice for Use in the Evaluation of Testing and Inspection Agencies as Used in Construction."
Buying testing equipment is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to setting up a laboratory. It is also important to have the right people trained in the right procedures. This is not just a matter of knowing how to perform tests, but understanding the hows and whys of the tests and what the results mean.
Accreditation is a formal recognition that a laboratory is competent to carry out specific tests or calibrations or types of tests or calibrations. Accreditation signifies a laboratory's credibility. There are numerous organizations that will provide accreditation for laboratories of all ranges.
Which tests an individual laboratory will carry out depends on what ends the lab is trying to achieve. In many cases it is easier and more cost effective to subcontract out rather than purchase equipment necessary for tests. If you do purchase your own lab equipment, it must be maintained and calibrated periodically. Other costs will include materials, lab records and reports, record keeping, maintaining quality systems, training, annual certification fees and repair costs.