Day: September 13, 2022

Development-Wide Construction Defects Evaluation

Basic Fact Pattern
  • Development of 250 units, including a clubhouse building, townhomes, and single family residences.
  • Alleged construction defects in the exterior claddings resulting in systemic moisture intrusion and underlying structural damage.
  • Exterior claddings consisted of combinations of vinyl siding, hardcoat stucco, and adhered stone veneer.
  • Alleged damages included complete re-cladding of all buildings.
Investigative Sciences Employed
  • All 250 buildings were visually inspected.
  • Moisture probe tests were performed on a representative sampling of buildings of each type.
  • Destructive test cuts were performed and a separate representative sampling of buildings of each type.
  • Detailed analyses of opposing expert investigational methods were performed.
  • Comprehensive code analysis was performed across the three building codes represented across the timeframe of construction for the differing phases of the development.
Determinations Made
  • Actual moisture intrusion was minimal, localized, isolated, and associated with discrete, non-systemic causes.
  • Complete exterior re-cladding was not required.
  • A remedial action plan was developed, along with a cost to perform the repairs.
  • Litigation support services were also provided throughout alternative dispute resolution.
Involved Experts: 

Custom Home Development-Wide Construction Defects Evaluation

Basic Fact Pattern
  • Development of multi-million dollar custom homes, including six homeowners all suing their builder and all of his subcontractors.
  • Alleged construction defect in the varying exterior claddings resulting in systemic moisture intrusion and widespread underlying structural damage.
  • Alleged violation of building codes and consumer protection (fraud) statutes.
  • Exterior claddings included six differing combinations of hardcoat stucco, EIFS, wood trim, composite trim, brick veneer, adhered stone veneer, and custom windows.
  • Alleged damaged included complete re-cladding of all six residences, along with treble damage associated with consumer protection.
  • Minimal documentation was available from the builder, more than one decade after construction was completed.
  • First opposing expert passed away, prior to completing his work, causing a second expert to be engaged, who offered slightly differing opinions.
Investigative Actions Taken
  • Each residence was inspected inside and out, and destructively tested for moisture intrusion and associated underlying damage.
  • Interior thermal imaging and temperature and humidity surveys were conducted.
  • Re-cladding of four residences was observed.
  • Multiple code analyses were performed across the time periods from the first home to the last one.
  • Each home was 3D modeled, with material take-offs performed for individual wall panel.
  • The varying subcontractor structures for each home were reconstructed from the documentation produced by others in the matter.
  • Detailed causation and code analysis tied each individual wall panel requiring remediation back to the cause(s) of the damage and the specific subcontractors responsible for the same.
  • Extensive comparative analysis between the two plaintiff’s expert’s opinions, including completion of the training previously performed by the deceased one.
Determinations Made
  • Construction defects and code violations were variable across the six homes, but none were systemic and widespread.
  • Some interior damage was associated with maintenance, use, and building operation, rather than moisture intrusion through the exterior claddings.
  • Remediation of all wall panels on all sides of all homes was not required.
  • A customized scope of remediation was determined for each home, along with the total costs associated with performing the same.
  • Diagrams capable of allowing a lay audience to understand both causation and damage distributions were created for each side of each home.
  • All but two subcontractors were identified, with damages distributions determined for each.
Involved Experts: 

Structural A-Frame Rack Failure on a Hauling Flatbed Tractor Trailer

Basic Fact Pattern
  • During transportation of marble and granite stone slabs, a structural failure occurred.
  • The structural failure caused a complete loss of the marble and granite slabs, along with property damage associated with the spilled debris.
  • Alleged improper loading, securement, and/or transportation of the stone slabs.
Investigative Actions Taken
  • Photos of the accident scene were analyzed, along with the geometric configuration of the actual accident location and the speed and direction of travel of the vehicle at the time of the incident.
  • The collected debris from the stone slabs were inspected and analyzed for fracture patterns.
  • The A-frames were reconstructed from the debris by matching the structural weld failures.
  • The ruptures in the tie-downs were also matched back to the accident scene photos to determine the original configurations of the A-frames and the securements utilized at the time of the accident.
Determinations Made
  • The securement and transportation methods utilized were not the cause of the structural failure.
  • The A-frame racks were provided by the material supplier, not the hauler.
  • The A-frame racks lacked adequate design, construction, and maintenance for lateral loads, relying solely on increased securement for stability.
  • The inadequate welds utilized in the A-frame racks design and construction caused the failure, in combination with a lack of adequate inspection and maintenance of the same.
  • The hauler had increased the securement utilized beyond industry requirements, however, this additional redundancy, beyond normal and usual requirements, did not prevent the accident from occurring.

Post-Tree Impact Structural Evaluation

Basic Fact Pattern
  • Large tree strike impact to the roof and stone walls of a historic home.
  • Home reportedly shook during the impact.
  • Tree limbs penetrated the clay tile roofing and the underlying roof structure.
  • The force of the tree strike into the home caused a portion of the trunk to split into two pieces.
  • Cracks and separations were noted throughout the home after the trike strike, including within the mortar joints of the historic stone walls.
Investigative Steps Taken
  • Photos of the tree on the home, as taken prior to the tree removal, were reviewed.
  • Comprehensive inspection of the home, including within the areas broken open by the tree impact, was conducted.
  • Doors and windows were operated throughout the home, along with measurements capable of detecting overall building movement.
  • All cracks, both interior and exterior, were photographed and mapped throughout the home.
  • Cracks were separated via in-field evidence into groupings of recent cracks and historic cracks.
  • Recent cracks were comparatively analyzed against the force load path from the tree strike locations to the ground.
Determinations Made
  • Structural roof members requiring repair were identified.
  • Wall elements with recent cracks consistent with the transfer of force through the structure from the tree strike were identified.
  • The cause(s) of the remaining cracks were also identified.
  • The overall structure had not experienced any global permanent movement in response to the tree impact force.
  • A scope of repairs was developed in accordance with applicable code requirements.
Involved Experts: