Construction Underpinning Failure Damage Evaluation

Basic Fact Pattern
  • Catastrophic damage to a building adjacent to a demolition and new construction site.
  • The adjacent building suffered a severe underpinning failure after the demo was completed and the construction was in progress.
  • The local municipality demolished the adjacent building after condemning it.
  • The insured underpinning contractor had allegedly performed improper excavation and underpinning, including a lack of dewatering, leading to the underpinning failure.
  • There were numerous conflicting elements of testimony and documentation amongst the multiple other involved parties warranting further investigation.
Investigative Steps Taken
  • Severely damaged building was inspected, along with the adjacent construction site.
  • Extensive testimony and documentation was performed, in order to produce a timeline of verifiable facts.
  • Drawings and geotechnical information were analyzed for appropriateness of the underpinning design.
  • On-site photos and daily construction logs were analyzed to determine the work actually performed in the field and the timing of the same.
  • Extensive comparative analysis was performed to determine the truth of the matter.
Determinations Made
  • The engineer responsible for the design and inspection of the underpinning was practicing engineering outside of his technical competence.
  • Both the structural and geotechnical design of the underpinning were insufficient for its intended purpose.
  • The in-field direction provided by the engineer to the underpinning subcontractor directly led to the catastrophic underpinning failure.
  • The engineer also falsified records submitted to the municipality, resulting in reporting to the local engineering board for disciplinary action.
Involved Experts: 

more to read