Q: What is an expert witness?
A: An expert witness or professional witness is a witness who, by virtue of education, training, skill, or experience, is believed to have knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon the witness’s specialized opinion about an evidence or fact issue within the scope of their expertise, referred to as the expert opinion.
Q: What is a construction defect?
A: A construction defect can arise from a multiplicity of factors, such as workmanship or inferior materials. Common examples of housing and construction defects are water leakage from windows, faulty exterior envelope systems in a commercial or a residential home. A construction defect is a condition in your home or building that reduces the life expectancy of one or many different building components. Some defects are obvious such as water intrusion, but many are less obvious and do not become apparent until years after the home was built. A construction defect is any building imperfection or design fault that reduces the value of the building.
Q: What are some of the causes of construction defects?
A: Construction defects can arise from a combination of factors, including:
• Poor workmanship
• Window leaks
• Negligent construction
• Defective building materials
• Window product defects
Q: What are some of the most frequent types of construction defects?
A: The most common types of defects involved in litigation include:
• Dry rot
• Roof leaks
• Wall leaks
• Stucco issues (click here for Stucco Testing Reports)
• Window leaks
• Balcony leaks
• Framing issues
• Water intrusion
• Faulty site drainage
• Waterproofing below and above grade
• Structural failure causing stucco cracks
• Structural failure causing drywall cracks
• Foundation cracks causing finish floor cracks
Q: How is a construction defect proven in court?
A: Many defects are obvious and are called “patent”. Other construction defects are not visible; these defects are called “latent”. Construction defect claims often rely on the testimony of experts who specialize in specific areas of construction. Most experts need to investigate the defect by means of onsite investigations. For example a stucco consultant “expert witness” can perform a stucco crack investigation and work with a civil or structural engineer expert to determine the primary cause of the stucco crack. At RCG, our experts will evaluate the cause and make repair recommendations for each claim. This report will then go directly to the cost estimator.
Q: How are window defects proven in court?
A: RCG investigates window product or installation failures by window testing methods to determine the correct contributing factors to window product leaks. Many times the window is not the problem and an RCG window expert can identify the primary source of water intrusion and make the appropriate repairs. Why is this important? We, as window experts, do not want to remove stucco and patch your building if it’s not an installation issue. RCG’s approach is to determine the primary water intrusion source and make the appropriate repairs. We use calibrated spray racks per ASTM “American Society of Testing Materials” guidelines which replicate the faulty product or installation leak and which will hold up in any mediation or trial.
Q: What kind of damages can be recovered?
A: This depends on the circumstances of each issue as it pertains to your home. For example a roof “construction defect” will be investigated by a roofing expert who determines the result in damages. Most insurance companies need to have a result in damage to occur prior to any settlement. A brief description of “Result in Damage” is the result of one contractor’s work that has caused damage to another contractor’s work or product.
Q: Who pays for the damages?
A: Typically the general contractor will have language in their contracts that the subcontractor additionally insures the general contractor for all claims joint and several. In addition, each subcontractor’s insurance company will be responsible for paying the damages. If parties have joint liability, then they are each liable up to the full amount of the relevant damages.
Q: Who is responsible for construction defects?
A: There may be several responsible parties, but generally the responsibility will lay with the general contractors, developers, and the subcontractors of residential and commercial structures. If defective materials are used, the subcontractor usually is at fault. The manufacturers of the building components as well as architects, designers and other involved parties may also be defendants in litigation.
CLICK HERE to review TECHNIQUES and COMMENTS,
a technical newsletter. Subscribe today.
Copyright © 2010 Robert R. Tellez. All rights reserved.