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Construction defect claims require a thorough investigation and having the correct type of expert is critical. Simply having a general contractor who builds homes as an expert is risky. Forensic experts are trained in investigating a defect from all aspects. Understanding what building code the home or building was built under, the types of materials used, and then peeling back layer upon layer of material to understand the way in which a particular component was installed is critical in developing evidence. Below is a list of the typical experts you would run across is a construction defect claim.
A forensic architect is charged with inspecting and testing the entire building envelope, which would include roofs, stucco, drywall, windows and doors, and the interiors. The expert is not only looking for code compliance, but also ensuring the home was built in conformance with the approved plans.
A forensic structural engineer's job is to review the approved structural plans and inspect certain areas of the home to ensure that the plans were followed. They are primarily checking the framing of the home, which includes checking whether shear walls (plywood) are in the right place and installed properly and whether nailing is the right size and spaced properly among other things.
Plumbing and Mechanical
A forensic plumbing and mechanical expert looks at all plumbing and mechanical systems to ensure they were installed according to building codes and in conformance with the approved plans. This includes all the plumbing fixtures, water heaters, tubs and showers. They will also check heating and air-conditioning for code violations and/or installation issues.
An forensic electrical expert will test all the electrical outlets, inspect the breaker panel and ensure the electrical system was installed according to building codes and in compliance with the plans.
A forensic civil engineer is charged with inspecting a number of exterior issues. Their scope will include inspecting drainage around the home as well as any concrete flatwork such as driveways and patios. They will also look a perimeter fences and walls and may touch on soils issues as well.
This expert will investigate soil issues. This includes homes that have excessive settlement or even landslides adjacent to homes. They will look to original rough grading plans and soils reports to help their investigation.
A forensic landscaping expert looks at the plant material used and irrigation issues. Trees planted to close to a structure or hardscape can wreak havoc. They also check for drainage issues as well.
A cost estimator takes the repair recommendations of the experts and puts a number to each repair recommendation. He will usually call local contractors to ensure the repair estimate is accurate. We will then take the cost of repair number, add any out of pocket expenses of the homeowner and add the cost of the investigation, which forms the basis of our demand on the parties.
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