Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Role of Experts in Evaluating Building Defects

When a building fails to perform as it should, we immediately look for answers. Is the problem the result of someone’s failure to assemble it properly? Is the problem an act of nature? Was the proper maintenance of the building not performed as it should have been? The answers often depend upon a number of factors: the age of the effected building component, the exact nature of the problem, the presence or absence of human error, or some combination of all three.

Because buildings are not single products but rather an assembly of individual parts and components often put together by different contractors; and because the materials used often require periodic maintenance to maintain their projected service lives; and because acts of nature often intervene to test the resistance of building components to leaks and decay, it is usually never exactly clear why a particular building defect occurs. And the average person who might sit in judgment one day cannot easily understand, much less unwind, the disputes that arise over these enigmatic, technical and often costly problems.

For these reasons, independent experts are a necessary and valued part of the resolution of construction defect claims. Experts are professionals whose credentials qualify them to analyze the cause of a particular type of construction or design problem, design a solution, and assign responsibility for it. The qualifications needed are determined by the nature of the problem and the component, but in the construction defect arena experts are predominantly architects and engineers...

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