2017 National Engineers Week

2017 Engineers Week Logo

The 2017 National Engineers Week or Eweek is just around the corner. This year it will be celebrated from February 19-25, 2017.

2017 National Engineers Week

2017 Engineers Week - Dream BigIn the United States, National Engineers Week is always the week in February which encompasses George Washington’s actual birthday, February 22. It is observed by more than 70 engineering, education, and cultural societies, and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. The purpose of National Engineers Week is to call attention to the contributions to society that engineers make. It is also a time for engineers to emphasize the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills.

The celebration of National Engineers Week was started in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers in conjunction with President George Washington’s birthday. President Washington is considered as the nation’s first engineer, notably for his survey work.

Dates to Remember

What You Can Do

The best place to get information regarding Engineers Week is to visit the DiscoverE.org web portal dedicated to Engineers Week. There you will find all about the events listed above as well as a resource page with different media formats to help spread the work and encourage youth to take up engineering.

Dream Big

To help kick start Engineers Week, Eweek organizers have created a film called Dream Big for IMAX and giant screen theaters that showcases engineering’s impact on our world. It is produced by MacGillivray Freeman. The trailer is below and looks to be inspiring to both young and old alike.

 

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The Use of Infographics in Forensic Architecture and Engineering

Sample infographics

Sample infographics

Information graphics, also known as “infographics”, is an effective method to present information in order to convince and help your audience understand your point or argument.

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Senate Bill 800 / SB 800 Documenting and Repair – An Expert’s Perspective

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California Flag

The state flag of California

The Senate Bill 800 statute was intended to provide an alternative process to resolve certain types of construction defect disputes without an expensive and time consuming lawsuit involving mediations and/or trial. SB800 became the construction defect law in California for any home purchased after January 1, 2003. SB 800, as it is commonly referred to, is sometimes called the “The Homebuilder Right to Repair Law” or “The Fix It Law”. The statute provides functionality standards and timelines for most building components which when followed can determine appropriate repair protocol that the developer/contractor can perform in order to resolve issues prior to a lawsuit. We have seen many SB 800 cases over the past 13 years, and expect there will continue to be many more cases that will be dealt with through the SB 800 functionality standards and guidelines. I am writing this to provide perspective as to the positive and negative aspects of the statute and its implementation.

To Repair or Not to Repair

On non-SB 800 cases through the years, most were settled through mediation. The few cases unable to find resolution in the mediation process would proceed to arbitration or trial. The costs of defense that are incurred to take a case beyond mediation through arbitration or trial are very expensive and often exceed the cost of performing the required repair. The idea behind SB 800 was to reduce that expense of mediation and trial by providing the functionality standards and timelines for determination of what issues were defects and allowing the builder to repair the defects that are identified within the SB 800 law.

stucco cracking

Stucco cracking

If the developer/contractor does the repair, does SB 800 give them the hope of avoiding a lawsuit? The challenge facing an expert for the builders is to know the SB 800 functionality standards and timelines in order to provide a relevant documentation and scope of repair for the issues that fall within the respective guidelines for each of the building components. When properly considered and implemented the repair gives the homeowner resolution and saves the developer/contractor significant litigation costs. The problem with performing the repair occurs when the plaintiff attorney sues the contractor even if the repairs were done. When the developer/contractor does the repairs they have to pay the costs incurred and there is no release provided by the homeowner or plaintiff attorney. A release would give the contractor some hope of avoiding further litigation. We often hear the defense side wonder why they should pay the associated costs to perform the repair when they get sued anyway and may have to pay additional money to settle the case.

Differing Viewpoints

Our experience with the expert reports issued from plaintiff experts and attorneys is that they are sadly lacking in the required specificity and in some cases the appropriate knowledge of the statute. Rather than providing the builders and their experts with a roadmap of the alleged defects and their respective locations, the norm is to provide a document that is so general it makes the inspection and documentation process resemble an Easter egg hunt rather than the guidelines as prescribed in SB 800.

Typically, within the SB 800 process there are vast differences in the statute interpretation and the approaches prescribed by plaintiff and defense respectively regarding the repairs that are expected, prescribed and/or performed. From our perspective, the statute, while somewhat ambiguous, does provide the necessary guidance and direction in order that rational and reasonable minds can come to an agreement.

In the past, the defense side would accuse the plaintiffs of taking any money acquired in settlement or judgment and use the funds to buy a new car or take a vacation rather than applying the money to repair the alleged defects at their homes. The plaintiff side would accuse the defense side of making loads of money building and selling homes and not standing behind their product when there were legitimate defective issues. Both sides can make their respective arguments for their position. Paraphrasing the old saying, there are three sides to every story – plaintiff side, defense side, and the truth. This is where the rational and reasonable minds thing comes in. A well prepared expert should provide their client with information and guidance, and must be an expert that provides honest issue evaluation rather than becoming an advocate for a position. The attorneys will be the advocates the experts should be the consultants.

Exposure

Exterior Light Fixture Being Sealed

Sealant being applied around exterior light fixture

I am not sure SB 800 repairs will ever provide the developer/contractor insulation from litigation, but it does give them a position to present if trial does ensue. In addition, the defense repairs can significantly reduce the actionable defects that the plaintiff has available for a continuing litigation. Plaintiff should be required by judges, arbitrators and discovery referees to provide the necessary information to the defense side in order for the experts to be able to properly investigate and observe the alleged defects. That information must include a defect list with listed SB 800 statute line items as well as the specific locations of the defects. Even with the developer/contractor providing proper repairs of the actionable items per the SB 800 guidelines as described in the Offer to Repair; without a release, it is likely that the repairs will not get the developer/contractor out of harm’s way.

Conclusion

The ambiguous nature of the SB 800 functionality standards creates a few different challenges for the defense side. The first consideration is the nature of the repair that is contemplated based on the interpretation of the statute. Next would be whether or not to make the offer to perform repairs. When the decision is made to perform the repairs one has to keep in mind the plaintiff may sue them regardless of quality of the repairs or how the functionality standards are interpreted. The cost of the repairs is always a concern and must be considered both as an alternative to a potential money settlement as well as in addition to a post repair settlement.

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2017 Brings in the New 2016 California Building Code

A New Code

2016 California Building Code

2016 California Building Code

On January 1, 2017, the State of California is adopting the 2016 California Building Code.  This affects the design and construction of new and existing buildings.  When and how the 2016 CBC will affect a specific building will depend on the local jurisdiction.

The 2016 California Building Code is based on the 2015 International Building Code.  Various California agencies add their own amendments to the 2015 International Building Code.  The 2015 International Building code is based on the following:

  • ASCE 7-10 including Supplement No. 1
  • ACI 318-14
  • AISC 360-10
  • AISC 314-10
  • TMS 402-13
  • TMS 602-13
  • 2015 AF&PA NDS
  • 2015 WFCM

The prior version of the building code 2013 California Building Code was based on the 2012 IBC.  Many of these code references to the 2013 CBC and the 2012 IBC have been updated.

California has its own amendments so that the 2016 CBC is a little different than the 2015 IBC.  For instance, the reference to the loading requirements of ASCE 7-10 Supplement No. 2 is added to the California Building Code.  Generally, most of the differences between the 2016 CBC and the 2015 IBC relate to school and hospital construction.

Free versions of the 2015 IBC2016 CBC, and other building codes are available.

Transitioning to ACI 318-14

One of the 2015 IBC references is American Concrete Institute’s Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete and Commentary ACI 318-14.  ACI 318-14 has been completely reorganized from the previous ACI 318-11 edition.  Because of this reorganization, ACI has published free transition keys between ACI 318-11 and ACI 318-14, so that a designer can bridge the differences between the two editions.  These transition keys are in both English and Spanish.

Sources and Additional Info

In addition to the links above, additional information related to updates in the California Building Code can be found in the following references:

 

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2016 Seasons Greetings – Jax Kneppers Associates (JKA)

2016 Seasons Greetings!

2016 Seasons Greetings from JKA!

Have a Terrific Holiday Season! Click on photo to enlarge.

Best wishes for the season from all of us at JKA!

See the past holiday cards here.

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Participating in the 2016 Great California ShakeOut

The Great California ShakeOut

2016 Great California ShakeOut

2016 Great California ShakeOut

You’ve probably heard about it before, but what exactly is the Great California ShakeOut? The Great California ShakeOut is a statewide earthquake drill that occurs annually every third Thursday of October. This year, it is scheduled to happen on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 10:20am. I highly recommend that you, your business, and/or your family take part of this potentially lifesaving earthquake drill.

California is at a higher risk of experiencing an earthquake than the rest of the United States, and it makes sense to prepare ourselves to be able to survive an earthquake. By participating in this drill, you will be able to practice what to do during and after a big earthquake.

Other states and regions will hold their ShakeOut on different dates. Check the ShakeOut website and choose the appropriate region in the dropdown menu to find out when your drill will take place.

Drop, Cover and Hold On

Drop, Cover and Hold On is the battle cry of the Great California ShakeOut and is the recommended course of action during an earthquake. This protocol says that when an earthquake happens, you should:

  1. DROP to the ground.
  2. Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table.
  3. HOLD ON to the desk or table until the shaking stops.

A more detailed explanation of the Drop, Cover and Hold On protocol, along with illustrative videos, can be found on the Great California ShakeOut website. Take the time to review the content provided on the ShakeOut website. You can also download the ShakeOut – Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions PDF  and other info from their resources page.

If you have any more questions, The Great California Shakeout has a Frequently Asked Questions section.

Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety

Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety. Click on image to visit website.

Doing the drill is only one part of preparing for a devastating earthquake. The Earthquake Country Alliance, an organization whose mission statement is “to support and coordinate efforts which improve earthquake and tsunami resilience”, has created a seven-step guide for earthquake safety preparation. As you can see, the Drop, Cover, and Hold On protocol is step number five in the steps outlined below. Their website goes into more detail about its Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety and visiting it is highly recommended.

  1. Secure your space – Identify hazards and secure moveable items.
  2. Plan to be safe – Create a disaster plan and decide how you will communicate in an emergency.
  3. Organize disaster supplies – These supplies should be located in convenient locations.
  4. Minimize financial hardship – Organize important documents, strengthen your property, and consider insurance.
  5. Drop, Cover, and Hold On – Follow this protocol when the earth shakes.
  6. Improve Safety – After an earthquake, evacuate if necessary, help the injured, and prevent further injuries or damage in order to improve safety.
  7. Reconnect and Restore – Reconnect with others, repair damage, and rebuild community to restore daily life.

Summary

In closing, the following is a quick summary of what to do to prepare for the Great California ShakeOut.

  1. Register – Register yourself or your family, your school, or business for the Great California ShakeOut.
  2. Prepare – Prepare for the drill and real earthquakes by following the Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety.
  3. Share – Share what you have learned with others — your family, friends, colleagues — so that they benefit also from the preparations. Encourage them to participate in the ShakeOut as well.
  4. Participate – Set your calendar notifications for October 20 at 10:20am. Come that time, follow the recommended steps of Drop, Cover and Hold On as part of the drill. You can make your drill as straightforward or as involved as you want, with the goal of learning what to do in the event of an earthquake emergency. Afterwards, celebrate with your colleagues or family for a job well done.

So mark your calendars for the 2016 ShakeOut. While you’re at it, you might as well mark next year’s also, as it is scheduled to take place on October 19, 2017.

Stay Safe

Emergency Preparedness "ready to go" kit.

Washington, DC, July 22, 2008 — A Red Cross “ready to go” preparedness kit showing the bag and it’s contents. Red Cross photograph

We never know when a large magnitude earthquake is going to happen. All we can do is be well prepared like a good scout. But, by following the steps above, you can rest assured that you’re well-prepared to handle the big one like a champ in case it comes. Here’s to a successful Great California ShakeOut drill and stay safe!

Fall Home Maintenance for the Busy

Street during the Fall

Autumn Leaves

It’s that time of the year again when the air will turn noticeably crisper, the days shorter and the nights longer. Fiery yellow, orange and red leaves will soon dominate the landscape (as well as football) and little minions will be lining up on your doorstep extorting you for sweets. So before you get caught up in that fall storm called Thanksgiving dinner preparation, get a jump on your fall home maintenance in the next coming weeks.

This is a great time to do house maintenance as the temperatures are cooler (but not too cold as it is in winter); making it an ideal time to do outdoor chores without the summer sun beating down on you.

We know you’re busy so we compiled a list of tips to prepare your house for these cooler months. Many you can do yourself quickly, but some of the more involved ones are best left to professionals, therefore freeing up your time for the more important stuff – like making your own costume or carving that award-winning pumpkin with the kids.

Check It Out

Interior

  • Cat resting by fireplace

    Have your fireplace checked by a professional so you and your pets can enjoy its warmth.

    Check the fireplace. Ensure the fireplace is working. Make sure there are no obstructions in your chimney. Have an inspector check your fireplace and chimney if you suspect any damage.

  • Check smoke and CO (carbon monoxide) detectors. See if they are functioning properly. It’s a good idea to change the batteries too.
  • Clean or replace air filters. Having clean air filters make your heating and cooling units run efficiently.
  • Check windows and doors. Make sure they close properly to prevent drafts and lower heating costs. Replace cracked window panes and repair loose frames.
  • Put ceiling fans in reverse. Many ceiling fans have a reverse switch. Changing the spin direction of your ceiling fan will create an upward draft that will redistribute warm air from the ceiling to human level. This article explains how this saves you on energy costs.

Building Exterior

  • Debris in Gutters

    Clearing debris in gutters may help prevent roof leaks.

    Clean rain gutters. Make sure rain gutters are free from debris and downspouts drain properly.

  • Perform a roof tune-up. Repair or replace cracked or missing tiles and/or shingles. Make sure all penetrations and laps are sealed properly so that water can’t enter your home. Clear the roof from debris to ensure that water flows away from the building as intended.
  • Check windows and doors. Caulk windows if there are separations or gaps. Ensure proper weatherstripping at doors to prevent drafts, and to lower heating costs.
  • Repair cracked or peeling paint. Clean and paint over any peeling paint to prevent further damage.
  • Seal separations and cracks. Use caulking to seal separations in wood. Hire a stucco expert to fix stucco cracks.
  • Cover window air conditioners and outdoor units. Use covers to protect unused cooling units from precipitation. If you have the time, you can remove unused window air conditioners and store them away.
  • Check foundation for cracks. Enlist a professional if you see any significant cracks.
  • Repair cracks on driveways and hardscape. Repair cracks with driveway filler and seal your driveway.

Yard

  • Fall leaves on the ground

    You can use fallen leaves in your compost.

    Stow away your gas-powered tools. Storing your gas-powered tools is relatively simple but it takes some know-how.

  • Store your summer garden tools. Cleaning and drying them before storing prolongs their lifetime.
  • Rake leaves regularly. Aside from beautifying your home, a yard free of leaves will discourage insects and other pests from nesting in your yard. You can even mulch the leaves and use them for compost.
  • Trim your bushes and trees. Keeping a buffer of 3’ from house will prevent damage during strong winds, and help discourage critters from getting on your roof.
  • Drain hoses. Water left in hoses can freeze and damage hoses.
  • Shut off outdoor water supply. Shut off outdoor water supply and drain pipes. As in hoses, water in pipes can freeze and cause damage.

Decks and Balconies

  • Cover seasonal outdoor items. Protect furniture, barbecue grills, fire pits and the like by covering them.

  • Check exterior supports, stairs and railings.  Repair any damaged items to prevent injury and more damage.
  • Clean decks and apply sealer. Prepare your deck for the upcoming harsher weather.

 

Other Helpful Lists

There are other things that you can do but the ones listed above are the essential if your time is limited. We’ve compiled a few links that offer more comprehensive lists.

You’re Not Alone

If you are unsure about any of the items on the list, don’t hesitate to call professionals for help. And make sure they’re licensed and bonded. Spending a little on maintenance can possibly save you a lot more in the long run. For example, a few hundred spent on a roof tune-up can help prevent roof leaks and potentially save you thousands of dollars in repair.

With a little planning and budgeting, you can maintain your house this fall. But be sure you do it before you get turned into one of the walking dead amidst that panic we all know as Christmas shopping.

JKA Manager Dale Winchell to Speak at Landslide Claims Law Seminar

Landslide Claims Law Seminar

Dale Winchell in a plane cockpitDale Winchell (Manager, Jax Kneppers Associates, Inc.) has been invited to speak at an intensive one-day seminar entitled “The Science and Law of Proving Landslide Claims, Strategies for Effectively Integrating the Science and the Law at Play in Landslide Litigation“.

Dale will be part of a panel to discuss “Practical Tips for Assembling the Case and Presenting the Science at Trial“. He will be joined by other experts in the field who will bring different perspectives on the topic including Daniel Pradel, Ph.D. (Professor, Engineering, UCLA), Frank Weirich, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Iowa), and Michael F. Waldron, MAI (President and Principal Appraiser, Waldron & Associates, Inc.).

With more than 20 years of experience, Dale will provide insight on working with other team members, gathering evidence, testifying at trial, and ways to effectively work together with attorneys and other experts.

Other informative topics to be covered in the seminar include:

  • The Science of Landslides
  • Liability Theories and Defenses: The Current State of the Law
  • Case Studies of Landslide Claims From Start to Finish in Different Contexts

The seminar will be held at the Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City Hotel on July 8, 2016 and will also be webcast for those who cannot personally attend, and made possible by Law Seminars International, whose mission is to provide the highest quality continuing professional education programs for attorneys, industry executives, agency officials and other professionals.

More Info

For complete information, please visit the seminar page at the following link:
http://www.lawseminars.com/detail.php?SeminarCode=16LANDCA