2017 Seasons Greetings!
Best wishes for the season from all of us at JKA!
2017 Seasons Greetings!
Best wishes for the season from all of us at JKA!
The 2017 National Engineers Week or Eweek is just around the corner. This year it will be celebrated from February 19-25, 2017.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
In addition to the links above, additional information related to updates in the California Building Code can be found in the following references:
2016 Seasons Greetings!
Best wishes for the season from all of us at JKA!
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 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:
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.
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.
In closing, the following is a quick summary of what to do to prepare for the Great California ShakeOut.
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.
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!
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 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.
Clean rain gutters. Make sure rain gutters are free from debris and downspouts drain properly.
Stow away your gas-powered tools. Storing your gas-powered tools is relatively simple but it takes some know-how.
Cover seasonal outdoor items. Protect furniture, barbecue grills, fire pits and the like by covering them.
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.
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.