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 West Coast Casualty Construction Defect Seminar to be Held on May 12-13

The 2016 West Coast Casualty Construction Defect Seminar will take place at the Disneyland hotel in Anaheim this coming May 12 through May 13, and will once again feature many interesting topics regarding construction litigation.

The seminar began in 1993 and has become the premiere seminar for the members of the construction defect community. The many attendees coming from many different fields including legal, insurance, construction, and consulting, has made this the largest event of its kind worldwide.

For more information or to register, visit the West Coast Casualty’s Construction Defect Seminar website.

Dale Winchell to Speak at West Coast Casualty’s Construction Defect Seminar

Dale Winchell in a plane cockput

Dale Winchell

West Coast Casualty’s Construction Defect Seminar, which will take place at the Disneyland hotel in Anaheim this coming May 14 through May 15, will feature many interesting topics regarding construction litigation.

On Friday, May 15, one of these topics will be “Back to the Future with the Joint Defense Agreement – How to Use it to Benefit Everyone”, and will include Jax Kneppers Associates’ very own Dale Winchell. Mr. Winchell is scheduled to speak alongside Wendy Wilcox, Esq., Glenn Barger, Esq., Eric Michna, Lisa Unger, and Robert Friedenberg, Esq.

Dale has been a California licensed General Contractor since 1984. He will be bringing his experience and insights to the table and will  give his own perspective on the topic of Joint Defense Agreement as it pertains to the construction defect industry.

For more information or to register, visit the West Coast Casualty’s Construction Defect Seminar website.