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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Jax Kneppers Talks About Mobile Collection Technology at the 2016 AACE Annual Meeting in Toronto

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Toronto SkylineJax Kneppers, President and CEO of Jax Kneppers Associates, Inc. and Imfuna, gave a presentation entitled “Mobile Collection Technology to Create Accurate Cost Estimates” at the 2016 AACE International Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, on June 27, 2016. The presentation was part of the annual event that spanned June 26 through June 29 that attracted cost estimators and engineers from all over the world.

Mobile Technology for Field Data Collection

The lecture focused on the following:

  • application of mobile technology for field data collection
  • database driven technology for efficient organization of data
  • advancing the professional practices by using cloud-based mobile collection technology
  • impact of mobile collection technology on the industry

Jax discussed the current practices of field data collection, which often use multiple devices such as digital cameras, dictaphones, note pads, drawings and tables, to capture different types of data. Using different  devices to separately capture dictations, measurements, notes, and photos made the entire process cumbersome. This is especially apparent when you start combining the massive amount of collected data from the different sources into a usable format. These current practices are laborious, time-consuming and inefficient.

The key to improve field data collection methods is technology according to Jax. With advances in mobile technology, one can consolidate the field tools into one device and noticeably improve the taking of photos and notes, and field sketching. Other advantages with using mobile technologies include better data resilience or integrity, and increased site mobility and safety.

Improved Inspection Efficiency

A comparison of time to complete common inspection activities between traditional methods and mobile technology methods showed an improvement of almost 64%. Since the data collected using the newer methods is digital, the speed in which reports, analyses and cost estimates were created dramatically improved.

The Team

The presentation was put together by Jax Kneppers, Dr. Borja Garcia de Soto, and Matthew Dick. Dr. Garcia de Soto has a PhD in Civil Engineering at Eidgenössishche Technische Hochschule Zürich, and has had extensive experience in civil engineering, project management, schedule analysis, cost estimating, BIM and forensic engineering. Matthew Dick is a construction consultant turned software developer at Imfuna and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UCLA.

With a vast background in mechanical engineering, cost estimating, and forensic engineering, Jax Kneppers is the president and CEO of Jax Kneppers Associates, Inc (JKA) and Imfuna.

About Jax Kneppers Associates, Inc.

Jax Kneppers Associates, Inc. is a construction consulting company with expertise in building envelope design, forensic engineering, structural engineering, scheduling, cost estimating, and construction planning management.

About Imfuna

Imfuna is a global technology company specializing in mobile apps focusing on digital inspections for the construction and rental property industries with offices in the UK, the US and South Africa.

About AACE International

AACE International is a non-profit association that serves the total cost management and cost engineering community. They provide members and stakeholders with the resources they need to grow their businesses. AACE International began as the American Association of Cost Engineering,  and then changed its name to the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering. Afterwards, the official name of AACE International was adopted.

Celebrate Women in Engineering and Register for the 2017 Global Marathon

2017 Global Marathon Logo Horizontal

DiscoverE’s 2017 Global Marathon

Two Women Engineers

Global Marathon is a celebration of women in engineering.

The 2017 Global Marathon, a DiscoverE event, is a free, virtual event that focuses on women in engineering and technology, and will take place on March 8-9, 2017. The sessions are aimed to educate and empower.

The keynote topic for this year is the engineering behind Cirque du Soleil. In addition, there will be a wide range of exciting topics that will be covered, including the Mentorship Cycle, Entrepreneurship, and many others.

Taking part is easy. Just register and watch the sessions remotely on your computer or mobile device.

Agenda and Speakers

2017 Engineers Week - Dream BigThis year’s marathon builds on the theme Dream Big. The full agenda can be viewed on DiscoverE’s 2017 Global Marathon Agenda page, while the full list of dynamic speakers can be viewed on DiscoverE’s speakers page. Here is just a brief sampling of what will be presented.

Day 1 – Creating Your Dream

  • The Engineering of Cirque du Soleil: An Intersection of Circus Arts & Technology!
  • All Aboard, The Future of Commercial Space Travel
  • Engineering Student to Entrepreneur; Global Team Creates Global Solution

Day 2 – Making Your Dream a Reality

  • STEM, the Other Mother Tongue
  • The Mentorship Cycle – Mentoring Throughout Your Career
  • Dream Big: Engineering Our World

Register for the 2017 Global Marathon

Mentorship is one of the topics being covered in the 2017 Global Marathon.

Mentorship is one of the topics being covered in the 2017 Global Marathon.

There are many topics that will be covered so we’ve created a handy 2017 Global Marathon Schedule Planner (PDF) to help you plan which sessions you’ll view. Even if you’re even just remotely interested, register now or share it with someone who might be. Make sure to check your email after you’ve registered and follow the instructions.

Did I mention it was free and virtual? So set aside some time now to check it out, and get inspired.

Other Programs and More Information

Global Marathon is one of many campaigns by DiscoverE to help promote engineering, especially to the youth and women. Other campaigns include Engineers Week, Girl Day, and Global Day.

To keep up-to-date on things related to construction and engineering, follow Jax Kneppers Associates, Inc. on LinkedIn.

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Today is Girl Day – Introduce a Girl to Engineering

2017 Girl Day logo

Two visually-impaired girls work together on a small vehicle.

Two visually-impaired girls work together on a small vehicle.

Girl Day is a worldwide campaign to introduce girls K-12 to the innovative world of engineering. Thousands of engineers, teachers and others act as Role Models to educate girls about how engineers change our world. This campaign is part of Engineers Week 2017.

Girl Day is more than just one day. It is a movement to show girls the importance and impact of engineering in the global community. Now, more than ever, the world needs young women to pursue career paths in STEM (science, technology, engineering & math). Below is a short guide to help you get started, and here’s a PDF of the Girl Day 2017 Planning Guide.

Planning Your Girl Day Activities

  • STEP 1: Find out if something is already being planned.
    Does your company, engineering society or university host Girl Day events? Get involved.
  • STEP 2: Create opportunities to inspire.
    Introducing a girl to engineering can happen anywhere and at any time. Think about what works for you and your schedule. You can:

    • Visit a classroom or afterschool program. In as little as 45 minutes you can tell students about your job, how it makes a difference in the world and answer questions. And you can lead a hands-on activity.
    • Invite a small group of girls to visit you at work or on your campus. You can give them a tour, introduce them to your colleagues and showcase a project under development. You can even feed them lunch!
  • STEP 3: Reach Girls.
    Two girls explore the properties of pink blob of gak while a volunteer looks on.

    Two girls explore the properties of pink blob of gak while a volunteer looks on.

    Contact the staff person in your organization who handles community engagement, volunteerism or K-12 outreach to find out about any, current relationships with local groups. If there are no pre-existing relationships, consider contacting the local Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs and schools to set up a visit. National Girls Collaborative Project has a rich database of local girl serving organizations. And, you can visit this step-by-step guide to get pointers.

  • STEP 4: Select Activities.
    You want fun, hands-on engineering activity ideas? We’ve got tons to choose from!
  • STEP 5: Use effective messages about engineering.
    Students in K-12 often don’t know what engineering really is and what engineers do. Use these five powerful and effective messages about engineering to really connect with students. Watch our Bring it Out video series to see powerful messages in action. Also, see our online guide for tips on how to talk to students about engineering.
  • STEP 6: New to working with girls or hosting an event?
    Check out our short, online training that walks you through the ins and outs of leading hands-on activities.
  • STEP 7: Share your plans.
    Announce your event on the following DiscoverE social media pages:

Not Just Today

Remember, this is not limited to today only. You can do this any time of the year. All it takes is a little bit of planning and the right resources. So whether you’re an engineer, teacher, or someone who’s interested in STEM subjects, this is a great way to make a positive impact on our younger generation and the world.

More Information

For more information about Girl Day, please visit DiscoverE’s Girl Day web portal. There you can find all sorts of resources to help spread the word and inspire the next generation of girls to become women engineers.

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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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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!