When property owners claim that the foundation is unstable, or water is intruding into their building, they often blame the company who built it.
These property owners, whether they are homeowners or small business owners, often do not understand the complex details of construction. Therefore, they must rely heavily on expert witnesses to prove their claim.
That is why it is important for contractors and construction companies to understand the role of expert witnesses in these cases. Depending on the type of issue – in our hypothetical water intrusion near windows – you would typically retain a window expert, framer, water proofer and perhaps a general contractor to provide an overall repair estimate. In other cases, perhaps a structural engineer for foundational claims, wall cracking and unlevel floors; a geotechnical engineer for soils issues, settling, toxicity; plumbers and electricians, etc.
Property owners need expert witnesses to prove defect claims
Claiming the existence of a defect or damage is not enough to warrant compensation in a construction defect claim. Property owners often have to consult expert witnesses to prove:
- The cause of the defect;
- The quality of work;
- Violations of California building codes;
- The standard of care;
- The extent of the damage; and
- The reasonable cost of repair.
Expert testimony can be essential for defense too
Expert witnesses play an important role in defense as well. Adding expert testimony in addition to the defense is helpful to:
- Reiterate and give authenticity to the defense; and
- Effectively challenge expert testimony from the other party.
Expert witnesses can significantly bolster defense against a defect claim.
The use of expert witnesses often depends on the case that contractors face. However, contractors must ensure they understand how beneficial experts can be to preserve their reputation in these complex cases.