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What is A Construction Defect Expert Witness, and When Might You Need One?


As a construction project manager, you recruit qualified tradespeople to make your project a reality. This includes trusting the building design and all its parts and components are safe and up to code. If something should happen and injuries occur, your company may be held liable for damages and potential lawsuits. The project can also be delayed and go over budget from repairs and corrections.

Should your company be involved in a lawsuit because of a building defect, it is recommended you hire a construction defect expert witness to support your organization. This person will investigate if there was an infraction committed that would compromise worker or occupant safety, or testify in court and reveal the defect’s source if necessary.

construction defect expert witness

What is a Construction Defect Claim?

A construction defect expert witness is an impartial, third-party building and legal expert that helps the court identify if there is a guilty party. Most construction defect claims stem from one of the following: a breach in the standard of care, flaws in the engineering processes, unfair trade practices, contractor bidding estimates, or construction delays that breach a contract. The results of these infractions can entail code and permit violations, fraud, and serious, potentially fatal worksite accidents. Many of these issues can be avoided with pre-and post-construction tests, like envelope testing. If something in the building design, construction, or materials used fail tests and inspections and isn’t corrected, there is a greater chance of litigation with a construction defect claim. Similarly, there may be consequences fornot complying with contract parameters or local codes.. The court proceedings are often complicated, drawn-out, expensive affairs that can significantly delay your construction project and put it noticeably over budget.

What is a Construction Defect Expert Witness?

A construction defect expert witness is a construction expert qualified to testify in court on behalf of a client involved in a construction defect claim case. These construction and legal experts identify problems during or after building construction that may have contributed to the defect claim or accident.

These experts have many years of experience in the construction industry, including construction injuries and accidents. With the legality surrounding building defect claims, the expert must be well versed in construction law. As well, defect witness can address zoning, licensing, regulatory compliance, contracts, the building process, management, permits, and insurance related to a construction project. If required to represent litigation, they will explain the industry standards and language to the jury or judge through reports, testimony, a reenactment of the accident, and/or consultation. Typical topics covered center on construction defects, building codes, accident investigations, work zone safety, cost discrepancies, structural engineering, and design evaluation.

In addition to an expert witness, it is sometimes a good idea to hire an expert specialist with experience and expertise in a specific field related to the case. These experts can include contractors, electricians, compliance experts, demolitionists, developers, and architects. Some of these additional experts may be certified and licensed in quality control, EPA standards, OSHA standards, and construction health and safety.

How to Find Experts to Help

When your company faces a construction defect claim, how do you go about finding the best construction defect expert to use as a witness? Here are some things to consider:

  1. Determine if the expert has specialized experience and knowledge in the area suspected as the defect source. Is the building design the problem source? Inferior materials? Improper construction?
  2. Interview multiple experts. Ask if they have testified before on similar cases and if they have expert witness reports prepared.
  3. Look at the witness’ experience and qualifications. How many years of experience do they have? Are they licensed?
  4. Be sure to draw up or request a legal contract. The agreement should include the terms, payment options, and willingness to go from expert to expert witness.

Talk to the Experts

Z6 Consulting offers forensic architecture services and building envelope testing to ensure your building project is safe and code compliant. Our sister company, WH Coltzer, offers experts with years of experience in the building industry and cases requiring expertise in building envelope systems. We can help your building project stay on budget, finish on time, and most importantly, meet safety standards. Contact us today.