"Where were YOU when the lights went out?" was a famous slogan from the 1965 Northeast Blackout, but a better slogan in light of the more recent Superstorm Sandy Blackout of 2012 might be "How did YOUR building perform when the lights went out?"
Having recently testified as the door hardware, lock and security expert witness on a very serious elder abuse case involving the rape of a 93 year old resident of a retirement home, I am intimately aware of the potential for physical violence and neglect aimed directly at senior citizens. The following is about a completely different kind of abuse involving our senior population.
We have been responding to homeowner's complaints of sagging ceilings in the living space of townhomes which were built in the 1980's. Beginning in 2010 and continuing through today, Falcon Engineering has observed the condition of ceilings in over 30 homes in a Lincoln Park, NJ townhome community of close to 400 homes. Our findings are that upwards of 80% of the homes investigated have deflection which exceeds design criteria and are in need of repair. Repairs are relatively simple, but costly to the Homeowners Association having responsibility for the structural components of these buildings. Because of the need for financial planning, Associations want to understand the factors which influence the failures of these aging structures. For the purposes of this discussion, we are talking about failures which occur due to mysterious origin, rather than catastrophic failures of excessive wind or snow loads, or abuse from excessive loads that the trusses were not designed to accommodate (such as water beds or heavy stone finishing materials).
Most of the misunderstandings pertaining to contractor and homeowner relationships occur as a result of unclear or wrongly interpreted construction contracts. Upon entering into a building contract, the enthusiasm for starting the proposed work often creates a kind of glazing over or dulling of the senses on the part of the homeowner. Many times questionable terms and arrangements for payment scheduling are accepted or unknowingly agreed to as the homeowner's urgent desire to start work overshadows common sense. Often, the lowest priced contractor seduces the homeowner with promises of more value for the money.
Manufactured stone is a very popular product for both the interior and exterior of homes and buildings. There are many manufacturers of this type of cladding system, Cultured Stone® and Coronado Stone® among the most recognized names. A man-made stone manufactured primarily for decorative purposes, these systems are typically comprised of cement, natural aggregates and iron pigments. In order to give manufactured stone a realistic appearance and shape it is often created by using molds of actual real natural stones. Like many building materials, the use of manufactured stone has both advantages and disadvantages, and installation is vital to its long term success.
Who likely should be blamed for the blackish mold growth found at this new three-bedroom, two-bath apartment in San Jose, California? Unfortunately, landlords often rush to accuse their tenants of generating too much "lifestyle moisture". In many cases, such assessments are both inaccurate and unfair.
As a Construction Expert Witness, I have been involved in numerous homeowner vs. contractor lawsuits that turned out to be directly created by contractor fraud. In this article, I have combined a few different actual cases, highlighting the various tactics used by dishonest contractors to bait and then hook the homeowner. In all of these cases, the homeowner prevailed.
With sea levels rising by some reports and inch a decade and the prediction of stronger hurricanes todays aging building stock is at risk. In addition for new construction we must learn from the past. The proliferation of coastal development begs for consistent and sustainable construction techniques.
The need to have increased security to public venues such as airports, schools, religious facilities, day care centers, shopping centers, and government buildings is nothing new. However, it has become apparent that many unexpected assaults and deadly attacks are coming from individuals that have gained a certain level of intimacy with the venues and organizations that they are invading. The attackers are not necessarily strangers, but people we know.
A New York City building underwent litigation pertaining to the construction of an addition to the existing structure and resultant structural support system depriving tenants of proper light and air through their existing windows. Falcon performed a light and air study on the effect of both the addition and the structural support system on lighting and air flow in defense of the claim.