CASE STUDY: Expert Witness Services in Building Defects Claims
How a special expert can assist in litigation
Overview – Building
- Mixed – use building in Sydney, Australia
- Class 2 (apartments), 7 (carpark) and 6 (retail)
- Type A Construction
- 10 storeys
- Existing Fire Engineering Solution
- Several alleged defects identified by a consultant engaged by the owners of the building. Consequently, the owners filed a claim against the developer and the builder (defendant).
- The defendant agreed to several alleged defects, however found some recommendations for rectifications expensive and unreasonable.
The defendant engaged fire safety special expert, Christina Knorr, to conduct a site visit and provide an independent expert opinion on whether the alleged defects are indeed defects and what the most feasible rectification method would be.
Christina inspected 20% of each of the alleged defects in question and prepared a litigation compliant expert report, including a Schott Schedule listing any confirmed defects, alleged defects that she did not consider to be defective and comments on recommended rectification works. All findings were supported by evidence, be it NCC DTS clauses, design specifications, test reports produced by others and photographic evidence. On several occasions, the alleged defect could be “fixed” by the provision of additional documentation or a fire engineering assessment.
Test reports for fire-resisting door sets and wall insulation were able to be sourced. In addition, Performance Solutions were produced for the use of floor waste collars, the extended length of a common corridor, sprinkler system water supply and omission of the insulation criterion for intumescent fire dampers.
As a result, a $3,500,000 claim could be successfully reduced to $200,000 and both parties were able to settle without having to spend more money on court attendance.
This is one example of a successfully performed building defects assessment. It not only demonstrated that not all alleged defects are indeed defects, but also saved the developer and builder the order of $3.1 M and ensured that building occupants are not disturbed unnecessary identifying alternative means of defects rectification.