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Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case

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  • Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Hello everyone

    Mike (Moderator) and others -

    I'm the moderator here at JLCOnline for the Business Technology forum - In my "day job" I'm assisting some homeowners who are in dispute with their insurance company over the scope and cost of repairing damage to their home, which was impacted by an F1 Tornado .

    Long story short - the insurance company has offered what we consider to be a low-ball estimate for repairs on the dwelling, and so the homeowner has elected to go to arbitration. Per their policy, the case has progressed to the local circuit (county court) court judge is tasked with selecting an "umpire" (their policy term) who will ultimately assess the cost of the damage. Whatever this "umpire" comes up with is what the homeowners must accept.

    I can't serve in this role because 1) I know the people personally and am not considered objective) and 2) We need someone with building science -specific background.

    The other side (the insurance company) has put forth three candidates for "umpire" who are all protagonists for the insurance industry - essentially claims adjusters who are paid guns in these kinds of cases. I can't go into too much detail here - but essentially the insurance company sees the case as "a tree fell into the house" and caused minor localized damage. What really happened is much different - yes there was a tree - but it didn't fall - more like it was hurled like a projectile. This house is a 150 yr old plank and beam home - the storm racked it 6-8" out-of-whack, and the damage is evident literally in every single room. A 150 yr old barn 90' behind the house was in the direct path of the storm... was completely demolished into toothpicks and strewn over a half mile path. The path of the tornado is clear - there are trees in a line that had all their upper branches stripped off - it's bizarre.

    We are looking to put foward 2-3 people with building science backgrounds who are also qualified to assess costs and repair procedures. This is a professional engagement and you will be paid a professional rate to travel to the site (it's near Corning, NY on the PA side of the border) to assess the situation, and if-needed to testify in a hearing- all of your travel costs will also be covered, etc.

    We need to find an individual with a good resume/C.V. Published authors, building science profs., structural engineers tradespeople who have been doing this for many years, etc. - preferably with direct experience with 100+ yr old buildings.

    The county court judge will have 6 individuals to pick from - three from us - three from the insurance co. We want to make sure our people are obviously much more qualified than anyone they put forward so it will be a no-brainer to select one of our candidates. The local judge is a very smart and fair guy - we're pretty sure he'll see the benefit of using someone with a solid background in building science/ structural engineering/ etc.

    If anyone reading this (including the moderator) is interested - please contact me by e-mail. Use moucon [at] yahoo [dot] com and put "Tornado damage" or similar in the subject line so I can easily find your message. Or leave me voicemail at 607-738-0077 and I'll call you right back at first opportunity

    The people in this case are long-time friends of the family - I went to school with their kids and they've both been involved in the community for years. Bill (the husband) drove bus for sporting events for years, etc. They are an older couple now - both in poor health. Luckily they have had a place to stay since the storm - some of their kids live locally and they've been staying there.

    This is time-senstive - we need to put our three candidates forward by the end of this coming week - April 12 or so.. Thanks very much in advance.

    Joe Stoddard - moderator Business Technology
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC

    How can we help you achieve your goals?

  • #2
    Re: Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    The MD Historic Trust was very helpful in helping me locate the right masonry contractor for the restoration of a house built circa late 1700's. Once we had the project underway they continued their assistance. Do you have an historic commission/agency of some type in the area? It sounds to me like a local historic restoration/renovation contractor is who you need, and an historic agency, or an architectural firm that deals with renovations to historic houses could help you locate a contractor.

    The architectural firm for my project had a location in Philly as I recall... the company I believe was JMA Associates. The architect's name was Peter Benton. Maybe they can help.

    And as for here I'd talk to Tom Bader and/or Mark Parlee.

    Last edited by TSJHD1; 04-07-2012, 08:02 PM.
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    2) Consciously Incompetent: He knows not, and knows that he knows not. He is simple. Teach him.
    3) Unconsciously Competent: He knows, and knows not that he knows. He is asleep. Wake him.
    4) Consciously Competent: He knows, and knows that he knows. He is wise. Follow him.

    May we all endeavor to progress from not knowing that we know not, to knowing that we know.


    • #3
      Re: Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case

      Thanks Tom
      Got your heads up on the text.

      Will call Joe
      Mark Parlee
      BESI(building envelope science institute) Envelope Inspector
      EDI Certified EIFS Inspector/Moisture Analyst/Quality Control/Building Envelope II
      EDI Seminar Instructor
      Level one thermographer (Snell)
      You build to code, code is the minimum to pass this test. Congratulations your grade is a D-


      • #4
        Re: Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case


        I don't have a person to recommend but I can advise on the type of person you should seek.

        1. Preferably local. This is arbitration, not major league litigation. A big gun "expert witness" from far away lends a big money mercenary aura that judges don't favor, particularly in small towns.

        2. I wouldn't look for a Building Science guy or academic. I'd look for a seasoned contractor or architect who is also a structural engineer. If he's well known and respected in the area, that much better.

        3. Have the person sign an affidavit saying he won't have a financial interest in the outcome, i.e will not bid for any of the renovation work.


        • #5
          Re: Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case

          Howdy - the process is "apprasial" - be sure the homeowners insurance policy appraisal process is followed as it is the contractual way to proceed.
          There is an excellent company out of Dallas Texas -

          The insurance industry has utilized for a long long time. They are very knowledgeable an are straight shooters.


          • #6
            Re: Need Expert for Tornado Damage Case

            Howdy again after reading the details of your other post. consider hiring a structural engineer inspect and determine what parts of the structure need to be opened to inspect then have a competent contractor bid the damages. based on a re inspection by the engineer. along with lots of photos and submit this evidence with a ten day time demand letter to the insurance company. Bad faith pays out real good if your dealing with insurance employee super egos... Also remember to get a realistic time line for repairs as sounds like the home will be uninhabitable for some time- this time out of home is covered damages to also the pack out and back in of their contents also covered. I am not familiar with Texas insurance policies as state specific coverages and exclusions apply- in the conditions section of the policy see if it is stated whom has the right to repair- the insurer? Moreover the construction company that the insurer had bid the job research who they are. Any complaints at the better business ....against them... The additional biggie is if the insurer stands behind the contractor that they had bid the job get in writing just what they are warranting an how disputes are resolved. Also A laser level an video tape makes a real challenging argument for extent of damages. An impresses experts judges and juries.
            Last edited by Albion; 04-08-2012, 12:06 PM. Reason: tpyo and to make sense