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  1. #1

    Default Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    I posted a version of this over at the "Building Science" forum as well.

    Bill R - this might be something you're interested in?

    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 . Per the homeowners' 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'm helping by using my circle of contacts/influence to find them the best possible candidates for "umpire" - in hopes that the local judge would select a building science expert over the claims adjusters the insurance co. is putting forward. I am not being paid a dime for my involvement - these are strictly friends of the family. This has been going on for almost a year - the storm was last April.

    I can't serve in this role because I know the people personally and am not considered objective.

    This same storm, BTW, leveled large sections of a small town 5 miles to the west. That one made the national news. 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. The tree in question was in the direct storm path - the house was a few feet to the side -so the "eye" may have passed directly over the home (speculation).

    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. I'm not going to publish the daily rate but it's the "going professional rate" for this kind of work.

    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. If anyone reading this 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

    Again this is time sensitive - we have to have our candidates to the judge by the end of this coming week.

    Many thanks in advance.
    JLS
    Last edited by jstoddard; 04-10-2012 at 10:27 AM.
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Northwest Indiana
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    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Joe,

    I am going through the same thing on my parents home. It will be a year in June.

    We are also at the stage where the judge will appoint an umpire. Both parties have rejected the others offering of an umpire. The judge will choose our umpire from a court approved pool. The ones put forth by the parties are not members of the pool.

    I wish you and your friend the best in this matter. Pictures and paper work are the two most important items to have. Be organized. Do a syllabus/table of content for all of the invoices that have been submitted. There needs to be a reason for an invoice, make sure there is a clear explanation of the reason.

    Get a copy of the insurance policy, memorize it. Check state insurance law also. These are the 2 things that determine whether or not the claim is allowed.

    If one of the issues is O&P this is an article on the rulings;

    http://www.clausen.com/index.cfm/fa/...reds_Claim.cfm

    If I think of anything else, I'll post it.

    Tom
    http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

    Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Martinez, California
    Posts
    14,829

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Joe:

    The bigger, and first issue is insurance coverage, especially on an older home. Most insurance policies do not cover code required upgrades, victims of the Oakland Hills fire had enormous problems because rebuilding to code sometimes cost as much as double or triple what the homeowners' insurance covered. There is a legal specialty called "coverage attorney", and most insurance bad faith attorneys do not specialized in that field, but most bad faith attorneys know the names of the better coverage experts. The insurance companies have staffs of coverage experts to deny and limit claims, the first step would be to find a good coverage expert and bring the policy to him/her to analyze the coverage and see if it covers all costs necessary for the repairs that are going to be mandated for reconstruction, a good coverage attorney can also come up with legal theories justifying extended coverage if your friends' policy doesn't cover reconstruction up to today's codes.

    After dealing with the coverage issue and while the coverage expert is analyzing the policy I'd find a structural engineer licensed in Pennsylvania to do calculations and draw up plans to rebuild the home to code as required today. At one time Joe Lstiburek was know as the best building science expert witness ever, other experts have driven hundreds of miles to hear him testify, he's gone off in another building envelope science direction now, but he still might be available armed with a structural engineer's report, or know of someone else who still specializes in the structural aspect of building science.
    “It is not an endlessly expanding list of rights —the “right” to an education; the “right” to health care; the “right” to food and housing. That is not freedom. That is dependency. Those are not rights. Those are the rations of slavery – hay and a barn for human cattle.” - Alexis de Tocqueville

  4. #4

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Thanks for the input guys - and the interest for those of you who contacted me.

    -------------------
    The main thing - PLEASE get me your CV/Resume as quickly as possible - use the regular email address. We can discuss the case in detail later, but if you're really interested I need your resume/CV this coming week to submit to the court. Once I've done that it's totally out of my hands - the county judge picks the 'umpire' from those submitted, so please make them good. I'd say key items are

    - Understanding old pegged together structures - what you have to do to reinforce them after they're knocked loose.
    - Understanding potential damage caused by various lateral forces like this storm
    - Certificates,degrees, whatever in structural and building science issues
    - Published works - articles, books, web, etc.
    - Presenting at conferences
    etc.

    Again - appreciate the input and look forward to your CVs.
    JLS
    Last edited by jstoddard; 04-10-2012 at 10:13 AM.
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  5. #5

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Thanks very much Tom - good input. We do have good paperwork so far - lots of photos and so forth - also right after the remodeling was complete 5 yrs ago. We have a copy of the policy and have pretty much memorized it -- and I set up the people with an attorney friend of mine who I used to work with 20 yrs ago (we were two young bucks wokring together back then) - who has done a bunch of these cases - is well-respected here in the county - and is really good . But the other side has spared no expense. They have TWO "Forensic Engineers" who have both come up with reports that rubber-stamp their position. These guys are employees or agents of the company and they travel all over for this purpose. But they are very good at generating very official-looking reports that would intimidate the typical homeowner.

    I really appreciate the support of this community - JLC is the one of the greatest affinity groups on the planet and I'm seriously proud to be a part of it.
    JLS
    Last edited by jstoddard; 04-10-2012 at 10:15 AM. Reason: Speling
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  6. #6

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Dick - thanks for the input - I am going to contact Joe L. He and I (and my wife - back then she could put back the shots on occasion too) closed the bar in Charleston back in '92 at our AIBD convention... they ran out of Jack Daniels and finally kicked us out. Joe had to speak the next day and you'd never know he hadn't gone to bed at 7:30 to get ready - a true pro. I was suffering in the worst way.

    If nothing else he could probably offer additional good input.

    We have to stand united when there is injustice- I was on another case many years ago where a local landmark burned to the ground - a very ornate 1880s home that had once been a hotel for weary travellers - all meticulously restored by the owners. It burned to the ground - their replacement cost policy was half a mil at the time.... the insurance company offered $12K. Not enough to replace the millwork on the wrap-around porch - much less re-build the structure. And the code update thing was a huge issue on that one.

    The insurance company in that case was able to DEPRECIATE the quote because they claimed the owners were UNDER_insured. IT was a fiasco of baloney designed to cloud the root issue , which was the people paid thier premiums for 30 yrs an now expected the company to hold up their end of the bargain. They wound up settling for enough to buy a new modular and put it on the site - better than $12K but still nowhere near the value of their policy.

    JLS
    Last edited by jstoddard; 04-10-2012 at 10:23 AM. Reason: fixed stuff
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Northwest Indiana
    Posts
    5,576

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    I bet I can guess what insurance company it is.

    I will say, recently I have worked with 2 other insurance companies. Both had very professional adjusters. The small issue I had with one was resolved in less than a minute.

    Tom
    http://chicagocraftsmen.org/2011/06/261.html

    Check with the AHJ, what we say doesn't matter.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Houston & Washington Texas
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    12,076

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    A bit off topic, hurricanes hit the Texas Gulf Coast every few years and in 2008 Hurricane Ike did quite a bit of damage in and around Galveston, all the way down the coast to Corpus Christi. The insurance companies, in dealing with property owners, really screwed a lot of people and actually did not follow all state mandated regulations. This created an unbelievable cottage industry of attorneys suing insurance companies, there were/are ads everywhere you turned by these law firms. A few attorneys became very, very rich, I interviewed one who wanted a house built. I mean hundreds of million$ rich.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    146

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Off topic as well, but wanted to share my experience with a good insurance company, USAA.

    I had a weekend place up in the hills that burned down in the Hayman Fire 10 years ago. The fire got 133 homes total.

    The adjuster came in, took measurements of what was left of the foundation, listened to us tell him how the house was built, looked at our pictures.

    Called us a week later and said "yep, your house was worth the policy amount, $168K. Check is in the mail. You also had a 25% cost of replacement rider, so if you spend more than $168K rebuilding, we will pay up to $42K extra."

    I was taking my time rebuilding it, working on weekends and the "payment period" was running out. Even with the house only about 70% done, no problem, same adjuster came up, took a few notes, measurements and pictures, and cut us a $42K check.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Sterling Heights, MI
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    4,614

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    I find USAA to be the most consistently good insurer to work with on all levels.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Boston, MA
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    4,744

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Peerless does my General Liability insurance and I believe they are quite reputable. My broker is really good and only deals with really good companies.
    "First we finish the game, then we’ll deal with the Armada!"

    Sir Frances Drake

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    348

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Quote Originally Posted by jimAKAblue View Post
    I find USAA to be the most consistently good insurer to work with on all levels.
    ME TOO? I gave away a lot of their money for a long time. So many reasons why. Not least of which is by corporate charter after 2% profit they refund the rest to the members, insureds,. An the members are a very fine group to work with. I had no idea the quality of our military officers until i went to work at USAA. The best part of working with the members and the staff was everyone knew USAA would look for coverage and give the member the benefit of doubt. So if your grand parents or parents or you were an officer - Start doing your insurance, & banking & visa an more with those fine folks.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Ted
    This case could be an anomaly, it could be processes or communication broke down early-on.. I don't know. This was not your basic "tree falls into house" situation. The damage was severe enough that the first engineer on-site taped off the property and made the occupants move out - they packed up all the owners' possessions and put them into storage before anyone knew what was going on. This caused problems of its own b/c all their insurance paperwork was with the stuff taken to storage. It was pretty bizarre. I'm not 100% sure of what all ensued in the hours right after the storm - I didn't get involved until after they had all the stuff out and they were starting to have problems with their settlement - but from what I'm told there were half a dozen people involved and nobody knew what the others were doing.

    JLS
    Last edited by jstoddard; 04-10-2012 at 10:19 AM.
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

  14. #14

    Default Re: Need Building Science Expert for Tornado Damage Case

    Guys - I decided to close this thread and will remove it at the end of this week after we've submitted our candidates. Because this stuff is all discoverable should the case ever make it to court I don't want anything posted here (mostly by me) to impact the case one way or the other.

    If there's somebody out there who is still interested and has not yet done so - please get me your CV /Resume - they have to go in this week. Thanks again everyone.
    =====================================
    ((Planning + Process) x Technology) = SUCCESS!

    Joe Stoddard
    Mountain Consulting Group, LLC
    Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/moucon

    How can we help you achieve your goals?
    ====================================

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