When a balcony collapse resulted in the death and injury of multiple individuals, the building contractor’s maintenance of the supporting joists and erosion control was brought into question. A following investigation concluded that the wooden joists supporting the balcony were allegedly completely rotten, and had been concealed under the building’s stucco and and other building materials. Over the years, there had been large mushrooms growing off the balcony that had been kicked off by management rather than practicing land development, and the contractors had refused to fix any issues with the balcony after the onye-year warranty had expired. The trial required an expert in contracting industry customs and practices to opine on whether the erosion of the balcony joists could have been preventable.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Do you have experience as a contractor on similar projects?
- 2. Is is customary for a contractor to fix an issue like rotting even after a warranty is over?
Expert Witness Response E-082977
I have been involved in Architectural Design and Construction for well over 40 years, and have been a licensed contractor to design and build homes since 1989. Any good contractor would inspect and fix an issue like rotting even after a warranty is over. The management company likely has the largest share of liability, as it would have been their responsibility to either notify the contractor that did the original work, or another contractor to examine and comment on or repair any suspected or possible deficiencies. A contractor would normally visit the site, and examine any deficiency issues when notified of a problem with their work. In addition, I am very familiar with the issue at hand and can speak about the design and inspection of closed decks.
Expert Witness Response E-076038
I have a great deal of experience with this type of construction, and have built and supervised the building of exterior balconies. In some areas, a General Contractor is liable for his work for 10 years after completion of the project. The Contractor should have come back to fix the problem.