Whether you’re a building owner or a builder, finding a neutral forensic expert associated with a defect claim can be a difficult proposition. You need someone that will remain completely objective throughout the handling of the claim and not become an advocate solely for either party. You need someone who will look at all of the facts available and present fair opinions based on the facts as opposed to formulating opinions that correspond closely with the interests of the client paying the expert.
California builders and property owners looking for an expert are fortunate, in that an organization exists that is a great resource for location of an expert. The organization is known as “WestCon.” This group’s directory contains lists of fully accredited experts that owners and builders alike can draw upon to assist with property inspections and dispute resolution, and the directory also has a list of design and construction references for further information.
Similar to how a person looks at factors when considering a new car purchase such as mileage, cost of maintenance, comfort and accessories, when considering a forensic expert, you should review their qualifications before settling on one. A listing of the more important qualifications include:
• Education-Does the expert’s background match your needs? • Have the expert written any articles on the subject in question, and if so, were they peer-reviewed? • How much real-world experience does the expert have in the construction industry? • What is the expert’s fee structure? • Do the expert have a respectable reputation in in the forensic world of claims handling? • References. These are a must. They must have references from builders, owners, attorneys, and especially recognized special masters in construction defect forensics. • What sort of experience do they have? Have they handled any depositions, been called as a witness at trial, written any reports used during trial proceedings?
Attorneys with more experience working in this field usually have up-to-date lists of accredited experts. These lists can be a start for you to create a short list-or act as your short list of experts to review to determine if they have the qualifications to be a good fit for your needs. This means that consulting with an attorney can actually make the process of hiring a construction defect expert much easier.