Diego, CA 92129-3523
484-8118, Fax 484-8302
Subject: Stone Installation Failures-Why?
Presented By Gregory Mowat
The Construction Specifications
Institute, Inc., Dallas, Texas,
June 23, 2001
I love this opportunity to share
with you what we have learned from our personal history and perspectives while
performing forensic investigations of brick, tile, and stone, assemblies.
We work for attorneys involved in
construction defect litigation.
We perform independent
investigations where no lawsuits have been filed.
We perform independent
investigations for insurance carriers to examine floor failures potentially
caused by water damage.
We assist in quality management to
do the assembly right the first time and/or for reconstruction failures
following the settling of claims of construction defect lawsuits.
We worked for attorney’s involved
in personal injury lawsuits until 1999.
Forensic Tile Consultants office is
in San Diego, California.
Forensic is defined as the
application of science technology to law.
There are some differences between
the commercial and institutional construction that differ from the residential
I define a general contractor
as a contractor that may competitively bid, or negotiate for, and contract to
perform construction, based on documents provided by others that are warranted
as a complete set of documents.
I define builder as a
contractor that hires the architect to prepare drawings for construction and
obtaining a building permit, and constructs the project based on how the
portions of the project are assigned to subcontractors for installation.
A builder set of drawings
means the architect was no longer involved in the project after the builder
receives the building permit by the governing jurisdiction in which the project
is built. In this role, the builder assumes all liability as owner, architect
Defect is defined as a lack
of something essential, imperfections and shortcomings, failing.
Failure is defined as
something that is not performing for its intended usage.
Patent defect is defined as
a defect observable or discoverable by the average person.
Latent defect is defined as
a defect that takes an expert to discover the defect.
An expert is one who knows
more than the majority of persons in the same field of work.
Attorneys from San
Diego took a lawsuit on appeal regarding a residential
tract to the Supreme Court in California
and obtained the ruling that construction is a product, and therefore a latent
defect may be discovered up to 10 years after completion of the project.
A patent defect may be discovered
within 4 years after completion of the project.
Once the defect is discovered, you have
up to four years to have the defect corrected or file suit. Once the suit is filed, you have up to four
years to enforce the lawsuit.
The California Supreme Court ruling
occurred in the early 1980’s.
Plaintiff attorney’s in California
assist owners of properties where damages have occurred due to poor design,
construction, or performance to obtain monies to correct the damages and the
defects causing the damages.
The attorneys are paid hourly or
share in a percentage of the award of damages awarded in court, through
arbitration, or mediation.
Of the lawsuits we are involved in,
less than 2.3% go to court.
We go to trial when the parties
disagree on the scope of the defects and failures and/or the repair required to
correct the defects and failures.
Government agencies have affected
our industry by making rules related to omissions in the environment.
in 1986, Volatile Organic Compounds, called “VOC’s” changed the manufacturing
of many products.
An example is that solvent based
Type I mastics could no longer be used in California.
I will further talk about this
change which is affecting the floor covering industry and construction of
showers with direct bond to water resistant gypsum board.
Residential Defects And
When homeowners or property
managers call us to perform an independent inspection we ask, “Well, what are
Common responses are:
“The floor is not flat!”
“There is excess lippage and the
contractor says this is normal!”
“The stone is stained or discolored!”
“The stone is hollow!”
“The stone is cracked!”
“The stone is fractured!”
“The stone surface is spalling or
“The polish is not uniform!”
“This is not what we bought or
expected to have installed!”
“The stone is different in color or
has a larger shade range in color and we bought one color of stone”