Construction litigation requires the use of experts in many contexts. For example, a typical project starts with the “design phase” in which civil engineers, geotechnical engineers, hydrologists, environmental engineers, surveyors and architects are involved in shaping the contours and features of the project design. The design phase is followed by the “construction phase” in which numerous design professionals are involved. These include, among others, architects, structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, among others. All of these design professionals must coordinate their activities with those of the general contractor and subcontractors.
Design professionals also have to be careful to make sure that materials specified for the project are fit for their intended purposes and will not cause or exacerbate construction deficiencies. Many construction materials become code compliant as alternate materials under the building code and their manufacturer’s installation specifications become the standard for Code compliance. Communication with the manufacturer or distributor becomes very important in determining whether materials can be used on a particular project.
Assuming litigation ensues after design or construction defects are found, experts will almost certainly be required to render reports and testify at depositions and at trial. Counsel will also need to consult with experts during various stages of the case. Typical issues that may require use of expert testimony or require counsel to consult with experts include, among many others:
1. whether work was performed deficiently;
2. Whether materials were defective;
3. whether certain work was within the scope of work of a particular contract;
4. whether the work of a contractor conformed to the scope of work in the contract;
5. whether the design or workmanship was deficient or the materials were defective, or some combination of the three;
6. the applicable standard of care governing that work;
7. Whether there were delays that are actionable;
8. the cause of the deficiency or defect;
9. the damages flowing from delays or deficient workmanship or materials;
10. what needs to be done to repair the defective materials or deficient workmanship.