VERTEX served as the expert for a case involving balcony defects at a Seattle, Washington apartment complex. A group of real estate investors had purchased this large apartment community that included multiple buildings and more than 100 units. Prior to the sale, the seller had a Property Condition Assessment (PCA) performed on the property by a large engineering firm, which reported that the balconies were all in good condition and had a 30-year useful life remaining. With reliance on that inspection report, the investors proceeded with the deal.
After closing escrow, the new owners discovered that the buildings’ balconies were rotting, falling apart, and ready to collapse. They immediately contacted the seller’s PCA engineering firm, who, after re-inspection, concluded that all the balconies did indeed need to be replaced. The new owners sued the engineering firm that produced the original report, saying all the balconies were in good condition, and the case moved into arbitration.
Recognizing VERTEXs expertise on the subject of balconies and exterior elevated elements (EEE) evaluations, VERTEX was hired to conduct a physical inspection of each of the balconies and testify about their condition at the arbitration hearing. VERTEX’s findings not only confirmed the fact that the balconies were failing and needed to be replaced, but that the previous owner’s attempts at fixing the problem balconies actually made them worse. Evidence was found that there had been previous fixes attempted on the balconies, including nailing extra wood alongside the rotting beams. However, because the wood supports were not cantilevered, they were just adding additional weight and stress that would pull the balconies down faster.
VERTEX assisted in preparing the attorneys for cross-examination of the opposing side’s experts, and as a result, they were able to get them to make key admissions about the structural problems with the balconies. Both of the engineering firm’s experts agreed that the balconies needed to be replaced and ultimately, the arbitrator found the engineering firm to be liable.
This project was completed by Xpera Group which is now part of The Vertex Companies, Inc.