Construction Expert Witness – When Do You Need One?

What is a construction expert witness?

A construction expert witness has extensive knowledge and expertise in the construction industry, including all aspects of construction techniques, planning and costs.

He /she gives experts evidence at a Tribunal or Court based on his inspection and report of the construction standards that are being disputed. The independent report of the construction expert, along with his testimony, all helps to inform the courts on facts and issues related to law such as building delays, codes and compliance, construction costs and construction defects.

In such cases, experts look at the job in dispute, comparing the works reviewed to what is expected from the relevant building codes and Australian standards. The goal is to compile a detailed report on works as discovered.

What makes a construction expert witness?

Not only is a construction expert someone with extensive knowledge of and expertise in the construction industry, he must also be a good communicator. He needs to be able to describe industry standards, technical language, and complex issues to the trier of fact.

The construction expert witness must be well-versed and up-to-date on the methodologies, processes, materials used and most importantly, the Building Code of Australia and Australian Standards relevant to the case at hand.

Depending on the facts of the case, it may also be important to hire a specialist with expertise in a particular field.

What does a construction expert witness report on?

A construction expert will consult, provide reports, and testify on aspects of construction, such as:

  • Building Code Compliance
  • Australian Standard Compliance
  • Construction defects
  • Construction safety
  • Cost estimates
  • Forensic investigations
  • Governmental regulations
  • Price discrepancies
  • Quality issues on finishes
  • Structural Engineering Compliance
  • Toxic mold
  • Unsafe exposure to workers

Testimony provided by a construction expert witness

Expert witness’s knowledge and how it can be put into words and descriptive photos in an “expert report” can be very effective in strengthening a legal argument, persuading the trier of fact, and ultimately attaining a winning result.

The construction expert can also discuss standard industry warranties, such as attainment of all proper and necessary licenses, the quality, appropriateness and completion of the construction project, good workmanship and the habitability of the structure.

In disputes over such matters, expert witnesses provide testimony, giving their opinion on whether a party in question met the level of responsibility associated with their job description and duties.

Role of  building expert witnesses in complex engineering processes

Tribunal matters related to construction disputes often deal with complex, technically-driven engineering processes.

For example, destructive testing uses processes that break down a certain material in order to determine its mechanical properties and assess whether the material is of the correct grade and substance.

Destructive testing is especially useful in determining whether a building material is sufficiently secure, or assessing whether works carried out and no longer visible are accessed to determine who is at fault.

A construction expert can provide valuable testimony explaining how destructive testing has proven factors previously inaccessible.

Construction Expert Witness carries out destructive testing - image
Construction Expert Witness can carry out destructive testing to provide independent evidence

Example of destructive testing in expert witness testimony

Core holes are drilled out of a retaining wall system, proving the absence of detailed blue metal and waterproofing behind the wall.  This evidence was previously concealed.

In complex Ncatt cases, where liability is difficult to determine, a building construction expert can provide critical testimony on complex issues. As this information is usually unknown to tribunal members, it is often revealed as a result of destructive test results.

Call Paul Cavallo of Independent Building Inspections
on 0419 868 008 to act as your independent construction expert witness

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