Advise & Consult, Inc. | September 14, 2015
Construction defect suits have been on the decline recently as many of the construction issues from the last building wave have been litigated or otherwise addressed. Portland, among many other cities across the US, finds itself in yet another building boom cycle which is certain to result in yet another round of defects. Anticipating the inevitable, local professionals are gearing up to help building owners, property managers, condo associations and home owners deal with construction defects and insurance disputes that proliferate when contractors and designers get busy and cut corners, or just make a mistake.
On Friday, construction attorneys, building experts and insurance adjusters attended the Northwest’s Premier Construction Defect and Dispute Conference (CDDC) in downtown Portland. The conference, sponsored by Advise and Consult Inc., was geared toward bringing the Northwest’s construction claim professionals up to speed on current industry trends, recent case law developments and to provide insight as to what can be expected after this next round of construction mayhem. Advise and Consult has 27 independent construction experts around the country including local Portland expert Caleb Beaudin and Seattle expert James Platt. Fourteen keynote speakers from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Utah made the trip to Portland, each contributing unique insight to round out the full day session.
According to Beaudin, a physicist, contractor and local building consultant, many construction defects come and go with the new building products flavor of the month. “Historically and categorically, I put defects into three buckets,” says Beaudin. “First off there are defects that cause damage from the inside out, such as the aluminum wiring substitution of the 1960’s that caused many structure fires and polybutylene piping prominent in the 1970’ that often deteriorated within a decade resulting in the re-plumbing of over 330,000 homes. Then of course you have the pollutant products that cause illness or worse to humans, such as lead based paint and asbestos containing materials. These products were prominent up through the early 1980‘s. Finally in bucket three, what we’ve seen consistently these past twenty five years are cladding and envelope assemblies that allow building damage from the outside in.” Commenting on the local defect trends, Beaudin continued “Due to our climate and the tightening of building envelopes, the Northwest has seen ongoing water damage, from vapor barriers trapping moisture in wall assemblies to the EIFS stucco and LP siding debacles of recent years.” Beaudin’s company provides inspection and consulting services to home and building owners who suspect faulty construction, moisture intrusion or other damages related to their homes or buildings.
Highlighting Friday’s conference was the Northwest’s Young Attorney of the Year award presented to construction attorney Adele Ridenour of the Portland based firm Ball Janik, LLP. The award was the first of its kind and was awarded based on peer nomination. Ridenour, a former Green Building adjunct professor for the University of Oregon School of Law, primarily represents owners in construction defect and insurance recovery related claims. While Ridenour could be considered young on the attorney career timescale, she is no spring chicken when it comes to awards. In 2014 and 2015 she was selected as one of the ‘Top 40 Under 40 Litigation Lawyers’ by American Society of Legal Advocates. She was also recognized by her peers as an Oregon Super Lawyer from 2013 – 2015 in the area of Construction Litigation. “The number of parties involved and overall complexity of construction defect lawsuits requires constant innovation to find the approach which best serves our client’s individual and unique interests.” said Ridenour. Outside of work, Ridenour is heavily involved in the community participating in outreach events by non-profit organizations such as Bienstar and Habitat for Humanity.
Event founder Eugene Peterson, aided by Beaudin, presented ‘10 Insider Secrets to Better Expert Witness Testimony’ to the group during the afternoon session. Peterson is a nationally renowned Expert Witness, who formerly served as president of the Utah Home Builder’s Association. “Many of us have attended West Coast Casualty, an annual construction defect conference in Anaheim that boasts several thousand attendees,” said Peterson. “We wanted to create something that was more local and less disconnected, so we put together 5 geographic seminars throughout the year where each region can focus on the issues relevant to them. This premier Northwest conference is a huge milestone for construction defect professionals on a local level. We’re already being asked about next year’s conference, which is planned for Seattle next November.” Beaudin commented “We may currently be between flavors of the month, but there is so much construction going on right now and so many new products being hastily thrown into the mix, it’s only a short matter of time before the deficiencies of this building wave surface and building owners suffer damages as a result.”