Residential Construction

September 9, 2019

An inside look at a failed roofing repair

Source: https://www.constructiondive.com, August 14, 2019
By: Kim Slowey

Dive Brief:

  • San Diego State University, inewsource reported, mishandled a $2 million renovation of its College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts building to the point that a former OSHA official called the project, which ended up shutting down the building because of released toxins in the air, “a case study in how not to do projects.”
  • The renovation was supposed to start last summer, but SDSU failed to secure the proper permits in time, so the schedule was changed so that work would begin in early 2019 when students were on break. After heavy rains, crews used Tremfix to seal the many roof leaks, but an aging and malfunctioning HVAC system failed to clear the building of vapors from the chemicals, which entered through nearby fresh air ducts on the roof. Testing revealed that the level of coal tar pitch volatiles was just under OSHA’s safe limit and above the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s limits, even though crews tried various methods — some disruptive — to remove the fumes. Read more.
August 30, 2019

Engineers put $6 million pricetag on cleanup at Harrisburg wall collapse site

Source: https://www.pennlive.com, August 29, 2019
By: Christine Vendel

Cleanup of the Harrisburg wall collapse site next to the Mulberry Street Bridge in Harrisburg is expected to cost about $6 million, engineers revealed Wednesday, putting a pricetag on the project for the first time. Read more.

August 15, 2019

Heritage Landing Couple Says In $10 Million Lawsuit That Mold In Residence Made Them Sick, House Not Habitable

Source: https://www.chattanoogan.com, August 14, 2019

A couple that bought a condominium at the upscale Heritage Landing on the Tennessee River said mold under the house made them sick and the house no longer habitable.

Tim and Muffy Mitch are suing the Heritage Landing Condominium Association, Morris Property Management, PDM Engineering, Mack McCarley of PDM, Precise Plumbing, Charles Reynolds of Precise Plumbing, Reliable Heating and Air and Alternative Actions, Inc. Read more.

May 21, 2019

Defects in west Denver homes highlight what can happen when development outpaces everything else

Source: https://denverite.com, May 20, 2019
By: Donna Bryson

The ensuing legal tangle calls into question how city building officials ensure that developers can meet the demand for housing — and do it safely.

After the city raised safety concerns so serious that new beams had to be installed to support a row of homes in Villa Park, the owners and their builder joined to sue the engineering company. The engineers in turn blamed the city and a company contracted to review building plans.

The legal tangle spelled out in Denver District Court papers is a matter of life or death for the small building firm and, at the very least, stress for the homeowners and the engineers. It also puts a spotlight on how Community Planning and Development is managing, amid Denver’s building frenzy, to ensure that developers can meet the demand for housing — and do it safely.

The pressure is strong to get permits issued so people can have houses and offices. In a 2017 report, the Denver auditor focused on the building permitting system, noting “Denver is growing quickly, and we want to ensure the process for planning projects is effectively meeting city objectives and efficient for customers.” The auditor’s recommendations on improving efficiency urged reviews to determine whether staffing and resources were sufficient. Safety was not a focus of the report, the most recent to look at permitting.…

May 21, 2019

Ongoing asbestos cleanup forces 2 New Orleans schools to spend another year at temporary spots

Source: https://www.theadvocate.com, May 19, 2019
By: Marta Jewson

Two New Orleans charter schools will spend a second year in temporary facilities as multimillion-dollar asbestos remediation jobs stretch into another school year. The schools — Lafayette Academy in Carrollton and Rosenwald Collegiate Academy in Algiers — had previously been expected to move into their permanent buildings this fall.

In a lawsuit filed Friday, the Orleans Parish School Board claims it has spent $5 million relocating schools and programs as a result of contractors’ mismanagement at Lafayette Academy’s South Carrollton Avenue building, which was closed last summer due to an asbestos release.

The Choice Foundation, which runs Lafayette charter school, is a co-plaintiff in the suit. The foundation says it has spent $1.3 million replacing possibly contaminated furniture and equipment at the campus.

Asbestos, a commonly used building material until the 1980s, is dangerous when its fibers becomes airborne. Many old schools may contain the fire-retardant material in floor tiles and adhesive, ceiling tiles and pipe insulation. It is generally safe unless renovations or other activities disturb the material.…

February 19, 2019

Damages from Natural Gas Pipe Explosion Covered

Source: https://www.irmi.com, September 2015
By: Kent Holland

Where a natural gas pipe exploded due to construction workers disturbing it while working on an excavation project, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the resulting bodily injury and property damage was caused by a “pollution condition,” i.e., the escape of the natural gas, and that the contractor’s pollution liability (CPL) policy was required to pay defense and indemnity costs.

In Acuity v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 861 N.W.2d 533 (Wis. 2015), Acuity Insurance was the commercial general liability (CGL) insurer for the contractor, and Chartis was the CPL insurer. Acuity defended and indemnified the contractor in four lawsuits seeking recovery for bodily injury and property damage caused by the natural gas-fueled explosion and fire. Acuity then sought recovery from Chartis, asserting that the CPL policy provided coverage for the damages because it was caused by a pollution condition.

The trial court found in favor of Acuity against Chartis—concluding that Chartis breached its duties of defense and indemnification. That decision was reversed by an intermediate state court of appeals, holding that the bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) were “due only to the explosion and fire, not to contacts with the escaped natural gas itself because the gas intrinsically is an ‘irritant’ or ‘contaminant’….” That decision in turn was reversed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the decision that is reported in this article.…

February 19, 2019

No Duty To Defend under CPL Policy for Natural Gas Pipe Explosion

Source https://www.irmi.com, July 2014
By: Kent Holland

A Wisconsin appeals court found that an insurer’s duty to defend under a contractors pollution liability (CPL) policy was not triggered by an explosion caused when a contractor hit a natural gas line. The court explained that the CPL policy only covered property damage and personal injury due to direct contact with a contaminant—such as natural gas—not from an explosion due to the leaked contaminant.

The case was brought by another insurer (Acuity) that provided the same contractor with a commercial general liability (CGL) policy that did cover damage from the explosion. Based on the decision, the CGL insurer could not require the CPL insurer to share in the costs of defense and indemnification. See Acuity v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co.,353 Wis. 2d 554, 846 N.W.2d 34 (Wis. App. 2014).

The Insurance Dispute

Four consolidated lawsuits were brought by several plaintiffs against a contractor, Dorner, Inc., following an explosion that occurred when Dorner employees hit an underground natural gas line. The ruptured line caused an explosion and fire that destroyed a church, damaged nearby houses, and injured two employees of an electric utility company.

The contractor had a CPL policy issued by Chartis Specialty Insurance and a CGL policy issued by Acuity. Acuity provided defense and indemnification to the contractor, settling the lawsuits for about $1.5 million, plus defense costs of almost $300,000. However, from the outset, Acuity contended that Chartis was required to share in the defense and indemnification costs under its CPL policy. Chartis denied that its policy was triggered, prompting Acuity’s suit in circuit court against Chartis for breach of the policy.

February 8, 2019

San Francisco gas explosion shoots fire that burns buildings

Source: https://www.fireengineering.com, February 6, 2019

A gas explosion in a San Francisco neighborhood shot flames into the air for hours Wednesday and burned five buildings, sending panicked residents and workers fleeing into the streets.

It took utility crews more than two hours to put out the fire after private construction workers cut a natural gas line, igniting the towering flames, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. Authorities initially said five workers were missing, but the entire construction crew was found safe, and no other injuries were reported.

Officials evacuated several nearby buildings, including a medical clinic and apartment buildings, Hayes-White said. Vehicles on a busy street got rerouted as authorities cordoned off the bustling retail and residential neighborhood.

The fire damaged a building housing Hong Kong Lounge II, a popular dim sum restaurant frequented by tourists and students at the University of San Francisco that made many “best of” lists.…

October 31, 2018

Dozens of homeowners claim houses are falling apart, but major builder refuses to fix them

Source: https://www.wftv.com, October 30, 2018

Dozens of buyers claim their new homes are falling apart, but a major builder refuses to fix defective stucco despite a multimillion-dollar state settlement.

They sued KB Home. The homeowners claim new testing and internal documents show the new homes’ stucco coating failed building codes and the company knew it.

Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich found homes KB refused to fix.

The stucco cracks can be extreme on some homes. Sometimes the concrete coating failed so badly, chunks of the wall just fell off.

“How does that happen?” Ulrich asked.

“Uh, wow, it’s hard to take. It really infuriates you, to be honest,” said homeowner Omar Kashif.…

September 5, 2018

Methane Explosion Injures 10, Collapses Roof at Chicago Area Water Reclamation Plant

Source: https://www.enr.com, August 30, 2018
By: Jeff Yoders

UPDATE: Worker’s torch set off methane explosion

The roof of the sludge concentration building at Chicago’s Calumet Water Reclamation Plant collapsed after an explosion Aug. 30 around 11 a.m. Ten people were hurt and successfully evacuated to area hospitals for treatment by the Chicago Fire Dept. The plant is located in south suburban Riverside and is the oldest of the seven Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago wastewater treatment facilities. It opened in 1922 and provides wastewater treatment to approximately 1 million homes and businesses in southern Cook County.

According to a statement from the city/county agency, two people were trapped and were extricated from the building by Chicago Fire Department emergency crews and transported to local hospitals along with the other eight injured personnel. Firefighters to had to tunnel more than 40 ft through the rubble to extract one of the trapped, injured workers; that rescue took nearly two hours.…