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Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I am a Florida CBO who recently had a housefire that heated the interior of the building to over 900 degrees for approx. 45 minutes. The fire did not penetrate the drywall membrane of the trusses, but did dry-out the core of the drywall (calvinization).  There was bat insulation which held residual heat for hours beyond the period of time the fire department extinguished the fire.  The trusses have shown signs of charring and discoloration of the gusset plates of the trusses.  As a professional, I hired a structural engineer to access the damage and he concluded that the fire compromised the trusses and since more than 30% of the trusses require replacement, this is now a Level - 3 Alteration according Florida Building Code Existing.  Insurance company states that the trusses just don't look that bad and they have repaired worse.  I have attached a Fire Model for those of you interested in heat damage to trusses.  Your comments are welcome and appreciated.  Particular comments to why trusses don't have to look so charred to be compromised would be especially helpful.

I believe this is an issue because I have Code Insurance on my policy and if they agree to the truss replacement, they will then have to bring the entire structure up to current code.  

 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I looked at the publication very quickly...

Hate to be the devil's advocate here, but Figures 2 and 3 have this statement:

"Temperature reflects the internal temperature of the lumber at the time the load was increased until failure."

To me, this seems to address the loss in strength when the lumber is heated, not after the fire when it has cooled, which is the apparent bone of contention.

Am I missing something here?  

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Point One - The National Forest Product Laboratory is certainly authoritative on this subject.

Point Two - Bob White has probably done more research on fire damage to wood than anyone in the country.

Point Three - Truss plates pull away from the truss during a "heat event" and that alone reduces the capacity of a truss significantly.

Check the other publications of the Forest Products Lab on fire effects...you'll validate your rejection of the existing trusses.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

In addition to the above...

The wood may have been damaged by pyrolysis which reduces it's strength and impact resistance as well as increasing the likelihood of it starting on fire a second time.

Keep us posted and if I get a chance to dig 'em up, I have several publications on structure fires... They're packed in cardboard boxes in the basement... I've done many reports on fires.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Thank you for the replies. I did forget to mention that the structural engineeer did some non-destructive and destructive testing with the use of moisture meters and picks. They also observed sapping and wood-splitting. Any articles you wish to share, will definitely be read and filed.  I guess I'm just surprised that as Professionals, we pay for a certain type of insurance and the insurance company doesn't really care that we know what we are talking about. What is even more interesting, is that they disregarded the County Building Official's letter and recommendation.  I'm very knowledgeable about Florida Building Code, yet they are not shy to try and disregard the truss damage, so that they can minimize the claim. Meanwhile, if you're in Florida, you know that you're only one good hurricane away from a convertible house.  Thanks guys, I'm new to this website and hope I can help anyone out in the future.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

You might takde look at this thread too:

Home > Forums > Engineering Codes, Standards & Certifications > Engineering Codes, Standards & Certifications > NDS/AITC (Wood Construction) Code Issues Forum
 How does heat/fire affect wood strength?
thread173-220260: How does heat/fire affect wood strength?

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

In an old copy of the NDS, 1982, in Appendix C, it made mention that up to 150 degrees Farenheit, the wood regains it's strength and elasticity after it cools.  Above that temperature, any loss in strength or elasticity is permanent.

I couldn't find my current copy...

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I downloaded the article in the thread. Thanks. My fire was over 900 degrees according to the fire department and you can see visible charring. I'm going to print all the articles and am working with a structural engineer to validate our claim.  If anyone has experienced something like this, I would love to read their story.  Any Building Officials out there that have had an Insurance Company disregard your determination?

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne....I've attached one article from the National Forest Products Lab that might be helpful to you and your engineer. It is a public domain article. I have two other articles, but they're too large to attach.  Go to the Forest Products Lab website and do a search on "Fire Performance" and "Post-fire Evaluation"...you'll be able to download the articles.  Also, check Chapter 4 of the "Wood Handbook".  It has some good info on fire damage.

One other thing to note is this is potentially a "public safety" issue. Your engineer needs to note that under Florida law, he has an obligation to report the insurance adjuster's decision to the engineer's supervisor (if he has one), the adjuster's supervisor, and since you are the CBO and you're already aware of it, he needs to take it to the insuror's governing body...the state insurance commissioner.


Under Florida Administrative Code, Rule 61G15, paragraph 19.001(6)(l), the engineer can be fined for misconduct if he does not report it.

(l)    if his engineering judgment is overruled by an unqualified lay authority with the results that the public health and safety is threatened, failure by a professional engineer to inform his employer, responsible supervision and the responsible public authority of the possible circumstances;

You might also want to get an opinion of a another engineer as well...



 

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Ron, that is very helpful.  I don't like to escalate things unless I'm pushed into a corner, but it seems that the insurance company is looking to minimize the claim.  I have printed the articles and will highlight it and provide a copy not only to my Engineer, but also a copy for the insurance company.  I'm going to hire another Engineer as well.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

If he is the CBO and owner, he should maybe excuse himself and have another CBO (area close) since he may have a conflict of interest.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Good point.  I am a CBO, however, I am not representing myself in this case. I should have clarified. My county has a Building Official who I provided all the reports to for his evaluation and recommendation.  It was after I received his recommendation that I submitted it along with all the reports to the insurance company.  I felt it would be a huge conflict of interest if I tried to represent myself, I felt that for the purpose of discussing this with professionals on this site, that you knew I was knowledgeable about Florida Building Code and a credentialed professional.  The insurance company is disregarding that Building Officials recommendation and not accepting the Structural Engineers determination, or the Truss Company's evaluation.  Thanks for the reply.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Some insurance companies stonewall.  This may be the time for a letter from your lawyer.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Yes, I agree on the stonewall comment. We're compiling all the articles, engineering reports and will set-up a meeting. In the meantime, they are hiring an Engineer to do a report for them. We're wondering what Engineer in his right mind would be willing to state that 900 degrees for over 45 minutes hasn't damaged the trusses, but you know how deep Insurance company pockets are.  We have an attorney ready to go, but I still believe in giving someone a chance to do the right thing.  I'll keep everyone posted. Thanks for the advice.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Please let us know what the engineer for the insurance company says and also what your third-party engineer says.  You have an issue that might need to go to the state board level.  It already needs to go to the insurance commissioner. Insurance adjusters should not be practicing engineering and to let them get away with it is not right.

Being an engineer in Florida, specializing in construction forensics, I have a significant interest in the outcome of this situation.

Thanks,
Ron   

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Ron, I wasn't thinking of reporting to the insurance commissioner until you mentioned it here. I have advised my first Engineer about your reply and he agreed. I will, of course, keep those interested aware of how this progresses. I am determined to take the all the way to court if necessary.  As soon as I know whether or not the insurance company is going to act in good faith, I will post all the reports for you to see including the building official's letter.  I can't wait to see which Engineer they hire, and if he's an insurance guy or a professional.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

You might want to get copies of all the reports the fire department has prepared including the assessment of the temperatures, and the duration as well as any information they have about damage from similar fires.

Best to get any and all info before things start to get nasty and people start to tighten up on disclosing info. Your engineer should be able to do that for 'background' for his engineering report.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Good advice. I have the original fire report from the fire department. It clearly states that the temperature was approximately 900 degrees. I provided that report to every professional reporting. I even included it in the packet to the Building Official, who made his determination.  You're right about information. I expect that things will get nasty. I just want to make sure that we have all the reports and if they choose to act in bad faith, then it leaves us no other option than to report them to the commissioner and let the lawyers figure it out.  The report from Mr. White is pretty clear.  I even spoke to him personally and was impressed on his knowledge.  Unfortunately, I also did some research on the insurance company and apparently, this is their M.O. when handling issues with roofs.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Make sure that if it gets to the litigation level, that your attorney is a construction lawyer.  I've seen clients waste money on a good real estate or contracts attorney, only to find that they needed a junkyard dog who chews concrete.

What part of Florida are you in?

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

and if it progresses that far, the damage likely extends to the foundations... not just the shingles <G>.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

You have a way with words, Ronnie..."a junkyard dog who chews concrete."  BTW, I haven't met a construction lawyer that doesn't... seems to be part of the work!

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Love that quote.  Yes, it lookks like they have hired a forensic engineering firm out of Florida.  So, lets see how legitimate a firm it is.  Thanks for the advice on lawyer. Good point.  I'll google "junkyard dog" and hopefully a few good lawyers come up.  I can't believe it has gone this far.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Ron, I have offices in Ft. Myers, travel to Broward County and am there for two days a week. Additionally, my home is located in Highlands County, which crosses Florida on US 27. I just signed a contract to do work in Kissimmee area for the next 3 years... On my way to St. Augustine for a conference this weekend, so you can say I'm everywhere in Florida these days.  Just re-read your post that you are in forensic engineering... I'm just waiting to see what the forensics engineering firm hangs there hat on to get the insurance company what they want.  You guys will be one of the first to see anything I get from them.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Yeah, I'm looking forward to his report as well.  I'm in Duval County and most of our work is in Duval/St. Johns.  We have an office in Orlando as well, doing work in Central and South Florida.  As with you, we pretty much cover the state.  I have two projects in Kissimmee.

This one is interesting...let's see how it pans out.

Enjoy your conference.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I was talking to one of my classmates who has his own consulting practice and he's into wood construction. He used to be the engineering manager for one of the truss manufacturers in Winnipeg.  He's also active with the TPIC group.

He was wondering how the trusses sustained 900F temperatures for 45 minutes? Are there good records of the time and temperature?

His normal practice for fire damaged roof trusses is that if there is any significant charring, the truss is suspect and should be removed.

If the plates have moved, then he used an example that if the gap is less than a credit card, the strength of the connection is likely there, but the strength rapidly falls off for larger gaps.

He also noted the reduction in strength as well as a loss of ductility. As a bit of a surprise, apparently trusses that are treated with a fire retardant material lose strength faster.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Dik, thanks for discussing this with your friend.  The fire temperature information came from the firemen onsite. They measure the temperature on their protective gear and also had a thermal gun.  The time is estimated from the time I was away which was about 1.5 hours.  The drywall in the house was calvinized and we lost entire contents, every one of the 4 rooms, including closed closets were a total loss due to extensive smoke damage.  This all comes from the fire report and we have a letter from the adjuster stating the total content loss inside.  However, I will forward your message to our engineer and have him review it for the gaps as stated in your message.  I'm alway open to learning more about this, whether it helps my case or not.  I'm a mechanical engineer and Florida Code is my life.  I'm going to Washington DC next week to help write tests for the USGBC and am focused on Green Building education. This fire has definitely put the pressure on me, and it doesn't help that I'm going to have to fight on this issue of truss damage just to save a company a few bucks. I'd like to upload some pics of the fire damage so you guys get a sense of what we're all looking at.  Not sure if photos are allowed on here.  

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Your photo's are welcome as long as they are in good taste 2thumbsup.
 

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

rowingengineer... anytime I see charcoal... reminds me to bring the steak and sausages...

I think all firetrucks should have a box of hotdogs and marshmallows on the front seat...

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
I did a truss evaluation in Orlando some years back and the truss plate institute has a similar requirement to what dik pointed out.  When the gap exceeds about an eighth of an inch, the capacity goes way down!  That can come from wetting/drying, fire or mishandling.  In any case, the result is strength reduction.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I had a call from an Engineer that told me another problem you can run across is when the truss plates get heated for a long period of time and then slowly cooled down, that the plates become annealled. (softened)  The gaps are a good point and there is some gapping in the most affected areas. As for the credit card size, I'm going to have to look into that.  Question, if this situation was happening to one of you, would you want to be present to watch what the forensic engineer is doing or looking at? Or do you think you would have already hired a Public Adjuster to take care of the fight?  I'm curious, because my wife wants to meet the forensics guy because she feels that maybe it will make a difference if he looks the person in the face, especially if they are an insurance henchmen.  I have to comment about the hotdogs... there were enough firemen at this fire and there was definite charring.  Next time, I'll just pull out the bbq...

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Always have someone watch the other side when they do their observations.  That way you can decide how thoroughly they checked things, you can see their methodology, you can see if he measures or even looks at the gap, you can see if he tries to determine the depth of charring, you can see if he does any moisture content testing, you can see if he tries to correlate the physical evidence with other observations (i.e., melted plastics, discoloration of metals, spalling concrete, etc.....all of these are indications of thermal conditions, so he needs to check them).

Don't lead the guy to anything.  Don't talk to him, don't give opinions...just watch and be quiet.  If he's good, he'll show it.  If he's a shyster, he'll hang himself.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
You know, I asked the question, because I do want to be there. My concern is that it will be extremely difficult not to say anything.  These guys make their money on insurance claims for the insurers, so I'm not holdling out hope of an unbiased report.  My wife said that she would watch him, but she doesn't know what to look for. I was advised by a public adjuster that I shouldn't have my Engineer present.  He said he would be present, but I would have to retain him, and I don't want to retain his services until I'm absolutely sure which direction the insurance commpany is going.  With my schedule, it'll be close to impossible for me to personally be there.  Wish I could hire someone like you watch him, but where I am, there are not many people up to your level.  I wonder if I had my wife use her camera phone to video, so I can review it for myself.  The idea feels so unethical, and I wouldn't want someone to video me when I'm doing work.  It's a dilemma, but I agree, I want to see what he does.  He said that he would take about 3 - 4 hours and would go truss to truss. Would love to have a video to share with you guys... would I be breaking a law? I'm sticking to the professional reports and hope that the Building Official sticks to his original determination. The gapping issue has me very interested. The housefire occured on June 10th and the house was saturated with water from the firetruck and left closed all this time.  A lot of humidity. The industrial hygeinest took samples, and now we have mold through-out.  It will probably be a few weeks before I can show you guys the insurance company's report.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

The mold should be enough to condemn the house.  Based on some other cases in Florida, particularly with courthouses, the health problems associated with widespread fungus should get the insurance company's attention.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Don't need someone with an engineering knowledge to watch, just someone with a good memory that can take good notes with a  few pictures when he dose something interesting, like measures or tests. Older people do this when I do water damage or foundation movement reports. I always request a copy, but other than that I don't get too worried about it, so this guy shouldn't.

Be nice and delete the ones that make the guy look fat.

Dik,
I'm with you on this, mashmellows by an open fire, beer in hand and a steak on the BBQ, dam fine dinning in my opinion.
 

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I plan on having either myself or another representative there.

I'm in St. Augustine today and just want to forget this house problem.  And, now this thread has me craving some good BBQ.  

You guys are too funny.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

We used to have a prof that used to hop onto the table at the front of the class to sit on it... this was fine until an engineer I know quite well... put a marble under each of the four legs...

Now, that's funny.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

dik...let me guess...that engineer is coincidentally exactly your same age and was born in the same hospital!!

That is funny.

Wayne...as for video and photos, it's your house you do what you want and don't worry about them.  A little close scrutiny might keep the engineer from being stupid.

Now go get some good BarBQ at Bono's, Sonny's, or Woody's in St. Augustine.  All are good, each a little different than the others.  Not impressed with Bono's ribs, but other stuff is good.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Dik, thanks for the attachment. I'm going to keep reading everything I can.  Any of you guys going to be at the BOAF meeting tomorrow?  Wife wants to go have French food tonight... I'll have to break it to her gently that it's bbq at Woodys...   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne...U da man!  Why have foo foo French when you can have BBQ!!

No, wish I could make it to the BOAF meeting.  I work closely with the NE Florida Chapter, particularly on stucco issues.  Dan Arlington, in St. Johns County, has done a good job of getting more recognition for that issue and the lack of awareness of the subcontractors/contractors.

Ron  

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

My 2 cents:

1. In a similar fire repair plan with the information provided I would require the trusses to be replaced.

2. Regarding the 30% rule (807.5.2) requiring the entire structure to be evaluted to the current wind loading, my first reaction is to ask whether the insurance company may reduce the required level of repair if they apply the new 2007 FBC, Existing Building, Ch 3 requirements "Prescriptive Compliance Method" (PCM)instead of the "Work Area Compliance Method" (WACM)(Ch 4 to 12)?

As I understand it, the PCM only requires new, replaced, or repaired components to meet the current code requirements but does not require a general upgrade of the structure. This, of course, assumes that the loading remains unchanged (less than 5% increaase).

This new CH 3 PCM appears to be very generous at first glance, but pherhaps I ma missing something crucial.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Flgulfcoasteng, thanks for the reply.  I love discussing Building Code, and I like that you have knowledge of the code.  

The PCM can not apply to buildings that are substantially damaged (30%) or more, because it is stated under Section 101.5 Exceptions.

Furthermore, in the Commentary for the 2007 Florida Existing Building Code, this is further explained on page 3-1 and 3-2, which I have attached for everyone's review.

Please note that an insurance company has no legal right to interpret the Florida Building Code.  This is also stated under Florida Statute 553.775.

Your last comment was that you thought the PCM was generous at first glance.  I think what might make the difference here are the exceptions.  The exceptions are in 101.5.

I would welcome commentary from other Building Officials on this matter, if any are reading this.  I will also get BOAF's remarks on this and when I get a reply, I will post it.  

Thanks again guys... Ron, Dik... report from the insurance company's hired engineering firm is soon to come.  





 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne... I get a 'blank' when I try to download the page.

Ron will likely have a better handle on this, being familiar with the jurisdiction and relevant codes.

Essentially, any comments from myself would be related to technical opinion and reference material.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Quote:

SUBSTANTIAL STRUCTURAL DAMAGE. A condition where:

1. In any story, the elements of the lateral-force-resisting system, in any direction and taken as a whole, have suffered damage such that the lateral load-carrying capacity has been reduced by more than 20 percent from its pre-damaged condition, or

2. The vertical load-carrying components supporting more than 30 percent of the structure's floor or roof area have suffered a reduction in vertical load-carrying capacity to below 75 percent of the Florida Building Code, Building required strength levels calculated by either the strength or allowable stress method.

I also got a blank on that attachment.  

Wayne, since the trusses carry both lateral and vertical loads, you only have to meet the 20 percent requirement for Substantial Structural Damage.  Further, I'm not sure of you house configuration, but if you have any gabled ends, it will be fairly easy to meet any of the definitions of damage if the diagonal bracing is compromised.

One other provision of the FBCEB is that trusses cannot be altered, notched or cut....the fire has altered and likely notched the trusses.  Must be replaced.
 

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I get the same effect when I scan the obverse side <G>.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
You know, I need to brush up on how to use this site.  Sorry about the attachment. It was a pdf, not sure if that is ok to upload.  Ron - wow, couldn't have done it better myself.  Since, I have over 30% damage, I was referring to that, but you are absolutely dead on correct.  I know the code and love to work with it, but sometimes I lack the finesse in actually explaining it.  This was the case with the insurance adjuster. He just couldn't get it and I think when the reports came, he was overwhelmed and now is looking for sometone to dispute it.  But, we all know the code and in the end, we all live and die by it, right? OK, so my last day to play in DC before I get to work. There's a place called Ben's Chili House.  Apparently, it's all really bad food for ya... and recently visited by the President.  Wife still wants french... chili sounds awfully good...

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne...if you got BBQ last week in St. Augustine, you might be pushing your luck on the foo foo.  As for the chili, if it's bad for ya, it's good!

dik...I've unfortunately scanned blank paper before...I think it was a subtle way of something telling me it matched my brain at the time!

Wayne...the report is going to be an interesting read!  If he agrees with the insurance company he's got professional problems.  If he doesn't agree, he has to do a good job of referencing all the necessary code provisions as to why, just for CYA.  Anyone can have an opinion, but fortunatel or unfortunately, professional opinions have to be founded a bit lower than the stratosphere.  Shouldn't be an issue in Florida...we don't have any "thin air"!!

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I have a County right now that doesn't want to follow code, so they try and go over your head and threaten to drop a contract. What's interesting is, you have to report them. Just better to follow the code, do what is right and move ahead.  Unfortunately, there is always someone out there willing to tell them they don't have to do something.  I won't compromise.  Business however, like politics, is an area where influence is always trying to be used to get something you shouldn't.  I have a Code of Ethics and unfortunately, some designers, architects don't care about the code.  Ok, I'm off the soap box, got a little lightheaded up there.  It was gorgeous today in Maryland. The colors are incredible and rolling hills... why are we in Florida again?

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Ron... how do you think I knew how it was done! <G>

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne, I can relate. I have one where a CBO condemned a newly constructed building based on an engineering analysis.... and didn't require a load test. I pointed out to him that he didn't have a choice...the code says that if analysis finds a building to be structurally deficient, you have to load test it.  The engineer who did the analysis (which I thought was a complete and thorough analysis, it just had some potentially flawed data), recommended that they not do a load test.  Photos at the site during construction showed the suspect members loaded with pallets of block and a loaded forklift sitting on it. Hmmm...seems like if it was so severely deficient it would have at least cracked the concrete!  Load test has now been ordered by the CBO.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
When they try and go over my head, the standard response from the uppers is, "I'm (they) are not the Building Official".  I try and be nice. I even offer to go over it again in person with whomever seems to be giving them wrong information.  I have one "false information" guy who is the one that gives them false hopes. He's a fire guy, and his info is based on fire regulations. We all know that when both codes affect an issue, it's the Florida Building Code that supercedes. Anyway, this is simply part of the job.  I feel like having flash cards printed, so when they ask the same question, I simply flash the card.  Ron, I'll be in Greenbuild 2009 in Phoenix this year. Any chance you'll be going?   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Would love to attend a few conferences; however, my practice is pretty busy and I'm starting to write a book on stucco, as well as being on two ASTM committees.

Next time you're in the Jax area, let me know.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I guess after reading your schedule, I need to stop thinking I'm busy.  Glad to hear the recession has someone busy.  I'll definitely let you know when I'm back in the area.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

and if you think Ron's busy... talk to Jeff!

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Jeff? I don't think I've met someone on here named Jeff yet.  Dik, are you in Florida too?

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

BVWAYNE, thanks for the feedback. I would be interested in hearing what your code commentary says regarding the exceptions under 101.5. I believe every time I get into the EBC I end up with an entirely different interpretation, and I appreciate another set of eyes.

As I understand the exceptions under 101.5, they state that you can use the existing laws from the time of construction (old codes and laws) for alterations unless (1.)there is substantial damage or (2.) there is more than a limited alteration. Therefore, for substantial damage you could not use the "old codes or laws", but may still use any one of the three methods as cited above the exceptions, PCM included.

Good point in noting that the insurance company is not the one with authority to choose the compliance method. I suppose this is more of an academic look at the options. Thanks in advance for any opinions.



 

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne... JAE is another of the oldtimers on this forum...

I am fortunate to live in an area without tornadoes, heat and hurricanes... I live in sunny Winnipeg, Canada. There is some compensation for your terrible climate... we can have clear sunny winter mornings of -40 degrees... but you get used to it. I haven't figgured out why some Canadians winter in Florida <G>.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Not "slammed" busy, just have a quirky schedule that doesn't allow much for travel.

With forensic work, after the evaluation is done, the litigation support is what screws with your schedule.  It's generally an inefficient process where you do preparation work, delays ensue, then you have to go back and do some of the same preparation work again, because it might be 6 months or 2 years between the activities.

dik...assume you're referring to our very sharp corn husking colleague?

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne:
Any news on the reports? Just to let you know that we have a couple of inches of snow and it's snowing fairly solidly... We'll see what the morning brings...

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Dik - you're happy about -40 mornings?  I had considered retiring to Canada, but now, I might just stay in Florida.  Free healthcare isn't worth the -40 in the mornings... I hear it's beautiful and I hope to take the wife on vacation some day.

As for the reports, the engineer will be out on Friday. Report will probably take a week.

You guys will see it right after I do.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Other than a few patches, the snow's melted.  We usually don't get our permanent snowfall until near the end of the month. Just in time for Halloween...

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
flgulfcoast -- I'm pretty clear on the code, so I understand where my case stands.  What exactly are you questioning?  Maybe it's the long drive, and my mind is shot, but I'm not clear on what you're saying exactly. If you're talking about another situation, I'll need some background on it before I give you my opinion.

I have over 30% structural damage = this means that the structure would have to be brought up to CURRENT code, especially since I paid for the code insurance they sold me on ages ago and I'm a person who knows what that means.  

Are you saying that you believe that even if a structure is over 30% damaged, that it only has to be brought up to it's original code?

I refer to the Florida Building Code Comments and ICC commentary for my determinations.  I'm guessing you're in Florida and use the same commentary.  (flgulfcoast...)

I'm definitely interested in where you're going with this, because I fully expect that they are looking for loopholes as we chat on this topic.

Ron - think they'll find any loopholes in the FL Building Code?  



 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Guys, I think I should have taken the wife for French food in St. Augustine... She cornered me into taking her in Manhattan and we ended up at a place called Le Cirque (avoid it guys)... I had 7 courses, about a quarter size each one... and when the bill came, I actually lost my appetite. I believe that enough french food for the next decade.  Headed back to Florida, just past South of the Border.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
I think you're solid under the damage aspect of the code.  As I stated earlier, you have only to meet the 20 percent requirement.

Can they find loopholes? Yes, they'll try.  While certainly open to interpretation, a proper argument will show you're correct.

South of the Border?  At least you're getting back into civilization!!

BBQ beats foo foo every time!  For $20 you can eat enough that you can't even drive home!!

Have a safe trip.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

BVWayne, good afternoon. I think I muddled my opinion in my last post. The underlying message I wanted to illustrate was:

When choosing the compliance method (three to choose from), IF the Prescriptive Compliance Method (Ch 3) was chosen instead of the Work Are Compliance Method (CH 4 to 12) then a complete structural upgrade would NOT be required. The plan could repair or replace the damaged components.

There are no thresholds of work, damage, or alteration limits or levels that I know of within PCM CH 3 that would "trigger" a need to bring the entire structure up to code as there are in WACM CH4 to 12.

Assumptions:
1. Geometry / layout is the same such that existing member loadings do not increase more than 5%
2. Compliance w/ applicable provision of the Florida Fire Prevention Code

For convenience, I have attached a portion of the code I was discussing.

http://files.engineering.com/getfile.aspx?folder=9b037986-9e54-4a28-bbb3-f2cbfba61607&amp;file=EBCDissc.pdf


- Best wishes.
 

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

... Oh, and assuming you are above BFE and we are not discussing FEMA requirements.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

BFE?

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

BFE = Base Flood Elevation

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Thanks... Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Hey guys.  I just don't know what to think. I took the day off and observed the forensic engineer with his assistant, and all I saw them do was map out the trusses.  No other test readings, no moisture meter, NOTHING.  This is frustrating, because I would expect that a forensics guy would utilize more than a digital camera.

Your thoughts?

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

It's difficult to second guess an engineer, sometimes.

It may be that the photographs show all that is needed... Overall condition, best and worst areas affected, separation of truss plates, etc. Might be a 'slam dunk'; I dunno. Have you asked him about other testing or what his opinion is? Is he planning to do other work? I have often measured up a site with the intent of making a second visit to gather additional dimensional information (I sometimes miss critical dimensions) as well as picking up samples and marking the information on a print of a drawing prepared from the initial measurements. It also gives me a second visit to possibly spot something missed earlier.


I'm speaking out of ignorance (in a classic sense). I haven't seen the condition of the trusses or, for that matter, anything. I don't know if the trusses are badly charred or slightly smoke discoloured. From the time and the temperature, I would suspect the former. I don't know if there is any separation of the connection plates or how much. I don't know the effect of the heat on the connection plates over an extended period of time. Lots of things I don't know.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Dik raises some good points; however, I have also seen engineers go into an investigation with pre-conceived notions or opinions, and gathering good data is the least of their intentions.  I don't know if that's the case here, but if you decide to press this issue with litigation, he puts his client in a position of only relying on his opinion rather than having factual data that can easily be obtained by another engineer that could refute his opinion. His answer for not taking the data will be "I didn't need to...I could see that there was no problem".

I would have expected several significant observations, beyond the dimensional, that would allow his client to make a decision.  Those would be depth of charring, connector plate pullout or recession, and drying shrinkage that creates member gaps..  The first requires sampling with a coring tool as Dik described or a plug corer attached to a drill, while the others requires a precision ruler and feeler gauge (like you would use for spark plug gap measurement). I would also pull at least one of the plates to determine the ease of pullout (qualitative assessment, not a pull test) and to see if there was any residual stress in the plate, particularly in the direction opposite its normal force action (showing either plate expansion or wood shrinkage to compromise the plate).

Fire damage can be very concentrated so particular attention needs to be given to the "hot spots", relative to the other areas.  All metals need to be checked, fasteners need to be checked, wood shrinkage, warp, sap bleed, charring, and interaction with sheathing.

Hopefully they did most of these things and will come back to finish, as Dik noted.  The report will certainly be an interesting read!

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I hate to ask but how old was this engineer? Guess will do. From experience you need to have been around the block a few times to know what u need to do at the crime scene. If you haven't had you pants pulled down a few times then you are willing to just use judgement and photos. Probably shouldn't judge him on age alone, but from experience, experience counts.

Arguing with an engineer is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a while you realize that them like it

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I should have been more emphatic than, "Slam dunk. I dunno", and I concur with your comments, thanks Ron. You can never have too much information. Samples can be retained until trial end.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

This may not be applicable in this instance, but, I should have also noted that this is not the time to select on the basis of the lowest tendered price... I'm a firm believer in 'You get what you pay for'.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Thanks guys for the input.  I believe the term forensics should go way beyond visual opinions. I might be wrong, but common sense tells me that forensics has to check for everything.  I do not age discriminate. If anything, I like experience and that comes with age and time in your field. Mapping out the trusses, to me, was not testing.  So, in this process, I feel and am probably right that he will have made a determination, as did the insurance company, that they have been able to repair worse.  So, I am prepared for whatever the forensic engineer comes up with and if necessary will demand that the trusses be tested.  I'm in this til the end, and anyone that wishes to risk their professional reputation on behalf of an insurance company is more than welcome to do so. But, when I make a determination, especially when I'm dealing with the building of schools, I don't cut corners and if I'm wrong, I'd rather err on the side of safety.  Too many in all industries are in it for the short term benefits and they don't realize that we have a code of ethics. Just imagine how many grandmothers have had their fire damaged homes painted and patched, and have no idea that their structure is high risk.  This is Florida. I don't expect much from this report we're all waiting for, but one thing that they should expect is that they better have something more than someone's visual opinion, because forensics should mean testing.  In our profession (Ron you will agree), there is a reason for doing testing, reports and having signed sealed documents from experts in the field.  I wouldn't have sent a sink-hole specialist to access truss damage.  You will have a posted report on here and if it comes back refuting the damage, this posting is going to get real interesting, because I have the time and money to hire experts in this field.  I refuse to allow an insurance company to do to me, what they have continued to do to individuals who do not have our knowledge, or resources to protect ourselves.  Report has been promised by November 1st.  Ron, if you work with any particular attorney specializing in this type of litigation... feel free to refer.  Later guys.
 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne...I certainly agree.

Contact me through Eng-Tips and I'll give you some South Florida attorneys to contact.  I've worked with several in Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Naples, West Palm Beach as well as Central and North Florida.

If you have any problems contacting me through Eng-Tips, post again and I'll post a blind email that you can contact me through and I'll then give you my email address and phone contact.

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Can you post a couple of photographs of the damage. One overall and a closeup of the typical char area?

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

RE...thanks...I forgot about that!

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
I'll attach photos with the reports when I get them from the forensic guy.  I'm confused, what am I supposed to comment on at FAQ592...?  I'm travelling and didn't get a chance to read it. Is this where you usually comment at?

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
That's just a devious way of sending a message to Ron without anybody else seeing it, as he is the author of the FAQ and fields suggestions about it.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Hokie.. thanks.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I often prepare reports and plans for several different insurance companies on fire losses in Central Florida.  I find that some adjusters often under estimate the damage present at a loss.  Fact of the matter is, they retain me to make that decision.  I very rarely get concerns with my reports and recommendations (maybe once or twice out of 100) and I feel that I am pretty conservative.  When it comes to trusses, I can often tell from the ground which ones I want to replace.  Usually I end up in the attic checking 2 or 3 in the transitional areas.  When you are replacing a group of trusses, it is more cost effective (and safe) to replace a bit past the damaged area rather than to perform any other types of tests.  Wait until you see the report from the engineer, you might be pleasantly surprised.
On the other hand, there are a couple of "Forensic Engineers" in this line of work that tend to be pretty bold with what they save.  Before hiring a PA, suggest to the insurance company that you retain a third party engineer.  If you don't have an issue with contents, the PA would only do structure anyway and you would lose a lot of your code upgrade dollars to their commission.  The insurance co. might even pick up the tab on a 3rd party.
On a related note and if I could tap the knowledge and code gurus here...regarding code upgrade, from time to time I get questioned by the contractors when I add steel to unreinforced masonry walls on structures that are substantially damaged (and old!).  My feeling and understanding is that if the structure is pre 80's or 70's (pre-SBC?) and is substantially damaged, it would be difficult (impossible?) to prove that the structure met the code requirements at that time.  Therefore upgrade is required, and continuous load path to the foundation must be provided (i.e: steel).  Everyone seems real quick to jump to upgrade wood framed homes and add straps, but a lot of people seem to get nervous when I ask them to drill some dowels in to the walls.  Is it not the same thing?!?
I'll watch this thread and help if I can.
Scott
www.dbssinc.com
 

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

scottiesei, during many renovations I have detailed added reinforcement to CMU walls. We generally knock out cmu sides, drill and epoxy grout rebar at T&B, plywood form side of CMU, and grout solid. Have never had any negative feedback from the contractors. Obviously easier for monolithic foundations than stemwalls though.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Hey Wayne...what's up?  They should have issued their report by now! Go kick some a$$!

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Wow, I've been gone for a week and am leaving for Green Build this following week, and you're right Ron, where is my report?  Totally dig all the additional comments - I wish I had more time to reply to other postings.  Maybe when I'm back in my own home... Trust me, when this report is given to me (insurance probably already has it) it will be posted for all to see.  As for a third engineer, I'm expecting that already - and as for a PA - I agree, they will get their commission in the end.  What I don't like is being disregarded and I don't like professional reports from extremely qualified engineers, architects and environmental specialists and a County Building Official's findings IGNORED by an insurance company.  Maybe I should ignore their findings when they provide them... this is all a game... and I thought they only did this to elderly widows - looks like even Engineers are expected to accept less than what their policies read.  Report to follow -- Have a great weekend guys... and more comments are ALWAYS welcome.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

A point that I'll reiterate, that is often lost in the technical assessment of fire damage, is the diminution of value of the structure if blackened structural members are left in place.  They must be cleaned to the point that the fire issue is not blatantly obvious or when you sell the property, some uninformed home inspector is going raise big flags and the fight is on.  Be sure you save the final agreed assessment report (not necessarily all the "sausage parts" between).

While the structural replacement might be more obvious and calculable, the replacement for inability to adequately clean the structural members is less so, but nonetheless important.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

For fire remediation, they often rely on treatment and encapsulation of the charred areas to 'eliminate' odours.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Ron wrote, "Hey Wayne...what's up?  They should have issued their report by now! Go kick some a$$!"

Any news?

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Actually, no letter. I'm wondering if the forensic engineer confirmed our previous reports and the insurance company is scrambling.  I sure hope they are fair enough to actually show us the report.

I'm giving them until after Thanksgiving and then I'm going to officially ask for the report.

Thanks.
 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

One thing that bothers me is that much of this is based on the fire department said "the temperature of the interior was 900 degrees". This apparently is based on the experience and the temperatures of the external clothing.

The link between the

Does the external mean "inside the paint"?, which is common term used for property and personal property.

What was the condition of the batt insulation? Surely if it was fiberglass, it would have been melted. If it was blown bulk cellulose, it may still be performing.

That temperature (radiant heat) and any lack of back-up is certainly a big point and easily attacked, especially relating to the interior wood temperatures behind the remains of a surface that still can block the radiant heat.

Perhaps the gypsum board manufactures (damage/duration) have information that the insurance company has discovered.

These cases can get very drawn out without professional engineering and legal advice. I am sure the insurance company has seen many similar situations.

Dick

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Good points.  In fact, that helps, because we do have info from manufacturer and truss specialist. We have worked with only professionals in this matter at a great expense to ascertain what damage we are really looking at. In fact, knowing what I know now, I recommend everyone get their own evaluation.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Ron, got the call from the adjuster and the forensics disagreed with everything, except he agreed the dry-wall in the entire house has to go.  So, we got what we expected out of the insurance guy's report.  How do I communicate with you privately again?  I haven't gotten the actual report, but due to the highly possible future litigation, I'm concerned about posting some docs publicly.

I have all the original reports I'd like to forward for your reference.  I'll be posting for the enjoyment of everyone else that has taken an interest in this subject pics and reports to give you a better idea of what we're dealing with.

If we don't chat until Thanksgiving... May you have a great day.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Pretty much what we expected.  I agree with not posting publicly.

As for contacting me, try the FAQ route as rowing engineer noted above....copy and paste this link or link directly from rowing engineer's post above.

http://www.eng-tips.com/faqs.cfm?fid=162

You should be able to leave a feedback comment to me in which you can leave your contact info...the comments are not public, so no one will see it that way.  I'll call you as soon as I get the feedback.  Post back in this forum when you've left the message and I'll check.

If I don't get it, I'll take another route to get the contact done.

Looking forward to this one.

Thanks,
Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
Can you post some pictures of the damage to your roof trusses?
SS

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Any interesting developments on this?

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Hi Guys,

Got a call from the insurance and the forensic guy they hired of course, did not agree on any of the reports. I got the news on my way up North. I am at a HUD meeting in DC all week and I haven't actually read their report.

It's all going to be interesting Dik, because I'm standing firm on what I believe and especially stand firm on everyone's credentials involved in this matter.

If an insurance company chooses to hire a sinkhole expert to give an opinion on trusses, then maybe I should go to an OBGYN for that tooth ache I have.

More to come.  Hope everyone is enjoying their turkey sandwiches.  

Wayne

 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I won't ask where your mouth has been <G>...

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

First, I guess, it's a matter of determining his credentials. Will the insurance company provide his CV?  The insurance company, by chance, doesn't have the initials SF?

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
The adjuster actually said I could speak with the guy, if I had any questions.  As for initials, I would say that you weren't far off... but, in reality, they are all the same.  I'm still waiting to receive a copy of the report.  More to come.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne,
I'd like to speak with the guy after reading the report!!shadeshappy

Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

A CV generally scopes out the dude's credentials and experience.  Having a copy of this is a bit of a 'heads up' on what you are dealing with... When you are talking to the guy, you might request this...

I've had different experience with different insurance companies. Some clients have been quite unreasonable and in my humble opinion... wrong.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
As soon as I get it, I will share it. As for the guy, I was surprised I was told I could speak with him. I actually liked him and found him quite friendly.  So, lets see what his reasoning is.  

Dik, while my wife is unreasonable and sometimes, wrong... I sincerely doubt I'm wrong on these issues.

They clearly want to minimize their liability.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

It's more than that... every dollar they pay out... is directly out of their profit!

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Dik, it sounds like you're worried about the insurance company's bottom line.  Is your insurance company not charging you enough for your coverage.  I have been a decades long customer with not one claim, not even when a hurricane came.  I had own shingles replaced out of pocket.  But, I'm concerned about making myself whole, or as close to whole as possible on this claim, and you can't tell me that it's ok for the insurance company to come up with excuses, or opinions that are not based on fact or actual testing.  Anyone can render an opinion.  The fact that they are questioning the level status on this claim is directly attributed to the fact that they do not want to repair the damage to meet code.  Insurance companies always watch the bottom line, that's just good business sense, but I believe I am making a resonable claim, backed by professional reports and tests and they are simply being ignored.  

Btw, I have requested the engineer's CV (resume) and more detail will follow...

 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

I'm not worried about the insurance company's bottom line... but, you can bet your last dollar that they are!

I've always advised clients and their customers that no matter who pays for the report, the report would essentially be the same; I don't take sides.

One of the problems with insurance is that their needs are generally different than your needs... you want proper protection... this is contrary to their wanting to maximise profits...

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
That's it exactly. And, I am so busy right now with work on both Coasts that I figure, I'm going to be patient and keep an open mind.  Maybe someone without a dog in this fight can look at it and point out any flaws on either report.  I'm just good at what I know, which is Mechanical Engineering and Florida Building Code.  I just added a HUD certification, and am exploring all avenues (as we all are). My frustration is simply that I can understand they are a business, but you don't tell the cardio-vascular surgeon how to do a mitral valve repair, and they shouldn't be trying to avoid code compliance with a Building Official.  I'm confident that we will get somewhere. I am a firm believer that compromise most of the time gets you more than no compromise.  I have a few people looking at this, and frankly, I think this will serve as a barometer for other's that are not in our industry and it may even interest me in working in the forensics side helping those that have no idea how to get insurance companies to own up to their policies.  

You guys have been great.  I look forward to providing you all the details, along with photos so that this at the very least might be a learning experience, or simply a reason not to work with a particular insurance company.

My thoughts as of late is how all those Katrina victims must have felt trying to defend themselves from these insurance companies.  

Dik, I take your advice to heart and I'm looking forward to getting this guys resume (CV).  Hang in there, more is to come.

Thanks to everyone!

Especially Ron and Dik, for the kindness of your interest.

Have a great day. I'm back on the road...

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Bad day, left computer at office and using wife's computer.  Glad to see this site is easily accessible via web.  Was wondering if maybe more testing of the trusses at this juncture would help?  Any thoughts?  The Forensic guy didn't take any core samples, or do even moisture meter readings, so I thought why not pay to have it tested myself.

Wanted to get some opinions on whether or not to do what he didn't do.

I really think that pink computers are just plain wrong!

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Wayne...moisture content testing at this point would be irrelevant.  Sampling the charred areas for depth of charring will yield some quantitative information on remaining capacity.

The truss plates need to be checked carefully, as this is where you can get a significant capacity reduction, even when the truss materials seem to be relatively unaffected.


Ron

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

YOu should have some wood 'plugs' taken in the areas of worst char along with a plan showing the locations at very least. There are two keys to failure one being the reduction in area and strength and the other being the ineffectiveness of the truss plates. Has the report by your consultant offered additional information than this forum? It would be handy to know so we don't miss this in future (maybe we've done it, but missed it in the discussion).  First and foremost, you have to show that the trusses have been damaged and then you have to show that a significant portion (beyound your code allowance) have been damaged, necessitating replacement.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
The forensic engineer mapped out the trusses, did no other type of inspection other than visual, and his report denied all claims except removal of drywall thoughout the house.  He made it a Level 1, which is so off-base,and I can clearly prove that to be wrong, but what I don't have is that sampling you discussed. I have moisture meetings about 2 weeks after the fire however.  So, now I'm waiting on some opinions from other Engineers as to the lack of teeth on his report and am contemplating sending this to an attorney, for bad faith, as they are disregarding other opinions from experts in the field and even the County Building Official.  

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

How many trusses is he calling to be removed or repaired out of how many total?  Can you provide pictures of trusses that you believe are damaged which he is specifying to remain?  I'm not sure how "bad faith" would apply.  His report is his professional opinion just like the other professionals you mention each have their own opinion.  His report is not, and would not be the basis of any law suit, but would be entered as evidence from the defense if you attempted to sue the insurance company. What type of code upgrades do you feel apply to the restoration?  How old is the home?  Type of construction?  

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Who's forensic engineer... your's or the insurance company's? What was his criteria for having them removed? Moisture contents two weeks after the fire can easily be dismissed... what was the weather in the interim? what was the effect of the water used for knocking the fire down, is the wood hygroscopic?, char hygroscopic?, etc. What info/opinion did your 'expert' offer?  What info can he immediately refute? refute with citations?, etc.

Dik

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Sick today and frankly, your questions are all very relevant. I feel like I should give you guys the report and let you tear it apart.  I'll post pics of the fire this afternoon, as I have a few calls to return this morning, even though, I have taken a sick day.  Thanks guys.

 

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Do you have any pictures of the trusses themselves?

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Yes, I have photos in a pdf that is huge. So, I'll have to scan them individually.  Thank you for your interest. I am looking forward to all the comments.

Wayne

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

PDF995 - A nice small program for whoever wants to create PDF file by just a few clicks. Best of all, it is free from www.pdf995.com.

- Install the downloaded program.
- Open the file, or web document/page you want to save in PDF format.
- Select "File-Print" as usual.
- In the print dialogue box, select PDF995 icon as printer, then "print".
- On the next dialogue box, type file name and select file location, then "Save".

BVWayne:
If you have images on memory chip/hard-drive, you can open the desirable image, save in a PDF with descriptive name. I think there are better programs for mass conversion though. I am in love with PDF995!

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
That's great. I'm definitely going to download that. Been on the road and with the holiday - this has been a nightmare.  For now though, I did try and take some tight pics of some of the trusses I could get to, without bringing more ceiling down.  I want to keep you guys in the loop, so if you have any advice, either way, it is welcomed.  Just a few, as I'm hoping to send a real photog to take better pics. Actually, I'm going to try and take some time to download that software now, and put all the photos together. This is just one... and you'd hate me if I posted them separately.  More to come.

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

Another free nice image viewer is ifranview, it can be download from many sources, just do a word search to get download site. THe beauty of it is it makes tiny email-able slide show, which can be viewed by the recipient without the program.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
ok guys - I had my wife put the photos together and zip it.  I'm going to be on the road again, so I'll be interested in what you guys think about the readings.  Some of the photos, she tells me didn't come out, so forgive the bad images, I will have them deleted.  I apologize for the delay, but there was no Xmas this year in my house... (Hoping you guys had a Happy Holiday, and that your wives didn't burn down the house)...

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

BVWayne -

The length of time this post is being drawn out indicates a definite different of opinions and possible long term contest.

An insurance company does not have to accept every opinion and can outwardly reject any opinions since they probably also have well qualified professional reports from engineers that have a good expert witness record that goes beyond opinions and includes long term experience and documentation.

Codes have little to do this, since the code is only the worst way you can build (not necessarily appropriate) the best way and still be legal and is generally prescriptive in nature and not always based on technology, but tradition and ease of enforcement.

RE: Insurance Company rejects CBO and Structural Engineering Findings

(OP)
Dick,

Many posts ago, you told me to expect this to be long and drawn out... what I'm praying for is that they act in good faith and make me whole again.  what they are trying to do is pay .30 on a dollar using a forensic firm that we have heard hasn't seen a roof yet that needs replacing...

So, I'm seeking advice from guys like you in the know.  I believe in coming to a mutual understanding and would like to discuss it with the company. However, I just got the report and am told that if I disagree with any part of it, that they are going straight to appraisal.  So, I don't even get to discuss it.   

Wayne D. Smith, Jr., CBO, MCP, CEAP, LEED AP

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