Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Blog Posts by: Allan Abbata

Author Allan Abbata

Allan_Abbata_WEB

Expertise Includes:

  • Building Foundation Issues
  • Civil/Site Work Evaluation
  • Concrete Systems - Cracks/Settlements/Failures
  • Construction Defects/Claims
  • Storm Water Control
  • Structural Design - Collapse/Failure Analysis
residential-structure-fire-wood

Post-Fire Inspection of Steel, Concrete, Masonry and Wood – Tips for an Insurance Adjuster, Part 2

Author

This is the second part of a 3-Part series to help insurance adjusters during a claim inspection to make a post-fire assessment of a building’s structural framing system.  Part 2 investigates and assesses the future use of common post fire structural framing elements such as steel, concrete, masonry and wood.  These more common structural elements take on different and specific characteristics when they are exposed to a fire.  It’s important for the adjuster to make reasonable, cost saving assessments on what remains, what is to be repaired, what gets demolished and what gets replaced. Read More

Charred-Wood-Structural-Members

Structural Evaluation After a Fire – Post-Fire Tips for an Insurance Adjuster, Part I

Author

This is a 3-Part series to help insurance adjusters during a claim inspection make a post-fire assessment of a building’s structural framing system.  From my numerous case history inspections involving damage to structural framing members after a fire, what appears obvious and straightforward is not always the case.  This article is a quick synopsis to help the adjuster be better prepared for a structural inspection and assessment while understanding what needs to be looked at, and if there are hidden factors to further investigate. Read More

Roof drain with membrane installed in opening.

Water Intrusion/Moisture Issues – Finding the Source and Location

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What you see is not always what you get.  This commonality exists in the numerous cases I have investigated for water intrusion and moisture issues in buildings.  The source that appears most obvious and straightforward may not, in fact, be the root of the problem at all. Read More

Caved-in-roof

Flood Damage versus Water Damage: Water Damage Assessment – Part II

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In the continuation of the series on “Flood Damage versus Water Damage”, we will now focus on cause and effects of water damage to residential and building structures and components.  As discussed before, our goal in this blog series is to accurately and consistently inform the adjuster on what determines flood damage and water damage to homes, buildings and their components.  According to the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) that will depend on a couple of things: 1) What type of insurance did the owner chose to purchase and 2) How did the water enter the residence or building? Read More

Typical-Flooding

Flood Damage versus Water Damage: Flood Damage Assessment – Part I

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Recently, I read an article from the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) explaining the difference between “Flood Damage” and “Water Damage” that really hit home and I wanted to share with you again.  “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop should be there.  With dismay, you discover that your home is filled with damaging water.  Will your insurance policy cover this loss?”   Read More

Structural-Collapse

Collapses of Decks, Balconies and Railings: An Engineer’s Viewpoint for an Adjuster

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Most failures of decks, balconies and railings can be avoidable if properly designed but when a collapse occurs it usually leads to personal injuries and even death. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), “It’s estimated that 2.5 million new or replacement decks were built last year.  Almost every new home being built today includes an elevated deck or porch. And, existing decks on older homes are being replaced at a very high rate. In fact, the number of personal injuries and deaths related to decks each year is likely to continue to rise because more decks are being constructed each year and existing decks are deteriorating.” Let’s examine the design, construction and inspection of these systems. Read More

Foundation issues

Identifying Foundation Issues for Adjusters

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As a structural engineer, I am often called upon to determine the cause of commercial and residential building problems. Common problems I investigate include doors or windows that don’t open properly, cracks in interior and exterior walls, gaps in the trim, leaking roofs when the exterior covering is otherwise in good condition, sloped and out-of-level floors and leaning walls. Many of these problems are a direct result of foundation cracks, settlements and/or failures. Read More

Building Envelope Components

What is a Building Envelope?

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By definition, the building envelope (or building enclosure) is the physical separation between the interior conditioned areas and the exterior environment space of a building. The envelope serves as the outer covering (shell or skin) to help maintain the indoor environment together with the mechanical conditioning systems and to facilitate its climate control. The building envelope must be carefully designed with regard to site specific climate, ventilation, and energy consumption within the structure. The design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice that draws from all areas of building science and indoor climate control. Read More

steel-decking

Metal Decking Provides for Building Stability and Worker Safety

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It’s simple, right?!  Buildings being constructed must maintain a structural stability at all times during the steel erection process. That’s according to OSHA Federal Register Subpart R 1926. OSHA also reminds us that “Since structural collapse is second only to falls as a cause of fatalities in the construction industry, stability is essential to the successful erection of any steel structure, including single- story, multi-story, bridges, etc.” Let’s further examine what goes into the erection and installation practice for roof or floor metal decking as a safe working platform. Read More

An overhead view of a building that lost its roof due to the weight of several inches of snow.

Snow/Ice Accumulation Leads to a Roof Collapse

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During the next several months when temperatures start to fall below the freezing point and winter storms packing cold temperatures, heavy snowfall and ice build-ups bear down on various regions of the country, they can and do bring an assortment of unfavorable conditions that could and will affect your insured’s buildings, businesses, and personnel. Some of these regions have already experienced record-breaking snowfalls and bitter cold temperatures, which in turn have increased the danger of roof or partial roof collapses. Roofs that are properly designed and constructed to applicable codes and standards should be built to withstand loading from snow, drifting snow, water-laden snow and ice build-ups. But are they? Building codes and standards that depict the proper roof loads will vary across the U.S.  They will generally be based on local historical data, including the expected frequency and intensity of these winter storms in a particular region as shown and discussed in ASCE 7-10. Read More

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