Expert Tells Sid
I WAS called in by a magistrate as a single joint expert in a case, because the ‘experts’ employed by each of the opposing parties totally disagreed over the cause of a complaint in question.
All the parties and I arranged to visit the site together at a designated time to discuss their individual findings and how each had come to their opposing conclusions.
The case involved a maple floor which had cupped badly and expanded dramatically, lifting from the wood subfloor. On arriving on-site I was greeted by the consumer and introduced to the two opposing experts.
I had never heard of either of them, I’d certainly never met them before in my life. One was a surveyor, the other an architect. I politely asked who had commissioned them. Each said it was the opposing solicitors.
I know it is naughty, but whenever I meet so-called ‘experts’ dealing with a complaint, I always ask them stupid questions about wood and see if they spot any of my deliberate mistakes.
For example, I commented on how wood works and neither of the ‘experts’ challenged a word I said. Even when I called the wood flooring Birch, knowing full well that it was Maple, they just nodded and agreed with me.
Expert No.1 (the surveyor) had written in his report that the cause of the wood floor failure was due to a product fault. He described the flooring, which had been dried at the factory, as being ‘very dry’.
I questioned the surveyor on this statement and asked if he knew the average moisture content in wood flooring, because I was not sure. He confidently replied: ‘Oh at least 15-18% for this country.
‘I never knew that,’ I said. ‘You learn something new every day!’.
I then asked the architect why his report indicated that provision for expansion had not been left by the installer.
He said that if the installer had left expansion, then the floor would not have lifted. That is logical, to a certain degree. But why had the floor expanded so much that it had buckled? I asked. To my surprise he admitted, ‘I don’t know. I am not a specialist in wood flooring’.
The surveyor also admitted to me that he never specialised in wood flooring. I then put them out of their misery and told them that their lack of experience was obvious.
I added: ‘You don’t even know the species of the wood. I told you it was Birch. In fact it is Maple.’ Both of them smiled as if to say ‘fair cop’. But how could the matter be resolved?
I said I would start my own inspection and requested that they leave, so I could conduct it undisturbed. Both were very amicable and departed.
Regarding the complaint I found the cause immediately, even before I had entered the premises. There was a major slope towards the building. The block driveway was laid above the airbricks. So when it rained the crawl space filled with water.
I took up the floorboards and found a stream running under the house. It would become a torrent whenever the water table was high. The consumer, who didn’t realise its significance, never mentioned this to the installers.
That is why it is imperative that anything like this must be disclosed at the stage when information is exchanged.
After I submitted my report to the court the findings of the other two ‘experts’ were disregarded, because I had conclusively proved why the floor had failed.
I later learned that the other two so-called ‘experts’ had each charged nearly double my rates, despite not knowing the first thing about wood flooring.
So do be aware that when you commission an expert, make sure that they are worth their salt (and their fee).
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This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.