Published November 20, 2001
Volume 9, Number 11

The Construction Detectives are on the Case
Walovich + Associates Provide Expert Testimony When Problems Arise
Fred Walovich Construction Detectives
Fred Walovich examines water damage on a patio for a recent case.

By Jay Hipps
Network Editor 

It's an unfortunate fact of life that products don't always match up to a buyer's expectations. When the object in question is a condominium, home, or even an entire subdivision, millions of dollars can be at issue. In those situations, it's of critical importance that the parties engaged in the dispute have an accurate idea of what went wrong, how it occurred, and who is responsible. 

That's the task of Walovich + Associates, an architectural firm that specializes in building investigation related to construction defects and other problems. 

Despite the fact that the firm plays a central role in a contentious situation, CEO Fredrick Walovich, A.I.A., notes that the firm frequently plays a calming role by simply evaluating the facts of the matter. "We look at the conditions, compile the data, and provide expert analysis of what is wrong and how it can be fixed." 

The firm is hired by attorneys representing either the owner, the general contractor, or the developer. Once they're on the case, they document the issues by taking photographs and conducting "destructive testing" of the building -- taking it apart to determine what happened.

It's an interesting process. The firm first visits the site for a preliminary examination of the buildings in question, then submits a proposal to parties on each side of the case outlining the procedures the firm needs to undertake to collect the evidence needed to determine what, if anything, went wrong. 

There are, of course, thousands of things that can go wrong in the construction of a complex object like a house. Windows can be installed incorrectly; foundations can slide on soil. The most common problem, though, is water damage. 

"A building failure often involves water infiltration and damage," explains Walovich. "This can be the result of poor design or poor construction practice, and when both occur, the effect is compounded." 

Once the scope of inspection is agreed upon, a contractor is hired to do the testing. This can involve taking apart siding, windows, roofing, or whatever component of the building is in question. 

The testing is documented with photos and detailed notes of the inspection, the building is closed up, and the analysis begins. 

Their expertise in reading the clues uncovered during this phase helps Walovich + Associates determine whether the contractor, a subcontractor, or even the owner is at fault. The firm's findings are then used as evidence in settling the case. 

"If someone makes a claim, we have to be able to substantiate that claim," adds Walovich. "We identify the responsible parties, determine the degree of exposure for each, and then the attorneys work it out. Our goal is to provide information to our clients and to assist them in settling the case without going to trial." Their services are in high demand. The firm doubled revenue projections for its first year and is on track to double those revenues once again as it nears its second anniversary. Their rapid ramp-up led to their relocation to Hacienda earlier this year, after spending their first year in Oakland. 

The firm is located at 3825 Hopyard Road, Suite 245.


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