Damage Assessments for Residential and Commercial Structures


Damage Assessments for Residential and Commercial Structures

This book is intended to serve as a comprehensive resource to bridge engineering disciplines
with the building sciences and trades (e.g., carpentry, masonry, HVAC, plumbing,
and wiring disciplines). The blending of these skill sets is necessary to excel in the field
of forensic engineering, particularly for those working for, or in, the insurance industry
assessing claims. Oftentimes those who enter the field are engineers or those with a science
background who lack the knowledge in building sciences, trades, and codes and standards
associated with roofing systems, building envelope systems, carpentry, plumbing,
wiring, and masonry.
In most textbooks, as is true for this one, a book cannot realistically cover an entire
field—in this case the field of forensic engineering. Broadly speaking, forensic engineering
is a subset of the field of forensic sciences and is defined as the field that applies engineering
practices and principles to determine and interpret the causes of damage to, or failure
of, equipment, machines, or structures.

The information provided in this book is primarily limited to forensic engineering associated
with cause and origin determinations associated with claims in the insurance industry.
As such, the focus is on hail and wind damage, water intrusion cause and origin, and
structural failures. Other topics such as ventilation, indoor environmental quality (IEQ),
performing appraisals, and serving as an expert witness are touched upon since those
working for or in the insurance industry will be affected by, and encounter, these topics.
Many engineers, scientists, and insurance claims agents are employed in the business
of attempting to determine the cause (what happened) and the origin (what was the event
that caused something to happen). To answer these questions, an investigation is completed
to determine whether the event is a covered peril. A simple example might be the
failure of a refrigerator waterline to an ice maker that resulted in a water leak, which damaged

the contents and structure of a residence and led to mold growth on surfaces
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