Municipal Facility Design Dispute
The following is an excerpt from an Interface Consulting work product issued for use in litigation, arbitration, or mediation (dispute resolution). Names, dates, and other information has been modified for client confidentiality purposes.
Sunshine Valley v. American Drywall Litigation
In 1995, the City of Sunshine Valley, California, began plans to construct a new police station. Sunshine Valley retained United Architects (UA) as the architect to develop a needs assessment and site selection process. After the site was selected, Sunshine Valley purchased the property located at 92402 Blazing Trails Drive, Sunshine Valley, California, in October 1996. Sunshine Valley then entered into an architectural contract with UA/Premier Architects (UA/Premier) on November 7, 1996. As the architect, UA/Premier developed the building schematics, which were expanded to include a municipal court facility. The building schematics included the structural, mechanical, electrical, and civil drawings for the construction of the building. Sunshine Valley contracted with Doyle Engineering, Inc., to evaluate the subsurface soils at the site. UA/Premier entered into contracts with Solid Foundations, Ltd., as the structural engineer, Jamison Engineering Services, as the civil engineer, and Asher & Associates as the mechanical engineer.
Relationship Between the Parties
II. The Dispute
On July 10, 2003, Sunshine Valley filed a lawsuit against ADI and UA/Premier citing breaches of contract and warranties as well as negligence due to the improper design and/or installation of the HVAC system, site preparation work, and construction of the building slab....
III. Summary of Opinions
As a result of the building slab movement and HVAC issues, Sunshine Valley has incurred damages…. Sunshine Valley is entitled to receive between $663,556 and $4,163,556 in compensation for the costs it has already incurred, and will continue to incur, to repair the building foundation and HVAC system. These costs do not include Sunshine Valley’s time spent investigating, identifying, and coordinating the associated work. These costs also do not include legal fees, trial costs, and other future items which are not foreseeable at this time. This total cost should be modified as additional costs are identified.
Total Damages Due Sunshine Valley
IV. Discussion of Opinions
This section contains a detailed discussion of my analysis regarding the design and installation of the building slab and HVAC system as well as ADI and UA/Premier’s performance.
IV.A. Building Slab Issues
The Sunshine Valley Police Station and Municipal Court facility has experienced significant building slab problems since the building was occupied. The building slab has heaved and settled, causing damage to the building’s interior walls, doors, flooring, and exterior brick facade. Jacobs Surveyors, Inc. (Jacobs Surveyors), performed two (2) building slab surveys, one year apart, documenting the movement of the building slab. These surveys documented the elevation changes that have occurred since the building slab was originally cast. The elevation changes appear on the building surveys and indicate at least a 5.5-inch vertical movement of portions of the building slab.
The following photographs illustrate some of the damages the building experienced due to the building slab movement....
Substandard and Improperly Installed Select Fill
Doyle recommended that a slab-on-grade with piers and beams design should be placed on 36 inches of select fill. The select fill would provide resistance to the movement from the underlying natural soil expansion. The Doyle Engineering site survey mandated that any select fill must meet certain soil classifications, plasticity index, and compaction criteria, as shown in the following....
Improper Footing Design
The contract drawings of the foundation footings indicate that the footings were to be placed a minimum of eight (8) feet below the top of the slab and placed in very stiff to hard clay. After the site was identified as having been wooded, the minimum depth of the footings remained as originally designed. The design was not adjusted for the moisture migration inherent on heavily wooded sites
>Footing Depths Relative to Building Slab Movement
Building Slab Conclusions
In summary, the improper selection of the slab design; inadequate classification type, plasticity index, and compaction of the select fill; improper design and installation of the footings; lack of soil retainer boards; and the improper grading of the site drainage contributed to significant building slab movement and the subsequent damage to the interior and exterior of the building. The following graphic illustrates the various effects on the building slab.
Building Slab Movement
IV.B. HVAC Issues
the building was first occupied, Sunshine Valley has encountered problems with controlling temperature and humidity in its building. The inability of the HVAC system to adequately control temperature and humidity contributed to mold growth on the ceiling tiles, walls, and other surfaces as well as condensation forming on metal and glass surfaces, absorbing into the ceiling tiles, and causing the ceiling tiles to sag....
Typical HVAC System Process Utilizing Chilled Water
Failure to Properly Design the HVAC System
Project documentation indicates that the HVAC system was not properly designed. These design flaws included undersized heating coils, omission of a vapor barrier in the attic, and inadequate outside air quantities. These design flaws contributed to Sunshine Valley’s inability to adequately control temperature and humidity....
Summary of HVAC Issues
In summary, the equipment and materials that were not installed in accordance with the contract requirements, the incomplete HVAC work, the improperly installed HVAC equipment, the improperly designed HVAC system, and the lack of adequate Sunshine Valley personnel training contributed to Sunshine Valley’s HVAC problems with controlling temperature and humidity. In the subsequent sections of this Statement of Opinion, Interface Consulting will address the party actions and inactions that caused these HVAC issues....
IV.C. Contractor Performance
As the general contractor, ADI had a duty to ensure that its subcontractor’s equipment and material were procured, installed, and programmed in accordance with the contract requirements. ADI failed to ensure the Sunshine Valley Police Station and Municipal Court facility foundation and HVAC work was performed adequately, correctly, and in a good and workmanlike manner. These numerous problems in the building slab and HVAC system provided by ADI through its subcontractors contributed to Sunshine Valley’s problems with building slab movement, temperature control, and excessive humidity....
IV.D. Architect Performance
As the architect, UA/Premier had a duty to administer the contractor’s work and ensure that the equipment and materials were procured, installed, and programmed in accordance with the contract requirements. UA/Premier also had a contractual duty to ensure the building was designed to provide an adequate facility for Sunshine Valley and was responsible for contracting with the appropriate engineers and providing the proper system requirements....
Damages Due Sunshine Valley
Sunshine Valley has incurred damages as a result of the building slab movement and HVAC problems. Sunshine Valley will incur additional costs repairing the building to prevent further significant slab movement, refitting the HVAC system to adequately control the humidity and temperature, and temporarily providing office space for the employees during construction. The following sections address the damages to date and estimated future costs Sunshine Valley will incur as a result of the defective building systems....
Damages Attributable to Building Slab Issues
Sunshine Valley’s damages relating to the building slab movement include expenses incurred to date and future expenses for adequately repairing or modifying the slab to prevent additional movement. Sunshine Valley is entitled to reimbursement for these costs as a result of ADI and UA/Premier’s actions and inactions. To date, Sunshine Valley has incurred costs to investigate the slab movement and to repair doors, windows, floor tiles, and other items. The following table identifies the $19,322.11 Sunshine Valley has incurred to date from the building slab movement damages and is due reimbursement.
Summary of Sunshine Valley’s Expenses to Date for the Foundation System
The estimated cost for these repairs ranges between $500,000 and $4,000,000. Until further exploratory subsurface investigations are performed, the appropriate repair or system modification cannot be determined. Interface Consulting reserves the right to modify these costs once a more definitive evaluation has been performed. The following table identifies the current and future expenses Sunshine Valley is estimated to incur from the building slab movement.
Summary of Sunshine Valley’s Damages for Foundation System
Damages Attributable to HVAC Issues
To date, Sunshine Valley has incurred costs as a result of the HVAC problems associated with the deficient installation and design. Sunshine Valley is entitled to reimbursement for the repair and replacement costs associated with the deficient, incomplete HVAC system work. Sunshine Valley is also entitled to reimbursement for consulting fees spent investigating and proposing remedies for the HVAC system to obtain adequate temperature and humidity control. Additional damages that Sunshine Valley has incurred include costs for replacing and repairing damaged items and remediating the building as a result of the excessive humidity, condensation, and water leaks from the HVAC system. The following table summarizes Sunshine Valley’s HVAC expenses.
Summary of Sunshine Valley’s Damages for the HVAC System
Temporary Office Facilities
Sunshine Valley will have to relocate its personnel during the foundation repair work. While the duration of the office personnel relocation depends on the extent of foundation repairs required, Interface Consulting has not included the estimated costs to temporarily relocate employees to conduct the necessary operations of a police station and municipal court. The following table summarizes the temporary office facility expenditures that have been and will be incurred until the remediation of the building is complete.
Summary of Sunshine Valley Temporary Office Facility Costs
In summary, Sunshine Valley is entitled to receive between $663,976 to $4,163,976 in compensation for the costs it has incurred to date and will incur to repair the building foundation and HVAC system.
Total Damages Due Sunshine Valley
These costs do not include legal fees, trial costs, and costs for Sunshine Valley personnel, temporary office facilities during the foundation repair work, and other future items which are not foreseeable at this time....