Case Study: Construction Cost Estimate for Water Damage in Condo

The Problem

This project concerned water-related damages to a unit in a low-rise condominium building in Encino, CA. One morning, a second-floor resident, the Plaintiff, heard noises from upstairs that sounded like someone was working on the plumbing system. That evening, the downstairs neighbor, informed the Plaintiff that water was coming through the ceiling and dripping down the chandelier in the lower unit. The Plaintiff then noticed water gushing from her own sink and spreading into the kitchen, dining and living rooms. The resident on the third floor (Defendant) in the apartment directly above the Plaintiff’s had hired a plumber to clear a clog in the pipes. The plumber used a device that forced highly pressurized water through the pipe which, in turn, caused the Plaintiff’s pipe to burst. After the incident, the Plaintiff hired an “Expert” who estimated the cost of repair for the damages at over $170,000.

The Solution

PFCS was hired by the Defendant to conduct a site inspection at the Plaintiff’s apartment and deliver our own cost-of-repair estimate for the damages observed. During our inspection, we learned that the Plaintiff’s Expert had considerably overestimated the cost of certain items, including cabinets, flooring and content storage. We delivered an inspection summary of the damages caused by the water event and a corresponding estimate totaling around $45,000. The case went to trial and due to our Expert witness testimony, the Plaintiff was only awarded about $46,000 for construction-related damages and another $14,000 for non-construction-related issues. The Plaintiff was awarded a total of $60,000; Over $100,000 less than what was originally proposed. The jury found that our estimate reflected what the Plaintiff had already been paid and would be a sufficient amount to address the damages.