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Homes Crumbling from Corrosive Soil Repaired Using Construction Defect Animation

Over twenty years ago, a real estate company constructed new homes in a developing lakeside community, touting lasting quality and value. After only ten years, though, property owners noticed their concrete fences and the bottom of their houses were deteriorating, compromising their structural integrity. The homes they bought with their hard-earned money were unsafe and quickly depreciating.

Seeking help uncovering the cause of their crumbling properties, the homeowners contacted Daniel Rottinghaus and Howard J. Silldorf of BERDING|WEIL. Daniel and Howard retained construction specialists who discovered the surrounding soil had high salt levels. When the foundations’ sponge-like concrete absorbed the moisture from the salt-laden soil, the corrosive minerals permeated through the structures. Then, after the water evaporated, these minerals expanded, weakening the masonry. Additionally, the steel cables embedded into the foundations developed a large amount of rust, creating concern for a potential collapse.

As Daniel and Howard collected their findings, they needed a way to illustrate the problem and the solution to the developers. However, they realized two-dimensional evidence alone would be ineffective in persuading the Defendant to remedy the situation. Thus, they brought on DK Global to collaborate with their engineers and visualize their testimony.
“The initial strategy with this case was with traditional methods. Trying to illustrate – by perhaps a chart – what would be acceptable levels in the soil… And when that really fails to resonate… that’s where we bring in DK Global.” says BERDING|WEIL’s Director of Client Relations, Jill Jackson.

The animation began with an overhead view of the neighborhood plagued by salt-rich soil. Then, the visual showed how salt corroded the concrete walls and homes. A lateral view of the homes’ substructure displayed the post-tension cables riddled with rust. Next, the experts’ solutions to restore the properties were detailed: the concrete walls required a complete overhaul to replace the existing masonry with watertight cement; additionally, the homes’ essential hardware needed to be exposed, coated with epoxy, and filled with a waterproof sealer.

Daniel and Howard shared the animation with the opposing counsel, demonstrating that the developers failed to account for the high soil salinity. They asserted the homes were depreciating rapidly and were dangerous. Shortly after, Daniel and Howard attained a multi-million-dollar settlement to restore the homes’ structural integrity.

Daniel Rottinghaus has continuously been named a “Super Lawyer” for over ten years, representing commercial and residential real estate clients regarding construction defects. Daniel has served as a Special Task Force legal advisor for the U.S. State Department and as a Lead attorney for U.S. Army cases involving multi-billion-dollar Iranian claims, earning him the Department of State “Superior Honor Award” in 1993.

For nearly 30 years, Howard J. Silldorf has represented clients throughout Southern California, recovering more than $200,000,000 for his clients in over 100 cases. Howard has earned the Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Rating of “AV Preeminent” for representing his clients in construction defect cases, a prestigious accomplishment attained by attorneys of the highest level of professional excellence.

"Working with DK Global has been absolutely phenomenal. They understood where we were coming from. It has actually put us on a different level I think than any other firms out there."
Shelby Powell – BERDING|WEIL
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