Q: What’s a common construction problem that causes someone to call on you for engineering expertise?
STEVE VIANI: I often get involved as an engineering expert when there is a problem, like a defect in construction or a dispute in construction that often involves fire damage, structural issues, hazardous waste remediation, Superfund sites, soils and landslides, and water intrusion.
Q: What licensing and certification do you offer property owners and attorneys involved in a construction dispute?
STEVE VIANI: I’m both a licensed engineer in California, Washington, Arizona, and Hawaii (view links to my engineering licenses) and a licensed contractor in California (view my California contractor’s license), and I can provide a big, complete solution — oftentimes, because I’m so well prepared. I can win or get this resolved at trial or even before the trial. In many cases, we don’t even need to go to trial.
Q: What’s the process like when an attorney hires you?
STEVE VIANI: I start by interviewing the client or the attorney. I also start by looking at the contract and what the documentation is. And then I go through that in detail. It takes time, but it’s always worthwhile to review all of the documentation.
I always advise the attorney of the issues are and possible pitfalls are about the about the problem solution or whatever we have.
Then I formulate some preliminary opinions that I share with my client and come up with an approach to solve the problem. The ability to expertly review both engineering and construction issues, keep the documentation orderly and organized is part of what sets me apart.
Q: What is the importance of communication is helping your clients resolve construction defects and disputes?
STEVE VIANI: Through years of experience, I have developed an understanding of both the construction process and the legal process of resolving construction disputes. That’s where I can serve my client, explain to them because I can explain to them what is going on from the construction side.
Sometimes, if it’s a homeowner, they don’t really understand the construction side of things and certainly homeowners and even contractors don’t always understand the legal side of things and why things are done or proceed the way they do.
And I’m always available throughout the process.
Q: Why is preparation key to winning construction cases?
STEVE VIANI: With my experience in a variety of projects, and being both an engineer and a contractor, I’m uniquely well prepared. And I go into every case prepared to win.
First, I review all the information I become as prepared on the claim or the issue the attorney has brought to me.
I also go in and review the details for myself. I don’t really take anybody’s word for anything. I always check and double check. And then what I do, that makes me unique is I produce, if needed, a set of written opinions that are backed up.
So, when I do go to a deposition, my work is very focused on what I know and what I can prove, and it makes a world a difference. I don’t just sit there and ramble.
Q: What types of construction and engineering issues do you help with?
STEVE VIANI: Issues can range from engineering issues to construction issues, and can cover anything from a water system to a wastewater system, to a landslide, to reconstructing or retaining wall, and geotechnical investigations.
I’ve been involved accident reconstruction, where an accident happened, what do we need to reconstruct this accident so we can demonstrate exactly what happened.
I’ve also been particularly effective in reconstructing houses that have sustained catastrophic fire or flood damage. There are unique issues in dealing with insurance, engineering and construction I’m experienced with.
Q: As an appraiser, what help can you offer a homeowner facing insurance claims issues?
STEVE VIANI: In the insurance area, there is a process called appraisal, and I’m a Certified Property Appraiser & Umpire.
I’m certified by the Insurance Appraisal and Umpire Association, IAUA for short. You can see my official certification at the Insurance Appraisal & Umpire Association site.
Because I have the training to be an appraiser, I can be my client’s advocate in the insurance resolution process. If you have a dispute with an insurance company, they just kind of ignore you and they say, let’s go to the appraiser.
Well, if you don’t have an appraiser, who’s skilled and understands not only the process, but the technical elements, then you can be at a loss. And I believe there are many appraisers who don’t understand them.
Q: What you do to begin work on a construction defect case?
STEVE VIANI: I look at all the data. I look at all the information. I look at the codes, I look at the drawings and I develop a story of what happened and try to allocate the responsibility for the problem. And then, use that as well as an approach of how to repair it, remedy the problem, and then provide a cost estimate for that.
Q: Have you worked on accident reconstructions?
Yes, I’ve helped my clients prevail in a number of cases through accident reconstruction.
In one case, there was a gentleman who was knocked off a truck by a pump. I rented the truck, rented the pump, I fabricated the system and then we tested it and found that, yes, indeed, since there were no witnesses, this indeed could have happened. And we were able to prevail for the client.
Q: What experience do you have with geotechnical investigations?
STEVE VIANI: I was able to perform a geo-technical investigation to show that the construction of a house next door to my client’s had damaged the soil, or loosened the soil.
Using some specialized equipment that I have, I was able to demonstrate that it was indeed loose and had provided little or no support to my client structure causing it to collapse.
The result was a very large settlement for my client. So again, it’s a combination of technical ability, investigation ability, and the ability to review all documentation, to determine who the players and parties are, and ultimately who is responsible.
Q: How do I get started working with you?
STEVE VIANI: Contact me online or call (916) 952-8503 to tell me about the engineering or construction issue you’re facing. Learn more about my extensive qualifications and licensing on my Engineering Expert bio page.
Engineering Expertise & Construction Expert Witness Cases
Steve has acted as a construction expert witness, insurance appraiser and engineering expert in more than 500 cases.
- View recent construction expert cases and engineering expert witness testimony
- Extensive experience with insurance appraisal and construction claim cases
- Landslide repairs and soil investigations
- Construction contracts and dispute resolution
- Engineering litigation support with large databases
- Recent construction defect cases.