Forensic / Failure Investigations

Criterium-Williams Engineers performs forensic investigations for interested parties to determine the scope of damage to building systems or components and causation.

Our evaluation and supporting documentation will be organized in a clear and concise report. We are also available to assist in the construction administration of any necessary repair work.

Structural (Foundation & Framing) Failures

Texas has some of the most expansive clay soils in the country. Lightly framed buildings supported by “floating” slab-on-grade foundations are susceptible to soil induced movement and resulting damage when these soils shrink or swell with changes in moisture content. We can evaluate the condition of the foundation and provide repair or maintenance recommendations.

We also have experience evaluating and providing repair recommendations for other common structural failures in light framed buildings including:

  • Load bearing wall/beam failures
  • Truss failures
  • Rot damage
  • Sagging lintels
  • Masonry veneer failures

Enclosure (Roof & Façade) Failures

A building enclosure or envelope consists of all components that make up the boundary layer between the interior and exterior of the building. This includes the building façade (exterior cladding/veneer), windows, doors, and roof. The purpose of the building enclosure is to resist the transfer of air, water, heat, light, and noise between the indoor and outdoor environments. Historically, building enclosure failures account for over half of all construction litigation cases. Moisture intrusion is the most commonfailure mode and can result in catastrophic problems if not discovered and addressed early.

Enclosure failures can result from construction defects (poor workmanship), design deficiencies, material failures, or acts of nature. Performance of the enclosure system can also be impacted by the performance of the building structural and mechanical systems. In this way, enclosure failures are often one of the most difficult building systems to properly diagnose.

Criterium Engineers is a leading building enclosure consultant with experience on a wide variety of projects across the country. We draw on this vast experience and our own understanding of local conditions to successfully evaluate building enclosures and diagnose failures.

Natural Event (Wind/Hail/Water) Damage

Texas is known for its unpredictable weather patterns and recent significant weather events suggest harsher weather patterns may becoming more commonplace. The April 2016 hail storm affecting Bexar County was the single costliest hail event in state history. The Texas Hill Country is known for its flash floods with some of the most devastating flash floods in state history occurring most recently in 2015, 2002, and 1998.

Criterium-Williams Engineers is experienced in assessing and documenting storm damage, however it manifests itself.

Comfort (Temperature & Humidity) Problems

Maintaining a comfortable indoor environment is critical for employee, client, or student satisfaction and performance. Maintaining appropriate indoor environmental conditions is paramount with certain healthcare or process applications. Excessive humidity can wreak havoc on building materials and foster mold growth.

South Texas is known as much for its high humidity as it is its high heat. Tighter building construction and increased levels of ventilation have combined to make modern buildings especially prone to problems with high humidity. As energy codes grow more stringent, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have become increasingly complex and automated often surpassing the capability of even the most adept building engineers.

Indoor environmental failures can result from problems involving either (and sometimes both) the building envelope and HVAC system. Problems can stem from construction defects, design deficiencies, operator error, and/or product failures.

Criterium-Williams Engineers has the experience and skill to properly diagnose and fix occupant comfort problems.