I agree with you wholeheartedly - in fact, my comments strongly stated my
opinion, that the abuse on both sides of the line (homeowners against
Insurance adjusters and Adjusters against Homeowners) in my opinion, offset
one another. I represented both sides on a couple hundred or more homes and
multi-residential buildings after the quake and on very rare occasions was
able to find a fair settlement by either side. Owners who wanted to remodel
their homes used the earthquake to seek out engineers willing to inflate the
damage so that they could include a repair claim in the cost of remodel or
in some manner to avoid reassessment by the state on property taxes for
improvements to the site. However, I had clients with real problems that the
insurance companies refused to budge on that were obvious and noticeable
deficiencies which led to serious damage. The insurance companies dragged
the claims out for years in hopes that the owners would break down and
settle for less. In my opinion, one side offset the other and the reported
dollar amount in total claims (as reported by the Allstate Insurance
Disaster Site) is as accurate as we are going to get. As far as claim that
professional fees and construction services were escalated, I did see
examples on construction materials shortly after the event, but as I
recalled, state or city measures were put into place very quickly to fine
those who were found to be extorting the public in this manner.
However, the basic point I was attempting to make was that statistical
studies, on their own merit, have little value unless performed in a purely
scientific manner and subsidized by an unbiased lab. There are concerns with
the manner in which the NAHB-RC's research was performed - again in my
opinion as a layperson of statistical analysis. I do respect Jay Crandells
ability as many times more expert than I but fall short of recognizing how a
random choice of buildings to study in a natural disaster than has so many
variables attached to affect the home that is vulnerable, leave much to be
desired and seems unusually liberal in the interpretation that homes not
damaged were undamaged due to the quality of workmanship.
I believe the engineering community knows enough that workmanship is only
one criteria to ascertain the risk to a structure. The other is a homes
orientation of its major shear resisting system to the direction of force.
In the NAHB-RC's report, many of the homes randomly chosen (and the homes to
adjacent to the chosen home was also investigated) existed on Cul-de-sac's
which changes their orientation based on the radius of the curvature of the
street. Adjacent homes may be too close to suffer significantly different
I am not qualified to rebuke the statistical analysis, and only mention this
as my personal concerns. While I don't believe that this was any attempt to
skew the study, I do feel that by not addressing the damaged homes to
uncover the cause of their damage, the NAHB-RC has failed to seek a
correlation to damage and construction quality or design deficiency. Instead
their results indicate support for the Conventional Construction provisions
as having performed as expected as I believe the reported statistical
studies for the importance of Rho has "skewed" the engineering's communities
impress of the importance of Rho.
This was the only point I was trying to make.
Dennis S. Wish, PE
From: Stanley_P_Johnson(--nospam--at)dot.ca.gov [mailto:Stanley_P_Johnson(--nospam--at)dot.ca.gov]
Sent: Friday, February 09, 2001 8:55 AM
If we had inflated costs due to market stress after Northridge, then we
should expect to have the same market conditions after every similar quake
in the future.
The other thing to keep in mind is that California's buildings haven't had
a really serious test since 1906. Meeting life safety in a Northridge
sized event is not the same as meeting life safety in say an Alaska 1964
sized event or a 1906 sized event.
> The end results was that home performed as expected based
> upon the life safety provisions in the code. The $20-billion in damages
> in Jay's opinion, due to over-inflated claims, inflated-cost of repair
> during a particular supply and demand market - more so the abuses within
> system than an actual representation of the normal cost of repair.