Forensic Investigation

Getting to the Heart of Building Failure


Forensic Investigation is the art of using the latest achievements in science and technology as tools to discover, assess and establish facts and evidence to support anticipated legal proceedings.

Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C. applies all available information, tools, and our experience to help our clients, who include building owners, developers, attorneys, coop boards and contractors, to determine the source and root of the problems, the sequence of events leading to, and the ultimate trigger for failure of various components of a building. Reasons vary from incomplete design and improper construction practices to poor coordination and material failure under unusual circumstances.

Analysis and Evaluation

Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C.'s methods incorporate invasive and non-invasive inspections throughout the building as well as extensive photographic documentation, thorough testing and analysis of materials and monitoring of existing conditions. We search for and review all available drawings and documentation pertaining to the job, and, in many cases, this helps to pinpoint possible trouble spots. We review all applicable building codes and regulations with respect to compliance with current governmental standards as well as industry standards at date of application. In addition, we are often called upon to review offering plans and amendments to verify what was promised and what was actually delivered. Our team often interviews all involved parties to obtain a clear picture of events before, during and after construction.

These investigative steps enable us to locate the source and cause of deterioration or failure with respect to the conflict or dispute. The cause may be examined to establish if failure was due to weather, age, inferior repair, improper material specification, or a combination of these factors and confirm if the work has been executed properly according to previous designers’ specifications.

HLZA has earned a strong reputation in our own profession through our building envelope analysis and evaluation, code analysis, interpretation and compliance review and audit services. We also serve as a resource to our clients on construction defect litigation, with special attention to preservation of technical evidence. In some cases, we provide expert witness testimony.

Extending the Life of Your Asset

Another critical component of Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C.’s investigative methodology is providing building owners with highly specific information about his or her property. This enables owners to prevent or significantly reduce the possibility of future failure and it facilitates informed decision-making that saves time and money and enhances the long-term life of the asset.