House I built 8 yrs ago caught on fire. Preliminary is that it started in the CB panel.
As the homebuilder can the insurance co. come after me ? Also what do you look for
to tell if the slab can be rebuilt on? Thanks.
Edited 12/8/2003 6:06:29 PM ET by york
Are you a contractor? If so how do you know? (Note - No insult is intended. In many areas people may call themselves a contractor without any training, certification or licensing.) Have you taken any courses or received any training in the trades you worked on? Are you licensed and insured? In all the trades you worked in, particularly electrical work?
Was the job permitted. Was it built as approved by the building department or were changes, particularly in respect to the electrical system, made? If permitted was the job inspected for each phase, particularly the electrical work?
General rule is that anyone can sue anyone. If your insured for the work you did the financial side is likely covered by your insurance.
On the up side:
Has the CB panel been worked on or modified by anyone after your completion? Who did the work? Were they licensed, trained, insured? Was the work, if applicable, permitted and inspected?
Was the house, particularly the electrical panel, properly maintained?
Lots of questions.
> General rule is that anyone can sue anyone.
Yup, so the determining factor is often whether you have deep enough pockets to be worth it.
I was the general contractor. The electrician who did the work is licensed. The building inspector from the bldg dept did a electrical inspection. The current occupants are the second owners of the house. So I have no idea if any work was performed on the system. During the warranty period there were no callbacks on the electrical system. I called the fire marshall who did the post fire insp and he said the investigation is still open. He also said they may never know the cause.
Seeing as that the electrical job was done by a licensed electrical contractor and was inspected I think your pretty well protected. I wouldn't worry too much.
They could still sue, the ability to sue doesn't assume a successful outcome or any settlement for the person suing, but I think your about as well protected as you can be. Likely any negative settlement would be handled by your insurance. Seems, IMHO, to be pretty unlikely for you see any negative fallout. Stuff happens. That is why you have insurance if it should go against you.
"can the insurance co. come after me?"
Sure. But is it likely? I don't think so, unless there was something definitive and agregess (sp?). For instance: Al wire but the C/B not rated for Cu/Al. Even charred remains of that oversight would remain and determine blame.
But was it an undertightened terminal? Or a C/B that developed a fault? Did the current homeowner run their hand down the panel to check for a hot C/B on a regular basis? It should be done, even if most people don't (check C/Bs, clear brush, test GFCIs, clean gutters, etc).
You are also, likely, not a "deep pocket" from the insurance company's perspective. And they have limited abilities and willingness to investigate every little house fire. It is easier to raise everyone's premium another $0.003. I see them settling even on pretty obvious cases of the building owner committing arson. They investigate but without a "prepondance of evidence" could they prevail?
"Also what do you look for to tell if the slab can be rebuilt on?"
This was discussed at some length about 2-3 months ago. Try searching the archives.
>> agregess (sp?)
Since you asked, egregious. From Latin ex gregare, outside the herd. Gregare is also the root of gregarious. And aggregate.
you should not be held liable if everything passed inspection for the origional occupancy permit. was there some kind of home inspection done before the sale to the current homeowners?
That's a good question. I don't know if there was an pre-buy done buy the second owner. I read were a lot of house fires are caused buy cigarettes and extension cords. In the case of extension cords and overloading a circuit why wouldn't the CB trip?
many things can happen from a waterleak to a bad breaker. how is the connection to the house made? is it pipe or s-e cable?
i used to do insurance claims as an adjuster and unless something was very wrong they just paid the bill per their contract with the insured. sometimes if things just didn't look right they would call in a forensic inspector and this could range anywhere from another electrician to an engineering firm.
if the products were u-l listed and the job was done by a professional you shouldn't worry too much.
do you have any contact with the homeowners there now? you might want to suggest to them hiring and independent adjuster to make sure they get paid fairly.the adjuster is not there to look for blame but to act as an agent for the insured. some companies try to cheap out on paying what is fair. this happens more with automobile claims than homeowner claims.