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  1. #1
    siw Guest

    Property damage caused by blasting

    What is the name of your state?
    New Hampshire

    We installed an in-ground pool this summer and a new cement patio around it. Blasting for new construction in our neighborhood caused cracks to the patio. We had the damage examined by a concrete company and they said that the damage was not common and looked like it was caused by movement underneath. They also suggested that there may be hidden damage to the pool that we may not be aware of now but could later show up in the form of leaks and cracks under the pool liner. The blasting company sent out an inspector and he naturally said that the damage was not caused by them. Would you recommend hiring an attorney to sue for damages or should I try to go through their insurance company on my own?
  2. #2
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Property damage caused by blasting

    Originally posted by siw
    What is the name of your state?
    New Hampshire

    We installed an in-ground pool this summer and a new cement patio around it. Blasting for new construction in our neighborhood caused cracks to the patio. We had the damage examined by a concrete company and they said that the damage was not common and looked like it was caused by movement underneath. They also suggested that there may be hidden damage to the pool that we may not be aware of now but could later show up in the form of leaks and cracks under the pool liner. The blasting company sent out an inspector and he naturally said that the damage was not caused by them. Would you recommend hiring an attorney to sue for damages or should I try to go through their insurance company on my own?
    **A: yes, hire a construction attorney who will in turn hire an engineer. Then go after the contractor/developer.
    Last edited by HomeGuru; 10-07-2003 at 10:13 AM.
  3. #3
    lwpat is offline Senior Member
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    "Blasting for new construction in our neighborhood caused cracks to the patio."

    Nothing in your post indicates that the blasting actually caused the damage. Concrete cracks, especially if it not poured correctly and with the proper expansion joints. My driveway is testimony.

    "The blasting company sent out an inspector and he naturally said that the damage was not caused by them."

    Was this an independent engineering firm that did the inspection, a representative of the blasting company, or a representative of their insurance carrier? Did they send you a letter denying your claim?

    "looked like it was caused by movement underneath."

    The usual cause of this is poor backfill by the pool contractor and the resulting settlement. Contact the pool contractor and demand that he correct the defective work since it should still be within the warranty period.

    When did the cracks occur in relationship to the blasting? How close to the patio was the nearest blast and what type of construction was being performed.

    Blasting is a very tightly regulated industry and blasting will not cause the damage you described if performed in accordance with those regulations. For example the blasting company should have been monitoring the blasts with a seismograph. If this was done and the recorded vibration levels were below 2.0 ips at your patio then the blasting could not have caused the damage.

    Another option would be to file a damage claim with your homeowner's insurance and let them sort it out.
  4. #4
    siw Guest
    Our house shook from the blast. At first, I thought it was an earthquake but remembered the construction nearby. There were no cracks in the cement the day before the blasting, but there were cracks the day after the blasting. There is often blasting in this area due to ledge but this is the first time we felt movement from it. The blasting is being done in a new housing development about 300-400 yard away.

    The inspector sent out was from a place called "Realty Inspections" and they were sent out by the blasting company so I believe that they represent them. Although this inspector said that the report would be complete in a couple of days, he sent the report to the blasting company and not to us. We have not seen a copy of the report.

    When I asked the blasting company for a copy of the seismograph reading, they refused. I also asked for a copy of the inspection report, was told that they would send it, but never received it.

    If the patio was more than 2 months old, I would probably agree that it was the fault of the pool company. According to the cement people that I had examine the patio, the cracks are not consistent with cracks that often occur due to settling.

    I feel confident that the damage was caused by the blasting company. I just don't want to end up paying out of my pocket to have it fixed and don't want to put a claim through my homeowners because too many people that we know have their rates will go up or their insurance is dropped after making a big claim.
  5. #5
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    So did you hire your attorney yet?
  6. #6
    siw Guest
    I have not hired an attorney yet. In the meantime, I received a call this morning from an individual hired by the blasting company's insurance carrier to see the damage. We scheduled an appointment for this Saturday. Blasting permits are issued in our town by the Fire Chief so I called him yesterday and explained to him the I felt it necessary to hire an attorney and asked him for the name of the blasting company's insurance carrier. He said that he would look up the info and call me back but did not. He must have called the blasting company instead to tell them what I told him and now they seem to be taking the situation more seriously.
  7. #7
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Ok, that is good news. Stay on top of things.
  8. #8
    lwpat is offline Senior Member
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    "There were no cracks in the cement the day before the blasting, but there were cracks the day after the blasting."

    This would be consistent with blasting damage. In blasting damage occurs immediately.

    "We have not seen a copy of the report."

    If the blasting company paid for the report they are not obligated to share it with you. However if it said the blasting did not cause the damage then they have no reason not send it. Of course your attorney can obtain a copy during discovery. The same is true for the seismograph reports and blast reports.

    "If the patio was more than 2 months old, I would probably agree that it was the fault of the pool company."

    I disagree. Cracking and initial settlement will usually occur in the first ninety days. The fact that it was new construction is what led me to believe it could be faulty workmanship rather than blasting damage. Settlement does occur over time and can be the result of unstable soils, drought, and other factors. However it is usually fairly easy to determine if cracks are recent in existing structures.

    "The blasting is being done in a new housing development about 300-400 yard away."

    This is a significant distance and the blaster would have to be negligent to cause damage. It would be necessary to examine the blast and seismograph report for the day in question in order to make any determination. If they are required to have a permit they may also be required to furnish the Fire Marshall copies of the reports. At that point they would become public documents.
  9. #9
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Writer, keep us posted.
  10. #10
    siw Guest
    Last Saturday, an inspector hired by the blasting company's insurance company came out to our house. As we expected, he said that he thought that the damage was not caused by blasting. He did say though that at that point he had not studied the documentation related to the blast provided to him by the blasting company. One thing I did notice though is that the time of the blast according to the blasting company's records was about 30 minutes prior to the blast that I heard and felt. When I questioned this, he said that the time stamp is sometimes inaccurate as it could be no a PC when the battery is low. This makes me think that other readings could be inaccurate. He wanted to talk to both the pool company and the concrete company that we used to get some specs from them. I wrote the info down for him but found the paper with those names and phone numbers on my driveway when I went out later. This also made me curious. Since Monday was a holiday here I am giving the insurance company until next Monday to contact me. I'm planning, however, to hire an attorney and start taking action right after that.

    Any recommendations on how to handle this further are greatly appreciated.
  11. #11
    lwpat is offline Senior Member
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    You need a professional engineer to examine the damage and make a determination as to the cause of the cracking. Have you checked with the Fire Marshal to find out if they have to file blast reports so you can have them examined by your engineer?

    He should core the concrete to test if the soil underneath was properly compacted and if the concrete was of the proper strength and thickness.

    I still would recommend filing with your homeowner's insurance. It would be better if they handled the expense of an expert and the attorney.
  12. #12
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Writer, keep us posted. Did you contact your insurance company yet?
    Last edited by HomeGuru; 10-23-2003 at 10:10 AM.
  13. #13
    siw Guest
    We still have not heard back from the inspector sent out on Oct. 11. We are going to give him until the end of this week (that would be 2 weeks since he was here) to get back to us. After that, we will call the fire chief to get a copy of the reports and then file suit. I have started to call structural engineers to find one to hire to check the damage also. We also now have found a crack in the sheetrock in our finished basement. I'll update as more happens.
  14. #14
    HomeGuru is offline Senior Member
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    Originally posted by siw
    We still have not heard back from the inspector sent out on Oct. 11. We are going to give him until the end of this week (that would be 2 weeks since he was here) to get back to us. After that, we will call the fire chief to get a copy of the reports and then file suit. I have started to call structural engineers to find one to hire to check the damage also. We also now have found a crack in the sheetrock in our finished basement. I'll update as more happens.
    **A: if the blasting is continuing, the sooner you hire the engineer, the sooner an inspection can be conducted and crack gauges installed to monitor further problems.
  15. #15
    lwpat is offline Senior Member
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    Could you give us an update?

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