Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Private Landowner Site Visit

M&A recently posted on its blog the importance of conducting a site visit and what to expect once onsite. Here I share my recent experience at a site visit to provide perspective on what it is often like to attend a site visit with a private landowner. I conducted the site visit for a local attorney representing the landowner to assess whether water intrusion into the basement of a home was potentially related to construction activities associated with a nearby sewer line installation. My objective was to assist the attorney in determining whether he should proceed with filing a lawsuit for damages to the property.

In Advance

To prepare, I reviewed case materials provided by the attorney and studied the property and surrounding lands using online aerial photos.  I also spoke with the attorney before the visit to gather any additional details and was informed that the homeowner would be present and would expect to be involved in my assessment.

The Visit

Upon arriving onsite it was clear to me that the homeowner was fully invested in the matter and eager to see me. I spent the first hour of the visit letting the owner voice his concerns while leading a tour of his property, his home from the exterior, and the surrounding properties. In this case it was evident that it was best to let the owner speak his mind and explain the issues from his point of view. After touring the site for approximately an hour I conducted a formal interview of the owner to gather relevant details related to the locations and timing of water intrusion, the extent of nearby construction activities and his assessment of damage to the property. I then explored the property and surrounding area on my own, taking notes and photographing my observations. Prior to leaving, I asked the property owner to provide any additional information he wanted me to know. The site visit took a total of approximately three hours and I gained valuable insight into the issues and potential difficulties of filing a lawsuit against the construction company.

Post-Visit Tasks 

Upon returning to the office, I typed up my notes and labeled my photographs. After reviewing my notes and pictures, I wrote a formal memo to the lawyer containing my preliminary assessment of the situation as it related to the causes of water intrusion. This site visit is an example of a landowner interaction and as this blog progresses we will be sharing other site visit experiences.

Submitted by Eric Chase, P.G.

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