Conducting MEP Forensic Failure Investigations

Conducting MEP Forensic Failure Investigations

Houston MEP engineering firm employees assessing blueprints
Detailed forensic failure analyses should be undertaken by an experienced Houston MEP engineering firm.

MEP system malfunctions or failures in commercial buildings can lead to costly insurance claims, and often require a qualified engineering firm to conduct a forensic failure investigation. This process is essential both for resolving insurance claims and for preventing future failures. 

We have 20 years of experience as a Houston MEP engineering firm. Our team of experienced MEP consultants can conduct a comprehensive investigation that meets the stringent requirements of insurance companies. Contact us today to discuss your situation.

What is Investigative Engineering?

Investigative engineering, as applied to forensic failures, is the methodical examination of MEP materials, products, structures, or systems that have failed or malfunctioned. It aims to determine the root cause of the failure and identify any contributing factors. These investigative reports can be used to support legal proceedings or insurance claims.

Choosing the right MEP engineering firm for your Houston investigation is crucial. Look for firms specializing in forensic engineering, with proven expertise in the specific type of system failure you have experienced. Key qualifications and experience to consider include:

  • Professional Engineer licenses in relevant disciplines (mechanical, electrical, etc.)
  • Expertise in relevant codes, standards, and industry practices
  • Experience conducting forensic failure investigations, including evidence collection and analysis
  • Ability to produce clear, concise, and well-supported reports suitable for insurance or legal proceedings
  • Strong communication skills for presenting findings to stakeholders

Common Insurance Claim Requirements

Insurance policies often have specific requirements for forensic investigations, ensuring the process is independent, credible, and meets the standards for claim validation. Some insurance policies may require initiation of the investigation process within a set timeline, or stipulate specific procedures for evidence preservation and chain of custody.

The investigation must be conducted by qualified professional engineers with no vested interest in the outcome. This ensures objectivity and avoids conflicts of interest. The investigating engineers must also be able to demonstrate expertise and knowledge of applicable standards, as required.

Comprehensive reporting and thorough documentation is essential for justifying claim decisions. Insurance companies expect detailed forensic engineering reports that clearly outline the investigation’s scope, methodology, collected evidence, expert analysis, findings, conclusions, and any recommendations. 

Standard Steps and Protocols in MEP Forensic Failure Investigations

While every MEP forensic failure investigation is tailored to the specific incident, investigations generally follow a standardized process.

  1. Preliminary Assessment

Investigators collect initial details on the incident (location, system type, nature of failure) and review pre-existing documentation (design drawings, maintenance history). A preliminary site visit allows for visual inspection of the failure, initial data collection, and hypothesis development.

  1. Detailed Investigation Planning

Early hypotheses on potential causes are refined as more information becomes available. Based on the hypothesis, a detailed investigative plan may be created, outlining any necessary testing, simulations, laboratory analyses, and other specialized expertise needed.

  1. Site Investigation and Evidence Collection

Strict protocols are followed to preserve the integrity of evidence. Collection of materials and components for laboratory analysis is guided by the investigation plan. Visual inspections, measurements, and extensive photographic documentation are often included here.

  1. Data Analysis and Root Cause Determination

Test findings, expert analyses, and collected evidence are thoroughly reviewed. Engineering principles, relevant codes, and simulations are then used to determine the root cause(s) of the failure.

  1. Forensic Engineering Report

Written to the standards required for insurance claims, the final report covers the investigation’s scope, methodologies, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Experienced Houston MEP Engineering Firm – EBE

MEP system failures can be complex and costly. As a Houston MEP engineering firm, EBE can help navigate the aftermath of a system failure with our investigative engineering services. Contact us today for a consultation and learn how our expertise can provide the clear documentation you need for an insurance claim.