And we’re back… Time sure flies when you’re doing billable work!

If by any chance you’ve visited lately, you might not have noticed anything new for a period of nearly a year and a half. It isn’t that I didn’t write anything or somehow gave up writing about the latest trends impacting quality and risk management in the built environment. In fact, I’ve written several well-read articles for both the Xpera Group blog and our regular newsletter.

But there hasn’t been any love shown at all for my own site here. The explanation is simple: I’ve been so busy with client-facing billable work that I’ve barely had a moment to spare. Demand for Xpera’s forensic services, in particular, especially relating to complex and high-risk disputes, has been off the charts. There may not be nearly as much construction defect litigation as there was 20 years ago when I entered the industry, but there has been no shortage of claims, with no end in sight.

Now I should clarify that I’m not working 90-hour weeks and throwing out all semblance of work-life balance, or whatever. With my other priorities though, this blog has taken a back seat.

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step

So work has been busy, and now that my three kids are all in secondary school, home life has become even more complicated than ever before. But there’s another area of my life that has taken up whatever remaining free time I might have otherwise had: Karate.

Specifically, about two years ago, I began training in traditional Okinawan Goju Ryu karate under the lineage of Sensei Morio Higaonna. In case you aren’t a martial arts nerd, this is the real deal, old school style of karate that is still practiced in the manner established by none other than Chojun Miyagi, the inspiration for Pat Morita’s character in the Karate Kid.

Training is long, hard and very sweaty. But the results are undeniable. I went from having a heart attack 6 years ago and living a relatively sedentary life, to losing over 40 pounds of fat, while putting on a solid 25 pounds of muscle. Bottom line: I am stronger and healthier than I have been at any point my life, my reflexes are faster, and overall I am more focused and confident.

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Mike Tyson

So whenever I find myself in a contentious mediation or meeting where some expert or attorney is losing their cool, I just have to remind myself that no matter how bad things get, I probably won’t be getting hit in the face during the confrontation. And even if an opposing expert or counsel did try to take a swing, they probably aren’t going to hit as hard as the folks I train and spar with almost daily at the dojo.

What’s the Point?

Here’s some things that I’ve learned over the past 18 months or so since I last updated this site:

  • The design, development and construction of the built environment is more complicated than ever.
  • Emphasis on higher education and a continued prejudice against vocational training and careers in the trades have created a shortage of skilled labor that isn’t just impacting the construction trades, but architecture, engineering and construction management, as well.
  • Nonresidential construction is still really strong, despite the lack of skilled labor.
  • Although the demand for more affordable housing has probably never been higher, economic realities combined with regulatory obstacles means that the residential markets in high-growth regions is constrained by tight profit margins, and short schedules.
  • Delay claims seem to be taking off like never before, but due to insurance coverage issues, they often include claims for defects necessary for triggering coverage on certain policies.
  • The professionals involved in many major delay claims demonstrate an astonishing degree of intellectual dishonesty. With construction defects, there either is evidence backed up by codes/standards, or there isn’t. With delay claims, interpretation of evidence creates an extremely generous range for creative license.
  • Major claims today are won on the document management side. It used to be about whoever has the best documentation wins. Nowadays, every case is so voluminous, that the real key to success is about identifying the 1-5% of the deposited evidence and discovery that actually matters in the most cost-effective way possible.
  • Risk is increasing, not decreasing.

So there you go. That’s what has been going on both in my life and in the A/E/C forensics industry over the past 1-1/2 years.

How’s life treating you?

Image courtesy Honbu Dojo