Quality Assurance (QA) has been one of Xpera’s signature service offerings for nearly a decade. The service itself actually pre-dates the formation of Xpera, going back 20 years, under the leadership of Director of Quality Assurance John Kyrklund.
Kyrklund was formerly with Roel Consulting Group, which Xpera acquired in 2012. He and his team have set the standard for the industry, with a proven and trusted approach to QA/QC that is based on decades of real-world construction experience. Their mission: ensuring that every project achieves excellence. They empower builders to build even better.
To understand what sets Xpera’s QA services apart, it is helpful to have some historical context and understanding of SB800 and California Civil Code 43.99.
On January 1, 2003, California enacted SB800, also known as the Right to Repair Act, which represented a major milestone in the way construction defect litigation was viewed. The law specified homeowners’ rights and requirements to bring construction defect actions against builders. There was also a component of the bill that addressed the third-party QA process.
At that time, there was a “hard market” for insurance. Due to so many large settlements, carriers were reluctant to underwrite projects without assurances that their policies were protected in some way. In fact, the market was so restrictive that many carriers stopped writing policies altogether, which greatly reduced the options builders had to secure coverage for their projects. Many of the carriers that continued to offer policies mandated that builders engage with a third-party QA company as a condition of coverage.
While this represented new opportunities for QA vendors to provide a much-needed service to both builders and insurance carriers, it also opened them to potential liability, as they could be named as claimants in any construction defect litigation suits.
Initially, SB800 addressed this issue with language that provided limited immunity to the third-party QA provider, protecting them from individual lawsuits from each member of an HOA filing a claim against the builder. This meant that the QA vendor would be contractually liable to the builder only for negligence and willful misconduct. When SB800 was passed by the State legislature, this section for limited immunity was carved out from the bill and placed under Civil Code 43.99.
The code stipulates that in order for QA providers to receive limited immunity, they must meet specific criteria, including:
- Have at least five years of verifiable experience in the field
- Have obtained certification from the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), or be a registered professional engineer, licensed general contractor or licensed architect working within the scope of that registration/licensure
- Maintain professional errors and omissions insurance coverage in an amount not less than $2 million
The code’s immunity language also specifies that information contained in reports generated by a qualified QA vendor may not be used as evidence in construction defect litigation. If the third-party vendor fails to meet the qualifications outlined above, there is no limited immunity protection. This poses a great risk, as the builder’s documentation is no longer protected as evidence in defect litigation.
This law has been on the books in California for nearly 20 years, and firms with a long history providing third-party QA services, like Xpera, are well aware of the requirements. Yet, even now, we find some builders and newer QA vendors are not aware of the law’s requirements and may be putting both of their companies at risk.
“All of Xpera’s QA inspectors meet the qualifications of Civil Code 43.99 and that is tremendously important,” said Xpera President Steve Grimes. “If you are a builder and your inspections were conducted by someone who failed to meet the state requirements, you lose the protections the law provides in terms of the admissibility of the QA company’s reports. Longevity is also key in ensuring you are working with a proven, trustworthy partner for something as critical to the success of your business as quality assurance.”
As a precaution, Grimes recommends reading through the code’s language (it is only two pages) to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements and be sure to ask potential providers the questions necessary to reduce future risk.
Xpera’s QA services have been vetted and approved by major insurance carriers and are trusted by some of the nation’s most respected developers. Over the past 20 years, we have provided third-party plan reviews, constructability analyses and site inspections for thousands of new homes in California and beyond.
At the heart of our Xpera’s QA program is our proprietary InSpec® documentation system, which allows inspections to be performed, tracked, documented (in writing and with photos), analyzed and shared entirely in the field in real-time. The result is a smarter, more efficient process in which issues can be addressed immediately, saving time and cost throughout the project.
Our QA team performs inspections on both detached homes and multi- family buildings, including foundations; windows; exterior pre-lath; interior mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEPS); lath roofing; drywall; stucco; and interior and exterior final inspections.
“Our people, our systems, our attention to detail and our vast industry knowledge are all part of what sets Xpera apart from other inspection firms,” said Kyrklund. “We are also able to draw from our team’s deep experience in construction forensics, which has exposed us to nearly every type of design and construction problem out there, including some of the more hard-to- detect issues that can lead to expensive repairs or even potential litigation down the line. All of this allows us to provide our builder clients with best- in-class expertise and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that rigorous building standards have been met at every step of the process.”
As building codes evolve and expand, Xpera’s QA team is equipped to help builders with other testing and evaluation needs, including HERS inspections; Title 24 compliance analysis; documentation for EnergyStar, LEED, CAHP and NSHP programs; as well as field verification and diagnostic testing.
If there is one thing we have learned over the years, it is that quality construction does not happen by accident. It takes a talented team – with a second set of expertly trained eyes – that builders can trust to ensure that their quality standards are achieved. And that is what we do best.