We encountered many people through the years with crazy notions about their house being destroyed by blasting. Some truly believe their house would fall down around them and others believe money will start falling from the sky.
We had a situation many years ago when installing waterlines for a new development out on Mormon Mills Road in Marble Falls. There was a local banker, we had never done business with, but our Dad had a long relationship with him. He lived up that direction. I always considered the guy a shyster, but what did I know.
Kenny and I encountered the banker one day when we were getting started. The first words out of his mouth “don’t break my house with that blasting”. He said it in a somewhat joking manner, but knowing the guys reputation we hired a blasting monitoring company to come take readings just to be on the safe side. A blasting monitor comes out and sets up a seismograph machines (a little box with wires attached to a little hockey puck looking thing that sits on the ground) between where the blasting is going to take place and any subject property. In this case it we were a quarter of a mile or more away from the bankers house and the monitors were setup within a couple hundred feet from the blasting area. When we set off the shots there were no discernible vibrations recorded.
A day or so later the banker rolled up in his big Lincoln Continental to let us know we had broken his house. We followed him around to his house to look at what he was calling damage. The house was built on sloping ground with the front of the house being near ground level, but the back of the house was raised 6′ or so off of the ground. A concrete block wall had been used to underpin the structure. There were cracks in concrete blocks where they had shifted.
Not wanting to argue with the banker, we explained that we had monitors setup that recorded the blasts and had the reports showing same. He was somewhat surprised that we had taking those steps, but wouldn’t concede that we hadn’t caused the damage. I suggested that we hire an engineer from Austin come do an evaluation before we got our insurance company involved. He agreed to that. If the engineer told him it wasn’t us, then that would be good enough for him.
The last thing someone needed was insurance claims on blasting insurance. The rates were already out of sight and a claim would hike rates thousands of dollars.
The engineer we had come up was a very recognized structural engineer and happened to own the blast monitoring company. We notified the banker and we all met at his house. This wasn’t the first time this engineer had seen this sort of thing so he came prepared. He had a very good flashlight an other tools of the trade. He had ask us to keep the banker busy while he went about doing his investigation. With everything done, he came around and joined us on the front porch where we were sitting. His findings were that the cracks were caused but a substandard footing that the blocks had been placed on. Furthermore there was evidence that those cracks had been there for a long period of time. This is not what the banker wanted to hear. “How do you know how long they have been there”?
He explained that by looking in the cracks, one could see spiderwebs and other signs that insects had been living there for a long period of time. This was not what the banker wanted to hear. The banker contacted us afterwards saying he wanted our insurance information because he was going forward with a claim. He had brought his own engineer in and there was total disagreement with the engineer we had brought in. “Since y’all hired him, you could have paid him to find in your favor”.
Of course our engineer was rather insulted at the implication. He had high standing in the business and was a UT Engineering Professor and was ready to do battle.
We had no choice but to turn it over to our insurance company. When they got the findings from both engineers, it was obvious that the cracks had been throughly washed out so no remnants of insect life was left when the the bankers engineers had been there. I guess he didn’t realize our engineer had a full compliment of photos that he had made. When both engineers met with the insurance adjuster and laid their facts out, it didn’t take but a few minutes to figure out the banker was committing fraud.
At least on a matter of principle we had done everything possible so our insurance rates didn’t rise and the banker didn’t get a cent. Justice was served, I guess.
I wanted to try to seek legal redress in the courts or at least get the matter looked at by the authorities. I was told that this stuff happens all the time and there was little that could be done. What I found out over the years is it does go on all the time and little is ever done.