Architect Expert Witness

by | Last updated Jun 23, 2020 | Architects

Being an Architect Expert Witness goes beyond just testifying in court. A good expert witness assists in research and investigation of the architectural issues in the case. Additionally an expert witness can listen to all testimony from the opposing side and help in cross examination. Of course the architect expert witness will testify and prepare an affidavit.


I am Jorge Fontan AIA a registered architect in the State Of New York, and I recently consulted on a court case. I am going to discus a few details here and generally explain how I helped in getting this case “dismissed with prejudice” by the judge. The side I was working for was very happy with the results.


Architect Expert Witness Services

Here is a list of services I was to provide on this case. We got the case dismissed so I actually never got to testify but assisted in getting the case dismissed.

  • Case Research
    • Review Architectural Plans and documents
    • Pull and research DOB Records
    • Review Backgrounds on opposing side’s expert witness, architects and engineers
  • Prepare Affidavit Of Assessment
  • Sit present for all testimony by opposing side
    • Verify all technical testimony
    • Assist Lawyer in preparing for cross examination
  • Testify In Court on Assessment


Architect Expert Witness Research

I was hired to consult on a case where a landlord was claiming his property was no longer rent stabilized and increased the rent on the property. The tenant refused to pay the increase and the landlord sued the tenant. I was hired by the tenant’s attorney to consult and appear as their expert witness. We eventually got the judge to “dismiss the case with prejudice” and the Judge stated the property is still subject to rent control. This was a big win for our side and my client was very happy with the results.I believe the most important factor I played in the win was the research we provided.

First we researched the project I reviewed all plans and documents. We pulled Department Of Buildings records and reviewed everything. We then researched the other sides Engineer. I discovered that the Engineer who originally filed this job had been subject to disciplinary actions by the Department Of Buildings. He also had been involved in several lawsuits on properties he worked on.

The lawyer I was working for used this information to attack the credibility of the Engineer. The judge himself even questioned the Engineers Credibility.

We also discovered during the research phase that the work had been filed incorrectly. It was filed as an Alt 2 instead of an Alt 1. The Alt 2 vs Alt 1 issue in NYC is a big deal.


Architectural Affidavit By Expert Witness

Before we appeared in court I prepared an Affidavit assessing the issues at hand. I outlined that the Professional Engineer had filed the work incorrectly which would negate their ability to deregulate it as rent stabilized. I indicated code that would prove some of the “bedrooms” created by the landlord where actually illegal and did not fulfill the Building Code requirements for a Bedroom.  Additionally we provided information on the opposing side to assist in disproving their credibility specifically the Engineers history of misconduct and disciplinary actions brought against him in previous cases.

The affidavit was submitted to the judge before the case began. He even mentioned having read it at one point during the trial.


Architect Expert Witness Review Testimony

As the Architectural Expert witness one of the most important services was to sit present for the entire trial. I listened to all testimony and evidence presented by the other side. The lawyer I was working for would request a recess before his cross examination at which point we would discuss the testimony. I helped him point out and lies told about building codes or DOB procedures. This went a long way in not only discrediting the other side but also proving our point.


Eventually the Judge dismissed this case and our side took that as a big win. 


Thank you for reading about me being an Architect Expert Witness.

We wish you the best of luck with your upcoming court cases. Please feel free to leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss your case with an architect you can contact us directly.


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Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.