Dealing with Construction Defects

Association of Construction and Development
April 18, 2013 — 1,856 views  

A condition that causes decrease in the value of a common area, a condominium, or a home can be recognized in legal terms as a design, material, or workmanship defect or even a land movement related effect. These construction defects can cause substantial damage to the structure and also to individuals.

Defects related to workmanship, materials, and design include inappropriate security devices and measures, faulty drainage and electrical wiring, insufficient environmental controls, inadequate insulation and insufficient sound protection, improper firewall protection, collapse or failure of structure, seepage of water through windows, sliding doors and roofs, cracks or leaks in slabs, faulty plumbing and mechanical works, substandard materials, inappropriate irrigation and landscaping, and deficiencies in siding and stucco.

Expansive soils, landslides, drainage-related issues, streams, and underground water, settlement, improper compaction, earth movement, and insufficient grading are all defects that are related to land movement.

Types of Construction Defect – Who is Responsible?

Construction defects can be a minor problem at times or even a big structural failure. Defects commonly reported by building owners are lack of adequate moisture proofing that results in leaky interiors, mold and rot, and improper grading which causes water to collect around the structure, and results in foundation cracks, faulty roofing, defective framing, improper ceiling and flooring, and leaking windows.

In many instances, the general contractor does not take the correct steps required to ascertain the appropriate assembly of the components of the building work. For instance, very often sub-contractors skip crucial steps and even make use of sub-standard building materials during construction. In order to deal with these issues effectively, a general contractor is expected to build any residential or commercial structure according to the valid building codes.

In most cases, claims for construction defects are made against the general contractor. This is because the general contractor is usually responsible for all the construction-related work like applying for the building permit, purchasing products, hiring subcontractors, coordinating the work, and finally selling the house to the customer. However, if the general contractor has claims against other parties that were involved, he will have to justify those claims.

Dealing with Construction Defect Claims

In addition to the holder of the property, construction defect claims can also be made by those who are interested in the property, like the homeowners (includes owners of townhomes and condominiums) and tenants associations. Claims can be made directly by these parties. At times, the claim can even take the form of a business dispute.

General contractors should also be aware of the ways in which they can defend themselves when complaints are made against them about the quality of their work. Some common defenses for construction defect claims include Spearin Doctrine, Betterment Doctrine, Spoliation of Evidence, and Exculpatory Provisions.

If subcontractors and general contractors improve their management practices and are cautious about their contracting practices, they can diminish the occurrence of such situations. They can also seek legal advice to be cognizant about risks involved in construction defects and better manage their work.

Association of Construction and Development