When a home or building has a construction defect, owners need to know construction defect basics. The value of the property may be reduced because of one or more construction defects. Some construction defects are easy to spot, but others aren’t apparent for years after the home or building is constructed.
Construction defects are cased from a range of factors, including poor materials or inferior workmanship. Other defects arise from a constellation of factors, such as:
• Site selection or planning
• Negligent construction
• Civil-structural engineering
• Improper soil preparation or analysis
• Defective construction implements or materials
Common construction defections include dry rot, faulty drainage, mold, water issues, electrical systems, poor drainage, structural failure, HVAC or electrical, landscaping-soil, or structural failure. If you take a construction defect case to court, understanding construction defect basics can help you prove the case.
Patent or Latent Construction Defects
Successful construction defect litigation considers the type of construction defect in the claim. If your construction defect is obvious to most reasonable people, the defect is called a patent defect. If the construction defect isn’t immediately obvious or hidden, or it’s not apparent for years, the defect is called a latent defect.
In a typical construction defects case, expert witnesses testify regarding the specific type of construction defect of the home or property. These expert witnesses must investigate the construction defect, consider its cause, and recommend how to fix or remedy the defects.
Construction Defect Damages
The construction defect case’s resolution and damage award depend on the circumstances and facts of the case. If the construction defense claim is successful, the property or homeowner can recover repair costs and the difference between the home’s devaluation to current market conditions. Other potentially recoverable damages may include:
• Loss of the owner’s ability to use the home or property during repairs
• Costs of temporary lodging
• Court fees and costs and, in some cases, attorney’s fees as per state laws or the construction contract
If personal injury results from the defect or defects, you may be awarded compensation for the damages. Punitive damages may also be considered against the defendant if the court determines their behavior was intentional or reckless.
In most instances, the defendant’s insurer in effect when the construction defect damage was first identified is responsible for payment of the damages to the plaintiff.
Construction Defects Statute of Limitations
If your property or home has construction defects, the time limit to file a lawsuit for your repairs depends on the state in which you live. Some state laws require the individual homeowner or the homeowner association, if any, to communicate with the contractor or developer. Providing notice to the contractor-developer can prompt it to remedy the damage. If putting the developer or notice doesn’t solve the owner’s problems, he or she can file a claim for patent or latent damages.
The shortest statute of limitations is three years from the date of construction defects’ discovery or when the owner should have discovered the construction defect issues. Other states’ statutes of limitations start from the construction completion date of the property.
This article is an introduction to construction defect basics. Construction contracts are complex and the time you have to file a claim against the contractor or developer is limited. If your property has one or more construction defects, it’s important to act as soon as possible. Contact an experienced construction defects law firm to discuss your matter.
Construction Defects Responsibility
In some instances, several parties are responsible for the property owner’s home or building construction defects. The builder may have hired subcontractors to perform parts of the construction.
If the builder or developer used defective materials that were manufactured by another business, the construction defects claim may name these parties.
Designers, architects, landscape contractors, and others may be added as defendants in the construction defects litigation.
Protecting Property from Additional Damage
If you own a home or you’re a member of a homeowner’s association, you’re usually required to protect the home or property from additional damage. Repair costs are potentially recoverable in a lawsuit.
The owner of the property must perform reasonable repairs and routine maintenance before and during the construction defects trial. Failure to perform maintenance and repairs can contribute to or cause added damages. In this scenario, the costs or damages may be offset from the property owner’s damage claim. The defendant’s attorney may argue against the plaintiff via failure to mitigate damages.
In most cases, the property owner is allowed to sell the home or property while the lawsuit is in progress. Most states’ disclosure laws require the owner to disclose the fact that seller and home is involved in a construction defect litigation.
A home or building is an expensive, long-term investment for most individuals. If construction defects are discovered, it’s important to know how and when to pursue legal action against the defendant parties.
Construction Defects, Financial Health and Well-Being
In some cases, contacting the contractor or building or discussing the construction defect resolves the problem. The builder or contractor has a reputation to protect and construction defects aren’t rare. If your contractor or developer used many subcontractors or your property is part of a large project, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to protect your legal rights.
Your property’s value may decline because of construction defects. Some construction defects create health hazards. Water seepage or toxic mold can harm your health and the inhabitants of your home or building. Speak with an experienced construction defect lawyer to protect your physical and financial well-being.
“California Construction Contracts, Defects, and Litigation,” Philip Weverka (2015)
“Florida Construction Defect Litigation 2016,” Gary Brown (2015)