What is a Construction Defect and Are You Liable For It?

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A construction defect can be a design flaw, workmanship fault, or issues in the materials used for a construction project. Construction defects can lead to structural failures, jeopardizing building users’ safety. Architects, designers, builders, material manufacturers, contractors, and subcontractors can be held liable for construction defects.

Patent Vs. Latent Construction Defects

Construction defects fall into two categories – patent and latent. A patent construction defect is an obvious problem, such as a crack in the foundation. Conversely, a latent construction defect is not noticeable or discovered until long after the project is completed. Some examples of latent construction defects include misplaced or poorly assembled reinforcement, faulty foundation design, defective waterproofing, and failure to install wall ties.

Standard of Care Defined

Every professional working on a construction project must perform their contractual obligations. They are responsible for ensuring that work is performed following acceptable workmanship standards and meets standards and specifications set by contract documents.

Types of Construction Defects

There are mainly six types of construction defects – material deficiencies, design deficiencies, construction deficiencies, workmanship deficiencies, subsurface deficiencies, and operational and maintenance deficiencies.

➢ Material Deficiencies: These arise due to damaged or wrong materials. These deficiencies are usually very expensive to fix. Some common examples of material deficiencies include bent window frames, poor-quality roofing shingles, and deteriorating flashing.

➢ Design Deficiencies: These occur when design professionals make mistakes while designing building systems and buildings. Some common examples include flawed roof designs, poor drainage, or inadequate structural support.

➢ Construction Deficiencies: These typically result from defective or faulty workmanship. A common construction deficiency is improper/bad plumbing work, which can result in flooding, mold growth, and even foundation damage.

➢ Workmanship Deficiencies: A workmanship deficiency occurs when a contractor fails to build a part or structure in accordance with the applicable standards. Workmanship deficiencies include aesthetic issues and structural integrity issues. It can be very challenging to determine who is responsible for a workmanship deficiency.

➢ Subsurface Deficiencies: Many states in the country have expansive soil that contains clay minerals, making it prone to expansion or contraction due to temperature changes. Structural damage can occur over time if a building in an area with expansive soil lacks a solid foundation. If subsurface conditions are not properly studied before construction begins, the contractor may fail to ensure adequate drainage, which can result in flooding and compromised structural integrity.

➢ Operational and Maintenance Deficiencies: These occur when property owners fail to maintain their properties.

Consider hiring a construction defect consultant in California at the start of your project. Construction defect consultants are trained to perform thorough investigations and can help resolve construction claims amicably to keep disputes out of court.

At The Swaney Corporation-Crowe Construction, we have assembled a team of skilled construction defect consultants. Their expertise and specialized knowledge enable them to investigate and analyze complex construction defects. To learn more, call 1-707-665-9668 today.

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