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What Is Housing and Construction Defects Law?

A home is the most expensive long-term investment most people will make in their lifetimes, so it's important to know when to pursue legal action for construction defects. A construction defect is any physical condition that (1) reduces the value of a structure or endangers the safety of its occupants; (2) results from a flaw in design, workmanship, or materials; and (3) does not result from normal wear and tear.

Since a typical construction site involves multiple workers and uses materials provided by many suppliers, construction defects are not uncommon. Some problems you can handle on your own. In the best-case scenario, simply contacting the builder or contractor and pointing out a defect may get them to fix the problem. But depending on the nature of and the risks posed by a construction defect, you may need legal representation. 

Terms to Know

  • Contractor: One that contracts to perform work or provide supplies; one that contracts to erect buildings.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Toxins released by certain types of mold can cause respiratory illnesses and other health problems.

Types of Construction Defects

A homeowner may encounter any number of construction defects in a new house. Some defects aren't discovered until many years after the home is completed, such as an unsteady foundation due to improper grading.

Common workmanship defects include water leakage, faulty electrical or heating systems, mold growth in interior walls, and dry rot.

Common material defects include faulty or cracked windows, deteriorating flashing, and problems with interior drywall or other materials used in damp areas.

Defects also can result from an improper design. Design defects are typically caused by an architect's failing to produce an accurate set of plans and other construction documents. An example of a design defect could include a ceiling that despite being made with proper materials, cannot bear the weight of the floor above.

A construction law attorney will be able to help you resolve the issue if one or more of the parties involved in the design, manufacturing, or sourcing of materials is responsible for a defect.

Toxic Mold

Some construction defects pose a health hazard. Toxic mold is not uncommon and can be a big problem. Toxic mold can create VOCs that can cause serious respiratory problems, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and other ailments. Mold tends to flourish in homes with inadequate ventilation.

If you have become ill due to toxic mold, you may have a valid personal injury claim against any number of parties involved: contractors and subcontractors, architects and engineers, material suppliers and manufacturers, or the previous homeowners (if they failed to disclose such problems). Find a toxic mold lawyer near you.

Related Practice Areas

Find a housing and construction defect attorney near you if you would like to consider your legal options.

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