The biggest investment you ever make is in your home. Knowing when you can pursue legal action for construction defects is essential. Nine times out of 10, a third party will be responsible for any construction defects in your home and other structures.
The question is whether you can file a legal claim when discovering a construction defect in your home or business. There is a branch of law that deals with these types of claims. Here, we'll explain what a construction defect is. We'll also discuss when you can recover damages for a construction defect in your home.
Definition of Construction Defect
Just because something is wrong with your home doesn't mean you have a legitimate construction defect. Under construction defect law, homebuilders are liable for defective work. However, your attorney must prove that your defect meets specific criteria to succeed in your construction defect case.
To prevail in your construction case, you must demonstrate that your home defect meets all of the following conditions:
- It reduces a structure's value or endangers its occupants' safety.
- It results from a flaw in the design, poor workmanship, or defective materials.
- It is not the result of normal wear and tear.
In most construction disputes, the homeowner is at a disadvantage. They don't understand how the construction industry works. They may not know how to prove a defect exists. This is why contacting a legal professional to help with your case is a good idea. They may resolve the problem with a single phone call or letter to the contractor.
The Construction Company May Fix the Problem
Construction defects are not uncommon. Construction sites involve multiple workers using building materials from different suppliers. You can handle some of these construction problems yourself.
For example, if you told your general contractor that you wanted brass doorknobs and they installed wooden knobs, you can switch them out. The same applies to minor issues like having the wrong paint color on your powder room walls. For minor problems like this, it isn't worth filing a lawsuit.
Ideally, all you'll have to do is contact the builder and point out a defect. They may come out and fix the problem without issue. However, this may not be an option. You may have no choice but to file a construction defect claim.
Types of Construction Defects
A homeowner may encounter any number of construction defects in their new house. Some defects don't appear until years after the contractor completes the residential construction project. For example, you usually wouldn't discover an unsteady foundation for years. The same is true for a cracked driveway. It can take months or years for the crack to appear.
One of the common types of defect is a workmanship defect. These occur when the builder or construction worker is negligent. These include:
- Water leakage
- Faulty electrical or heating systems
- Mold growth in interior walls
- Dry rot
Another type of defect is a material defect. These occur when the contractor's materials are defective, old, or of poor quality. Some materials defects include:
- Faulty or cracked windows
- Deteriorating flashing
- Low-quality interior drywall
One final type of defect homeowners often encounter is a design defect. Design defects happen when an architect fails to produce accurate plans and other construction documents. For example, the firm that designed your home may not have placed load-bearing walls correctly.
A construction law attorney can help resolve these issues. It depends on whether they can prove that the parties involved in the design, manufacturing, or sourcing of materials are responsible for the defect.
Some construction defects pose a health hazard. Toxic mold is not uncommon and can be a big problem. Toxic mold can create volatile organic compounds. These chemicals can cause severe respiratory problems, flu-like symptoms, headaches, and other ailments.
Mold tends to flourish in homes with inadequate ventilation. If the contractors were negligent when they installed your HVAC system, you may have a valid personal injury claim. Depending on the facts of your case and the nature of your defect, you may have to name several defendants in your construction defect litigation.
Some of the parties liable for your defects include:
- Contractors and subcontractors
- Architects and engineers
- Material suppliers and manufacturers
- Previous homeowners (if they failed to disclose such problems)
- Real estate agents who sold the home
One of the reasons defective construction cases are challenging is because there are so many possible defendants. It's also difficult to track down the companies that supplied defective materials and building components. This is why you should contact an experienced construction defect attorney.
A Construction Defect Lawyer Can Help
If you discover a defect in your new home or buy a home with construction defects, you have rights. Discussing your case with an experienced construction attorney is a good idea. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have a claim for damages.
Your attorney will demand that the responsible party compensate you for your losses. This may include:
- Costs of repair
- Loss of value in your home
- Property damage
You don't want to wait too long to contact an attorney. If you don't file your claim within the statute of limitations period, you may lose your right to sue.
Visit Findlaw.com's attorney directory to find a construction law attorney near you.