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Types of Construction Defects

Construction defects include improperly designed materials, poor workmanship, and failure to follow construction codes. Any deficiency in a building project can be considered a construction defect, including:

  • Defective architectural designs
  • Lack of planning or supervision
  • Lack of a proper inspection
  • Improper construction

Defects in property construction occur when there is a failure to construct the building in a reasonably workmanlike manner, or the structure fails to perform in the manner intended by the buyer.

Common Construction Defects

Some of the most common and high-cost construction defects include:

  • Structural integrity —​ concrete, masonry & division, carpentry, unstable foundations
  • Mechanical problems
  • Electrical issues
  • Water intrusion (which can result in property damage and toxic mold exposure)
  • Thermal and moisture protection
  • Doors, windows, and glass seals
  • Finishing defects

Categories of Construction Defects

Generally, courts categorize construction defects in one of four categories:

  • Design deficiencies
  • Material deficiencies
  • Construction deficiencies
  • Subsurface deficiencies

Design Deficiencies

Design professionals include architects and engineers. These professionals design buildings and systems. However, even professionals do not always work as specified, which can result in a defect. Typical design deficiencies relate to building outside of the specified building codes. Improperly designed roofs are an example of a design defect that can result in water penetration, intrusion, poor drainage, or inadequate structural support.

Material Deficiencies

Using inferior building materials can cause significant problems, such as windows that leak or inferior concrete that cracks under pressure. Inferior products can fail to perform and function adequately, even when properly installed.

Common manufacturer problems with building materials can include deteriorating flashing, building paper or waterproofing membranes that are not up to code, inferior asphalt roofing shingles, or using inferior drywall that is not approved for use in wet or damp areas, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Construction Deficiencies

Poor quality workmanship can result in multiple defects. Many construction defects are not up to code or may be intentionally covered up by a contractor. A common example is water intrusion through some portion of the building structure, including around windows, doors, or roof openings. Any water intrusion can create an environment for the growth of mold. Other construction defects include cracks in foundations, dry rot in lumber, electrical and mechanical problems, and plumbing leaks.

Subsurface Deficiencies

Expansive soil conditions are typical in many parts of the country, including Colorado and California. Some houses are built on hills, shifting soil, or other areas where it is difficult to provide a stable foundation. A lack of a solid foundation may result in cracked foundations and other damage to the building.

If subsurface conditions are not properly compacted and prepared for adequate drainage, the property may experience problems like improperly settling to the ground (subsidence), structure moving or shifting, and flooding.

Have Questions About the Different Types of Construction Defects? Ask a Lawyer

Construction defects can result in serious financial complications or difficulties and property damage. Construction defects can also go unnoticed for a long period of time. Delayed discovery of the problem can make construction defect disputes complicated to manage. For this reason, it's a good idea to consult with a local housing and construction defects attorney to learn how they can help you with an effective construction defect claim.

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