Loss Due to Construction Defects
A construction defect is a flaw or deficiency in a building’s design, the material’s used, quality of the property or the level of skill of the builders. These defects may cost the owner thousands of dollars to repair, cause a decrease in the worth of the structure or, in some cases, makes the structure unsafe. Some defects may be clear to the naked eye, however, some may be hidden and are not discovered until weeks, months or years later.
Depending on the type of defect and when it is discovered, determining the responsible party or parties may be difficult. Various contractors, subcontractors and other workers may be involved in constructing a home and all or some may be responsible for the building’s deficiency. Because of this, a construction defect lawsuit can be quite complicated. Some examples of possible defendants (responsible parties) include architects, building designers, builders, land developers, contractors/subcontractors, product manufacturers, suppliers, home or property sellers and others depending on the circumstances and the defect.
Types of Construction Defects
There are four general types of construction defects: design, material, workmanship and land defects. A design defect is a flaw made in the planning of the home, often a mistake in the blueprints. Whereas, material defects are problems with the building supplies used to construct the home. If the builders were incompetent or inadequate in their jobs, those defects would be due to poor workmanship. Finally, site defects are problems with the land that the home was built upon, such as poor soil or improper grading.
Many of these defects may be discovered upon inspection of the home and property. However, some defects may not be visible upon inspection. These are known as latent defects. Building or land deficiencies (easily visible or latent) may include cracked foundations; improperly installed electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems; leaky roofs or basements; mold; dry rot; septic system problems; no access to a water supply and others, depending on the situation.
Possible Legal Claims
An injured party (plaintiff) may have different claims based on the applicable laws, the type of defect, when the defect was discovered, who is responsible for the defect and other factors depending on the circumstances. Some possible causes of action include:
- Breach of express warranty - When purchasing a home, a buyer will usually receive express warranties, which are guarantees concerning the home’s condition and safety. The builders must perform the tasks guaranteed by the express warranty prior to the sale of the home. If the builder fails to do so, they may have breached the express warranty and be held liable to the buyer for that breach.
- Breach of implied warranty – When a buyer purchases a newly constructed home, he or she generally receives an implied warranty of habitability from the builder that guarantees the home’s quality, condition and fitness as a home. If, after the sale, the buyer finds any defects, the builder must repair them or rectify the situation. If the builder does not, the warranty has been breached and the buyer may have a claim against the builder.
- Negligent construction – In a negligence claim, the homebuyer must show the court that the builder had a duty to the buyer to “exercise reasonable care” when constructing the home, the builder breached this duty, which caused injury to the plaintiff and the buyer suffered damages as a result. If the elements of negligence are established to the court, the plaintiffs may be awarded monetary damages for the injuries they suffered.
- Fraudulent concealment of dangerous conditions - If the previous owner, builder or, in some cases, real estate agent knew of hazardous or unsafe conditions on the land or in the structure and did not disclose this information to the buyer, the buyer may have a claim for fraudulent concealment of dangerous conditions. The responsible party (owner, builder or agent) may be liable for damages caused by the concealment.
There may be additional causes of action in construction defect cases depending on your situation and the law in your state. Speak to an attorney to learn more about different types of construction defect claims and what claim may be most appropriate for you based on the facts of your case.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If your home has a flaw or deficiency, it is important to speak to an attorney knowledgeable in construction defects before you do anything. Some state laws require that the injured party allow the builders to repair the defect prior to any legal action by the plaintiff. An attorney can tell you more about your state’s specific requirements, your legal options and assist you in pursuing your claim.
Preparing to Meet with Your Personal Injury Attorney
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