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What causes construction defects and who is responsible for them?

Construction defects are a complex problem -- and the source of a lot of litigation.

Anything involved in the construction of your home or building that lowers its value is potentially a defect for which someone is legally liable.

What causes construction defects?

Generally speaking, construction defects can include:

  • Poor design, which could be the result of an architectural or drafting failure
  • Poor workmanship, related to the skill or attentiveness of the contractor or subcontractor involved in the work
  • Poor quality of the materials that were used in the construction project

Sometimes, there may even be a combination of these factors involved, which can further complicate issues.

Who is responsible for a construction defect?

As you can probably tell from the descriptions above of the type of construction defects that occur, it isn't always immediately clear who should accept the blame -- and financial liability -- for a construction defect.

A design error could be the result of a surveyor who failed to give the architect correct information about the quality of the soil and the grade of the land you were building on. It could be the architect's failure alone -- especially if he or she was inexperienced or overambitious.

An error in craftsmanship could have been the fault of the general contractor or one of the subcontractor's hired for an individual task. For example, if the contractor can't follow the blueprints that come from the architect or does slipshod work -- using the wrong size nails, using risers of different heights on the stairwells and so on -- the liability would end there.

Defects due to shoddy materials can be hard to assess. Was the contractor aware that the materials were substandard? Were they inspected and then switched out by a dishonest supplier? Was there every reason to believe they were quality materials until latent defects began to show after a short time in use?

If you suspect -- or know -- that a construction defect is affecting your real estate's value, seek legal guidance so that you know what steps to take next.

Source: www.mcsmag.com, "What is a Construction Defect?," accessed Jan. 05, 2018

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