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Construction defects: The warning signs of foundation problems

Could a major construction defect be right beneath your feet?

There are a lot of different types of construction defects that can cause a problem with your property. Leaks may reveal a plumbing problem. Lights or appliances that don't turn on may signal an issue with the building's electric wiring. Doorways and stairs may be incorrectly aligned.

However, there's probably nothing more costly -- or harder to spot -- than a problem with a building's foundation. Foundation problems may not even be obvious until a year or two after your building is occupied.

Here are the signs that you may have a defect in your foundation:

Cracks in the walls

Cracks often appear in the basement. They could be nothing serious at all. However, every crack has the potential to be a serious problem. Cracks can indicate that the weight of the building isn't evenly distributed on the foundation or that the foundation wasn't laid deeply enough into the soil.

Uneven settling and sagging floors

Some "settling" of your building may be normal -- but you should never be able to notice a large shift. In particular, watch for signs that the building is laying unevenly. For example, your floor should never be sagging at any point. Differential movement, whether downward or upward, is a sign that there are problems with the ground underneath. It may be an issue with the moisture in the soil or the soil itself may not have been properly prepared before building.

Doors and windows that don't work

If your doors are starting to stick or drag, that's a serious concern. Sometimes doors will stick due to moisture or humidity -- but they shouldn't be that way on mild days nor appear visibly uneven. French doors or patio doors may even stop meeting in the middle. Similarly, windows that have gaps around their frames or trouble moving are another serious concern.

If a problem with your foundation appears just a few years after construction, you may have some legal recourse against your builder. Find out more by discussing the specifics of your situation with an attorney who has experience handling construction defect claims.

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