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'Construction defect' is a broad term

"Construction defect" is a common term used in the construction industry. Unfortunately, finding a definitive description for the term is not so simple. Construction defects not only vary depending on the interests and viewpoints of the individuals involved, but statutory definitions vary by state.

Litigation and disputes regarding construction defects are complicated to resolve. There are many factors involved, and the "at fault" party has much to lose or gain financially by the outcome. A thorough investigation must be done of the construction project, and your legal representative must be knowledgeable and assiduous in litigating your case.

How do you differentiate a construction defect from a nuisance claim?

A nuisance claim may involve damage that is due to normal wear and tear. When you buy a product, it is often warranted against workmanship defects, but not against normal wear and tear. It is the same in construction.

A defect is the result of a design error or poor workmanship. Perhaps the building was not structurally designed correctly, and now the foundation is unsafe, the products used were faulty and didn't hold up or the workmanship was poor.

What is the difference between design and workmanship defects?

Builders usually follow a set of blueprints or architectural plans. Often a contractor will discover a defect in the plans during the construction process. These are usually errors and/or omissions.

Workmanship defects usually consist of a failure of the contractor or their crew to follow the plans correctly. It may be poor workmanship or improper installation of a component.

Who is responsible for construction defects?

Those usually responsible for defects are the design professional or the contractor. There may be others involved such as consultants or subcontractors but general liability falls under those two titles. The owner is rarely the responsible party.

Damages from construction defects can be minimal or massive, depending on the type of defect and when it is found. Early detection and easy repair are usually minimal. However, design issues or workmanship issues can often delay a project and result in extensive daily costs for a contractor and/or the owner.

Source: Modern Contractor Solutions, "What is a Construction Defect?," Jessica J. Alley, accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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