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How to avoid construction defects when buying a new condo

If you are buying a new condo, you may be captivated by the new modern amenities and design; but don't forget to be realistic when it comes to inspecting the residence for construction defects before signing on the dotted line. It is easy to be so focused on the fancy features that poor construction is only noticed after you move in.

If you do have your heart set on purchasing a condominium, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from a nightmare down the road. A proper inspection of the condo for construction defects is essential. 

First, we always recommend seeking legal representation when making an investment into real estate. It likely involves a major financial investment and it is important to know your rights and obligations under the contract and to assure you are receiving good and marketable title.

What should I look for when inspecting a new condo?

Initially, seek to obtain copies of any inspection reports regarding the entire condominium association as well as the individual unit you are seeking to purchase. It is wise to have your attorney recommend or, if you choose not to retain an attorney, seek out a qualified engineer who can assist you in inspecting the property conditions. 

Stucco problems are common. If you see cracked or crumbling stucco, it may indicate a poor installation job. When stucco is not applied correctly using the right materials, not only can it be unsightly, but it can allow water to penetrate the building causing a myriad other problems.

Look at sealing around windows and doors, especially sliding glass doors. Weather stripping is important in South Florida where hurricanes are a yearly possibility. The weather stripping must be properly applied and fit correctly to avoid deterioration of the glass in windows and sliding doors.

Window and door latches may seem like small devices, but they too speak to the strength of the structure against high winds or rain. Your windows and doors should latch tight leaving no room for pressure to build causing a blowout, or moisture to build causing rot and mold.

Also check post-tension cables, which are common in multifamily buildings. These cables have caps covering the stressed ends. If a cap does not fit correctly or is not properly installed, they may become damaged or even rust.

What should I do if I find construction defects after purchasing a condo?

Dealing with the construction defect might be the responsibility of the unit owner or the condo association, depending on the underlying issue. Resolving the dispute typically requires reaching out to the contractors, subcontractors, designers, developers or other responsible parties. Discuss your concerns with a qualified construction law attorney to ensure that you're following the right steps to protect your rights.

Source: The Cooperator Western Florida, "Preventing & Dealing with Construction Defects," Jonathan Barnes, accessed March 01, 2018

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