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Construction defects in exterior elements: What can go wrong

Defective construction can affect any aspect of a structure, from the foundation to the roof. Many defects involve internal components such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing. However, a thorough inspection of the exterior can also reveal a great deal about potentially catastrophic problems - especially in large structures such as condominiums.

COAs, HOAs and property managers should be aware of what can go wrong. 

Common problems with the exterior of a structure include:

  • Damaged or defective roofing
  • Failed joints
  • Cracks, delamination or deflections in the foundation
  • Weaknesses in the framing or supports between floors
  • Inadequate drainage
  • Corroded rebar
  • Leaking windows or doors

In Florida's wet, humid climate, water intrusion is a common issue, and it frequently stems from exterior deficiencies.

Balconies are another common source of problems. Structural weaknesses can cause them to pull away from the main structure or, in severe cases, to collapse.

Enlisting an expert

As an association member or property manager, it's important to know when you should enlist an expert. Even though some exterior defects can be detected with a visual inspection, understanding the import of those defects - and whether they indicate something more serious - takes a trained eye.

Cracks in the outer fa├žade, for example, might be purely cosmetic. Or they might reveal a deeper structural issue that could jeopardize both life and property.

For this reason, a thorough inspection of the exterior should be performed by a licensed engineer who can pinpoint the root of the issue. Talk to a local construction law attorney for help with selecting the right inspector and taking legal action, if necessary.

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