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Latent vs. patent construction defects

Some things are obvious. For instance, overeating leads to weight gains and students who do their homework get better grades. Construction defects in condominiums can be just as obvious, of course. Construction done with understrength concrete can result in defects visually obvious to everyone, such as crumbling or cracking walls.

Readily apparently construction defects are referred to as obvious or patent defects, while the unseen flaws harder to detect are known as latent.

Some examples of common latent defects can be wind-posts or wall ties that allow structural movement that damages walls. Understrength concrete can result in latent defects (in addition to patent defects) that also allow damaging structural movement.

Another example of a latent defect: an inadequate foundation which results in subsidence (the soil beneath the building sinks and negatively impacts structural stability).

In many cases, latent defects are progressive; getting worse over time as the building and its heating, cooling, electrical and water systems are put under the strain of daily use.

An example of a progressive latent defect would be concrete that deteriorates as it goes through several sweltering Florida summers and then our cooler winters. Another example would be a roof that is designed to last 25 years, but deteriorates and leaks after just five.

In many situations, compensation and repairs for latent progressive construction defects will be the responsibility of the developer and contractor. But there are also cases in which the damage is due to flaws in material or design or other aspects of the project.

To learn more about how you can protect your interests, contact a law firm experienced in representing condo owners associations in negotiations and construction law litigation.

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