There are numerous effects that construction defects can have on many parties, leading to potentially serious consequences if they aren’t mitigated. Construction defects involve the failure of any partially completed or finished construction project to meet the standards established before construction. Contract documents normally help put those standards into place, and any defect could be detrimental to the overall project in the short and long term.
There are multiple types of defects, each of which can lead to different negative effects on a property.
Two Classifications of Defects: Latent and Obvious
Construction defects can be either latent or obvious, which will affect a property in different ways.
Obvious construction defects are immediately noticeable and people normally catch them throughout the construction process. They may include defects such as weak concrete, insufficient coatings, or beams that are too small. Subsequently, obvious defects tend to be less expensive and the liability is often equally obvious.
Latent defects, on the other hand, aren’t found until after construction has completed. In many cases, people don’t catch the defect until years have passed and people are occupying the property. Some latent defects may include structural beams that meet most specifications but are found to be made with weak materials, degenerative concrete that cracks and breaks over a period of time, and roofing that’s prone to leaks. Oftentimes, latent defects cause extensive damage that property owners may not even be aware of until they require expensive repairs or renovations.
The Types of Construction Defects
Branching from these two categories of latent and obvious, there are several types of construction defects that can seriously affect a property.
Building Code Violations
Construction projects are required to meet all federal and local standards. If there is a failure to maintain compliance, this non-compliance counts as a construction defect or a defect of design, even if the integrity of the property isn’t compromised.
For instance, plumbing may work in a home, but the structure of the system may be in violation of the plumbing code.
Deviations from Specifications and Plans
Building plans and specifications are always used for construction to help guide the project to completion. Plans consist of an architect’s drawings, along with other details as specified by engineers and surveyors such as electrical, structural, and mechanical plans. Even more in-depth drawings are then prepared before a project design professional approves the plans to move forward with the project.
If any aspect of construction veers away from the plans in place, this deviation qualifies as a defect, regardless of whether the defect impacts the integrity of the structure.
In many cases, construction defects can cause premature deterioration of a construction project. For instance, the walls of a home may be intended to last for several decades but begin deteriorating within a decade of construction. However, if cracks or other signs of deterioration progress as the property ages, it won’t be considered a latent defect if it occurred around or after the expected start of deterioration.
Components or Projects Fail to Work as Originally Intended
Oftentimes, a construction defect will consist of a building or systems that don’t work the way they should. They may experience failures such as collapsing, foundation failure, and cracks, or components such as roofing may not be adequately resistant to weather.
How Construction Defects Can Impact Properties and Their Owners
If construction defects aren’t properly identified and addressed, this could have wide-ranging effects on the property, property owners, and occupants.
Repair and Renovation Expenses Could Accumulate
For example, a business may experience serious issues such as leaking roofs and foundational faltering that could ultimately lead to business owners filing for bankruptcy, as repair costs mount and business is lost.
In the case of residential property, a homeowner on social security disability may discover that a latent construction defect has led to serious problems that require renovation. Due to the homeowner’s financial constraints and the inability to work, it could become extremely difficult to afford the repairs.
Property Value May Depreciate
Many construction defects are likely to affect the value of a property, decreasing it to the point where a property tax appeal is justified. When it comes time to sell the property, the owners may have a difficult time attracting buyers who become aware of the poor construction and maintenance history.
Ultimately, construction defects are frequently disastrous for any type of property and can lead to financial difficulties for property owners. In some cases, occupants may also be at risk of serious injury. In any case, contractors, designers, and property owners may be held liable for defects and their effects.
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