Recognizing a Construction Defect

Recognizing a Construction Defect

Construction defects can severely damage your property and can cost you large amounts of money if it isn’t handled correctly. Luckily, there are legal actions you can take when faced with a construction defect. 


Who’s at fault?

Depending on how extensive the damage is and the source of the defect, the party at fault could be the contractor, the designer/architect, or the property manager. The property manager is generally the one at fault in cases where they hired an unlicensed contractor or tried to repair something on their own. Beyond that, the court generally has the final say in who is liable.


Types of Defects

Construction defects are often categorized into one of four categories:

  • Design deficiencies
    • Defects due to design deficiencies can be traced back to the designer/architect and are often issues with permits and codes. They can also just be related to designs that do not work with the environment the property is in. Buildings in Minnesota have to be able to hold or shed tonnes of snow, and if the structure can’t hold it then there was a problem with the design.
    • Examples:
      • Not ADA compliant
      • The structure was built in the wrong place
      • The design doesn’t hold up to the purpose of the structure
      • Designed too close to nearby structures
  • Material deficiencies
    • Sometimes buildings are built with sub-par materials, and sometimes they last despite this. Just because the building lasts doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been more stable and effective with proper materials. 
    • Examples:
      • Low-quality windows
      • Inferior drywall
      • Insufficient waterproofing membranes
      • Low-quality roofing tiles
  • Construction deficiencies
    • Construction defects are a result of poor workmanship. They describe cases where something was installed or repaired incorrectly.
    • Examples:
      • Mold from leaky pipes or condensation buildup
      • Pest infestation
      • Electrical problems
      • Plumbing problems
      • Dry rot
  • Subsurface deficiencies
    • Geological surveying is an important step in any construction project, and subsurface defects are here to attest to that. In many regions, the soil beneath a building has a pretty big say in how well the building survives, as the soil can expand and contract depending on the season, be subject to landslides, or provide poor drainage and cause flooding.
    • Examples:
      • Cracked foundation
      • Shifting foundation
      • Damage to the building’s structure


Filing a Claim

For those looking to file a claim for a construction defect, it is important that they know that the statute of limitations in Washington State for such a claim, regardless of the time of discovery, is six years after construction was completed or terminated. This means that it is vital for property managers to thoroughly examine all construction projects occurring on their properties to ensure that they are up to code, using the proper materials, are being built well, and have been properly planned. Failing to do so could end up costing more down the road, and potentially require further construction.


If you would like help filing a claim or determining the value of a construction defect, do not hesitate to contact Templeton Horton Weibel & Broughton PLLC. Our lawyers are skilled in construction law and litigation and are happy to provide advice on your case.

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