Construction defects may require litigation

| Oct 28, 2020 | Real estate disputes |

Many who buy a newly built home like the fact that the structure is in perfect condition. There are no nicks or dents in the paint, cracks in the ceiling or fears that the HVAC needs replacing. However, the paint may not even be dry before the new owner or developer planning to sell the property realizes that there are construction defects. At other times, it takes a while to realize that there is a defect. The obvious one is called a patent defect, and the latter becomes apparent over time as a latent defect.

The cause of these defects will vary. It can be as straightforward as defective building materials that do not perform up to expectations or promise. It can be shoddy workmanship. Often a combination of factors contributes to the construction defect. These include:

  • The aforementioned faulty materials or poor quality of work
  • Site selection and planning
  • Improper analysis and preparation of the soil
  • Mistakes involving civil and structural engineering

Why is this such a big deal?

While homes are the biggest and most important asset in most families, the sky is the limit when it comes to the cost of building commercial properties. Regardless of the structure, the owner does not want to see:

  • A leaky roof or water seeping up through the foundation
  • Faulty electrical or HVAC that does not work properly
  • Structural issues like cracks in the foundation, walls or ceiling
  • Faulty drainage or flooding on the property
  • Mold or dry rot

Any of these problems can be expensive to fix and reduce the value of the property.

Resolving the problem

Often these defects result in a contract breach. The owner or buyer may request that the contractor fix the problem covered under the contract, but it is often not that simple. The other party may not acknowledge that the defect is their fault or dispute the cost or work necessary for resolving the issue. They may also need to pay for related expenses like the cost of temporary housing, legal fees or damages for the loss of use during the repairs.

Construction defects are a time-sensitive issue

Different states have various ways of addressing these defects, but an implied warranty protects Pennsylvania owners, guaranteeing a reasonable standard for work and a benchmark of habitability. There are different deadlines for different defects, so it is essential to speak with a real estate law attorney that handles construction defects. While it may be a matter of negotiating an equitable solution, it may require a judge to issue a ruling on the case.