Your home should be your sanctuary, a place where you and your family feel safe at all times. Unfortunately, this can all come crashing down around you if your home has construction defects. Many homes are built with major problems that somehow get past construction companies and inspectors, and homeowners end up paying the price. It helps to know what to look for when buying or building a home, but in many cases, there are no signs or symptoms until it is too late.
What Are the Three Categories of Construction Defects?
The first category to be discussed is material defects, and these issues can often be traced back to the manufacturer. However, if the builder was aware of the defect, they might also be responsible. Material defects can lead to extremely expensive repairs because they require the costs of new materials as well as labor costs on top of it. Design defects, on the other hand, are linked to mistakes made by design professionals, such as architects or developers. These are sometimes corrected during the construction process by using change orders, but not always because it might be less expensive to work around them.
The third category is workmanship defects, which can be much more difficult to trace. It is not unusual for construction companies and their employees to cut corners, whether it be using a less expensive, inadequate product to install tiles, a failure to install insulation, or another major lapse of professionalism. These kinds of defects can cause easy-to-fix aesthetic issues or complicated structural integrity problems.
What if My House Is Leaking?
One of the top construction defects relates to windows. Sometimes, inadequate transportation and storage lead to bent or broken window jambs and fins, damaged glass, frame distortions, and screen damage. If a window is not manufactured or installed properly, it could easily leak because of problems with the sealant or opening size. There could also be problems with the flashing, fasteners, and locking mechanisms.
Any of these defects could cause air infiltration and moisture to accumulate inside a home or building. Roofs can also leak when roofing products are not installed in the correct ways. Contractors can mistakenly substitute roof mastic for flashings, or there could be rips and holes in roof underlayment. Roofers can also install roof eave drip edges over roofing felt when it is supposed to be beneath it.
Walls are also supposed to be water resistant, but problems occur when wall weatherization is not installed correctly. Contractors have been using exterior penetration flashing on exterior walls, and this can lead to defects if they do not use the right kind. Also, if there are tears, rips, or holes in the exterior wall’s weather-resistant barrier systems, water and air can get in.
Foundation and Framing Problems
Builders are supposed to construct foundations that resist moisture, but this also is a frequent problem. If water penetrates through the slab, it can damage your floors, crawlspace, and basement. This could result in poor air quality, bio-organic growth, and possible damage to the framing. If you notice a lot of mold or a damp smell, it could be due to your foundation, roof, or windows. Framing problems caused by truss issues can lead to popping sounds and cracked drywall from underload shift, expansion, and contraction. These kinds of defects can also cause frames to fail, which is a major concern if there is an earthquake or other serious weather event.
Some of the other top construction defects are related to poorly installed insultation, missing or damaged fire blocking, cracked stucco, and builders failing to follow or complete the construction plans. Not following plans and specifications increases the risk of defects and can also make it much more difficult to make warranty or insurance claims. It also makes it harder to complete effective repairs.
Can I Sue for Construction Defects?
Construction professionals sign contracts before building homes and buildings and are obligated to adhere to a designated standard of care. All work must be completed in accordance with those design and contract documents. Builders are supposed to review these documents, facilitate pre-building activities and on-site coordination, and visit the site before work begins to familiarize themselves with the local conditions. Finally, all work should be performed in accordance with acceptable standards of workmanship, with ongoing inspections.
Every contractor and worker need to perform their contractual obligations up to a designated standard of care. This is generally defined as using a degree of efficiency that is possessed by those of ordinary skill, competency, and standing in a particular trade or business for which the contractor is employed. Therefore, the work should be performed to industry-accepted standards, be done according to plan, and be free of defects. These companies are also responsible for obtaining the proper permits and inspections throughout the building process, but some manage to find ways around this.
Homeowners and building owners can sue construction companies and manufacturers for defects, but there are a lot of factors involved that can make it complicated. There will likely be several defendants, fact-intensive discovery procedures, different insurance policy coverages, and anti-indemnity statutes. A lawyer qualified in real estate litigation can help determine the scope of the damages, such as the decline in property value, cost of repairs, court costs, and even punitive damages if there was recklessness or gross negligence involved. If the defects are not discovered until long afterward, there may also be a statute of limitations to consider. Should you be concerned that your home or other property has defects, it may be advisable to hire a third-party inspector who is unbiased and thorough enough to provide you with a complete and honest report and a qualified real estate lawyer.
Towson Real Estate Lawyers from Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Homeowners Dealing with Serious Construction Defects
If your home is showing signs of construction defects and the builder is not cooperating, reach out to the Towson real estate lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC. Our staff is highly trained and experienced in real estate law and will fight to get you compensation for which you are entitled. For more information and a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 443-589-0150. Located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.