Who is Liable for Construction Defects?
The successful completion of construction projects is the goal for every construction company. Although most projects are finished without issue, some projects experience complications with construction defects. They pose a serious problem for construction companies as it can open them up to liabilities and other types of penalties. On top of that, the project cannot be completed until those defects are resolved.
Many construction project managers worry about being sued for construction defects. This is a valid concern, but the issue is more complex than most people think. The contractor is not the only party that can be sued for construction defects. In this article, a Charlotte contractor lawyer discusses construction defects and the other parties that can be held liable.
A construction defect is a problem that arises because of how construction was managed. Put simply, a part of the construction process does not go according to plan and results in damaged or subpar work. Surprisingly, construction defects are relatively common. The vast majority of these defects are unimportant and easy to fix. For example, floorboards that do not lie perfectly flat are considered a defect. Replacing that floorboard is relatively easy and should not affect the rest of the project.
Some construction defects are more serious and can even threaten the safety of the property. For example, laying the foundation for a house can be a complicated process and the foundation is expected to last the lifespan of the house. The last thing you want is a defect in the foundation. However, there are times when the cement used to lay the foundation will develop cracks because of a problem in the construction process. A cracked foundation can threaten the safety of the entire structure and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Types of Defects
There are several types of construction defects that can occur on a construction project. It is important to understand the differences between these defects because they can point to the party that is liable for the defect. The types of construction defects include:
Design defects have to do with the overall design of the construction work. For example, the plans for a house are designed by an architect. Design defects will appear in the way that the house is designed in may show on the blueprints for construction. There should be steps along the process to make sure that design defects are identified and fixed before construction begins. However, they can slip through and cause problems during the construction process. Since it is a design issue, the party that created the designs could be liable for any damage caused by the faulty designs.
Material defects occur when defective or low-quality building materials are used. When this happens, materials can fail and construction work can be ruined. The damage that is incurred and the cost of that damage can be extensive based on what materials failed in the structure. The problems usually stem from manufacturing defects and are not discovered until after construction is completed.
Workmanship defects come from the actual construction operations themselves. It has to do with the quality of the work being done by the people working on the project. While it is not illegal to do bad work on a construction project, it is a problem if the work being done does not meet the basic standard of quality. It essentially means that workers have to avoid creating problems to the best of their ability to meet a minimum standard of quality they can ensure safety. Workmanship defects are likely the most commonly cited type of defect to occur in a construction project. Fortunately, many of these defects are easier to find right after they happen and can be fixed relatively quickly.
Liability for construction defects is largely determined by the contract that the contractor signed at the start of the project. The contractor is ultimately responsible for making sure that the work aligns with what they agree to. However, manufacturers and subcontractors can be held liable for those defects if their work caused the problem and they failed to fix it. This is especially common when subcontractors who do subpar work and refuse to fix the problems that their work creates. Manufacturers can be held liable to have they make a subpar product that causes damage. They are responsible for the quality of their products and can be held liable when the products do not meet expectations.
How to Handle Construction Defects
The method that you would use to handle a construction defect depends largely on when it is discovered. If the defect is discovered before the project is finished, the contractor can have it fixed. Many of the smaller defects can be fixed without affecting the entire project. A larger more serious defect will need to be addressed as well, but the contractor probably still has people on site who can work on the problem without encountering issues.
If the defect is found after the project is finished, addressing it becomes more complicated. Ultimately, someone will have to go in and fix the defect, resulting in expenses and possibly resulting in more work needing to be redone. If this is the case, it is important for the contractor to determine who is liable for that defect before taking action. The contractor may not be held financially responsible for the cost of fixing the defect and redoing other work on the property if necessary.
Determining liability for construction defects can be difficult on your own. Contracts can change how liability works and it is important that you get it right when you try to figure it out. If you have any questions about construction defect liability, contact a Charlotte contractor attorney from Cotney Attorneys & Consultants.
If you would like to speak with a Charlotte contractor attorney, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.