Construction Defects: Who’s Responsible?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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After you notice a construction defect with your home or business, you must determine who’s liable for the repairs or damages. Many people assume it’s the builder, but others might be responsible as well.

Common Construction Defects

A defect, flaw or design error in the construction of a building can reduce the value of that building or pose a dangerous condition that must be corrected. The most common defects are attributed to plumbing, roofs, framing, finishes such as siding, stucco or drywall, as well as soil that has not been compacted or graded properly. Many states have enacted laws that specifically define what are considered construction defects.

Many construction defects can be detected immediately such as a crooked roof or a crack in a wall or foundation. However, others may take years to discover, such as a slow water leak that existed at the time of construction but wasn’t discovered until toxic mold formed a year later.

Determining Who is Responsible

While most people think that the builder is responsible, in reality, the developer, the general contractor or the various subcontractors who worked on the structure may also be responsible. Knowing who can be responsible is sometimes half the battle. In many cases, a lawsuit is filed against one of the parties who ends up bringing others into the lawsuit. An attorney whose practice focuses in construction defect law will be able to determine responsibility so that valuable time and efforts are not wasted.

Steps to Take After Discovering a Construction Defect

After experiencing a construction defect, you should take steps to protect your interests, such as taking photographs, keeping detailed records of inspections and phone conversations, and all receipts and written documentation relating to the defect. When a defect is repaired, always make sure that a licensed contractor does the work. Contractors are generally required to be licensed by the state in which they provide services and should have a state-issued license number.


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