A construction defect may include any problem that reduces
the value of a home, condominium, or building. Construction
defects can be the result of design error by the architect,
a manufacturing flaw, defective materials, improper use or
installation of materials, lack of adherence to the blueprint
by the contractor, or any combination thereof.
Common types of construction defects include:
structural defects resulting in cracks or collapse; defective
or faulty electrical wiring and/or lighting; defective or
faulty plumbing; inadequate or faulty drainage systems; inadequate
or faulty ventilation, cooling or heating systems; inadequate
insulation or sound proofing; and inadequate fire protection/suppression
systems. Additionally, dry rot, wood rot, mold, fungus, or
termite or vermin infestation may also be the result of a
construction defect. A construction defect may also include
damage caused by land movement or earth settlement.
Determination of whether a problem constitutes
a construction defect involves various factors, including:
1) the buyer’s "reasonable expectation", 2)
the builders compliance or noncompliance with applicable building
codes and construction standards, 3) whether the construction
was performed in a workmanlike manner, 4) whether building
materials and products used were suitable for their intended
purposes, 5) whether or not the plans of architect and/or
engineers were followed.
Proving a construction defect almost always
requires the hiring and testimony of an highly trained and
experienced expert. An expert, such as an engineer or architect
will be able to determine whether a construction problem is
the result of improper design, material, or workmanship.
Common Types of Construction Defects
Asphalt or Concrete Defects:
Incorrectly or improperly installed asphalt or concrete can
lead to a number of serious problems including cracking, alligatoring,
water intrusion, displacement and subsidence. Asphalt problems
may occur when the asphalt or concrete mixture does not meet
proper specifications, or the asphalt is either too cold or
hot, or too wet or dry, before installation. Failure to provide
sufficient steel reinforcement may also lead to asphalt defects
such as cracking, structural failure or even collapse.
Electrical Defects: Electrical
defects include faulty wiring and outlet installation, improper
grounding of electrical fixtures, and faulty or defective
circuit breakers and ground fault interrupts. Electrical defects
can result in hazardous voltage or fire risk.
Plumbing and Drainage Defects:
Plumbing defects may include water piping corrosion and leaks,
inadequate water pressure, and improperly installed or defective
water heaters, valves, and drains. Defective plumbing and
piping can result in leaks, water damage, flooding, mold,
rot, and structural damage.
Defective Ventilation, Heating,
or Cooling Systems: Such defects can include failure
to install proper and adequate ventilation and/or failure
to provide adequate heating or air conditioning. More specific
examples may include improperly installed air ducts, cooling
coil leaks, and defective thermostats. Such defects can results
in a variety of problems including the trapping and build-up
carbon dioxide and other harmful or unhealthy gases. Additionally,
improper ventilation can result in mold build up, rot, and
increased fire hazard.
Defective Floors or Ceilings:
Floor defects may be the result of improper design or construction
that does not account for all load the floor must support,
resulting in cracks or sagging. Improperly constructed or
designed floors and ceilings may also be prone to water intrusion
and wood rot.
Defective Roofs: A roofing
system usually combines several elements such as the framing,
wood decking, felt underlay, and exterior roofing material
(e.g. tiles, shingles, wood shake). Roofing defects include
broken or loose roof tiles or shingles, improperly lapped
or misaligned tiles or shingles, inadequate felt underlay
coverage, torn or deteriorated felt underlay, or improper
or inadequate nails/fasteners. The most common result of a
defective roof is water intrusion which can result in water
damage in other areas of the building as well as create unhealthy
fungus and mold.
Defective Windows and Doors: Defective
doors and windows include those that stick or jamb or those
that are improperly installed or sealed allowing water intrusion.
Such water intrusion may allow the growth of mold and wood
Defective Stucco and Siding:
Stucco defects include stucco that is too thin, stucco that
allows water intrusion, and stucco that is prone to cracking
or staining. Wood siding defects may occur as the result of
failure to properly prime and seal the wood and failure to
use corrosion resistant nails.
Structural and Foundation Defects:
Among the most serious construction defects are those affecting
the foundation and basic structural components of a building.
The components designed and constructed to withstand tremendous
forces that a building may be subjected to, such as earthquakes
or high winds. Defects may include missing, improperly designed
or constructed shear walls, inadequate nailing of shear walls,
and shear walls that exceed height and width specifications.
Soil Subsidence: Soil
movement can cause massive damage to a structure, including
cracking of slabs and concrete, and separations of drywall
and stucco. Prior to construction, most developments must
be graded - during this phase soil can either be added or
removed. Failure to achieve the proper soil compaction may
result in land subsidence.
Toxic Mold and Wood Rot:
Wood rot is a fungal growth in the wood's structure. It occurs
when wood is exposed to moisture for long periods of time.
It usually occurs in poorly ventilated, enclosed spaces. If
left unchecked the rot can completely deteriorate the wood,
affecting the structural integrity of the structure.
Toxic mold is the term used to describe
a variety of fungal growths that are harmful to people. Toxic
mold may affect people in a variety of ways, depending in
the type of mold and amount of exposure. Symptoms may include
nausea and vomiting, wheezing, coughing, sore throat, fatigue,
fever, headaches, dizziness, watery eyes and runny nose. Small
children, elderly persons, people suffering from asthma, and
persons with weakened immune systems, may suffer serious adverse
effects. Like wood rot, toxic molds thrive in damp, enclosed
areas. Wood rot and toxic mold growth may be the result of
construction defects that cause water leakage into the building.