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What are construction defects?

Construction defects are one of the most common reasons for real estate litigation in Idaho and around the country. Since buildings are complex structures, there is a lot that can potentially go wrong in the designing and building process. Construction defects may involve architectural design, the materials that are used in building, or craftsmanship.

Patent defects vs. latent defects

In real estate law, construction defects are generally divided into two categories: patent and latent. Patent defects are obvious defects that are easily seen during an inspection of a building. A person does not have to spend time living in a house to know that there was a patent defect.

On the other hand, a latent defect is something that an inspector might miss initially. These defects are not obvious to the naked eye, but they become apparent after time spent living in a house. Some examples of hidden, or latent, defects include:

  • Plumbing issues
  • Leaks in the roof
  • Cracks in the foundation

Liability for construction defects

Because so many professionals contribute to the building of one house, there are many different people who could potentially have liability for construction defects. Determining who is liable for a construction defect will depend on what the problem is and what caused it.

If a contractor used architectural plans that were poorly designed, the architect could be liable for defects. In a case like this, the contractor would not be liable if it executed the plans as written. There are many other cases where the architectural plans were sound, but the contractor made mistakes during the building process. The use of substandard materials can also result in a construction defect.

Preventing construction defects with quality control

For contractors, construction defects can result in expensive repairs and lawsuits. Construction defects are also a huge hassle for homeowners and real estate investors. To prevent construction defects, contractors and owners may want to set up quality control measures at every step of the building process. This means having a project inspected periodically to make sure everything is being done correctly.