What are latent construction defects?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2023 | Construction Defects |

A construction defect is any physical condition or flaw in a structure’s design, workmanship or materials that reduces its value and presents a potential threat to its occupants. It occurs when one party does not fulfill their obligations to a contract concerning an ongoing construction project with due prudence and in good faith. It is not a result of wear and tear.

Patent construction defects manifest while the construction is still in progress. They are obvious and discoverable through thorough site inspections. The costs of correcting them are typically minimal. Latent construction defects, on the other hand, are hidden defects that take years to become detectable.

Who are liable for latent construction defects?

Latent defects can become a huge problem for property owners, operators, and contractors. The owners and operators of the property will usually hold the general contractor responsible for construction defects, even when it could have been the fault of a third party.

Construction work involves multiple parties and contracts. Depending on their contract conditions, designers and structural engineers may also share a certain degree of liability.

Contractors hire subcontractors to perform specific specialized tasks or services. If the subcontractor does not perform their duties with reasonable care, they can make mistakes. Instead of fixing their errors, they may attempt to conceal the defects.

Contractors also order materials from manufacturers, who should evaluate and test their products before selling them. For example, a contractor may purchase a structural beam from a manufacturer. The manufacturer may provide one that meets all the contract specifications, except that it does not have enough strength to support the weight the contractor intended it to carry. The manufacturer may intentionally or recklessly fail to disclose the relevant information. After a few years, the structure may collapse.

Contractors can take steps to protect themselves

Whenever a contractor deals with any vendor, they should make sure to get everything in writing. A contract can protect them against potential lawsuits, especially when defects arise in the future.

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