What Should You Know about Construction Defects?

Construction DefectsConstruction Defects

Minor construction defects occur frequently and are rarely consequential. But this isn’t always the case. Construction defects can be dangerous and pose a risk to the property and people.

Defending against defects is challenging, regardless of whether they are large or small. What should you know about construction defects?

A construction defect is just as it sounds – something is defective in a building’s construction. The problem might be related to the design of the structure, the materials used to create the structure, or the workmanship. Legally, defects must cause damage, financial or otherwise, to someone or to the structure itself.

All three of the following must be present for something to legally be considered a defect:

  • There must be a deficiency in the construction process itself
  • That deficiency must lead to a failure in the structure
  • That failure must cause damage to a person or property

What’s the Difference between Design, Material, and Workmanship Defects?

Construction defects can occur at any point in the creation of a structure. The point at which the defect occurred determines which type of defect it is. For example:

Design Defects

This type of defect occurs in the design phase of a project. Design professionals must create accurate and well-organized designs, and if there is an error or omission in the design of a structure it is the designer who is responsible for the defect. If a defect is found, the designer must redesign or create a replacement, or add to the scope of the work by using a change order.

Material Defects

This type of defect occurs when there is a problem with the materials used in building a structure. In most cases, those building the structure don’t know there is a defect until the materials are in use, which means these defects are expensive and time-consuming to fix.

Workmanship Defects

These defects occur when contractors fail to build parts or structures under the plans. These are usually what people think of when they hear “construction defects,” even though they are not the only type. This type of defect can be difficult to resolve because determining how the defect occurred and who is responsible is often a complex process.

To avoid construction defects, make sure you:

  • Review the contract terms and policy coverage so everyone knows what to expect as the project moves forward
  • Implement quality control programs that catch potential problems before they become a defect
  • Act quickly to resolve them when they do occur

It’s also important to keep in mind that everyone involved in a project is responsible for a certain standard of care. This is the standard to which they are held when it comes to completing their contractual obligations in a project. Failing to meet the standard of care makes a party responsible for a defect.

What is a Statute of Repose?

Construction defect litigation is complex and cases tend to take a long time to resolve. They also tend to be expensive. The more that can be done to avoid a defect from occurring the better it is for everyone involved. This type of litigation is made even more complex by the fact that it can take a long time to discover a defect and in some cases, the statute of limitations has passed by the time the defect is found. This is where the statute of repose comes in.

The statute of repose refers to the time a party has to file a lawsuit after harm has occurred. For example, there might be a defect in a home that was built 20 years ago, but the damage didn’t occur until recently. If the harm occurred within the statute of repose, which varies a great deal from state to state, the affected party might still be eligible to take legal action.

The statute of repose in Florida is 10 years, but there are many factors involved. For more information on Florida’s statute of repose laws, check out this information from the Florida legislature.

If you’ve been affected by a construction defect, you need legal representation that understands the construction industry. For more information or to discuss your situation with a legal professional, contact Frese Whitehead & Anderson, P.A., at 321-984-3300 for more information.


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