Switching materials could give rise to construction defect claims

If you want to build a home from the ground up, you likely want something of high quality that you can either live in for the rest of your life or eventually resell for a substantial profit. Unfortunately, your contractors may have a similar profit motive that could impact the condition of the finished house.

When you first walk through your new home, provided that there aren’t glaring issues such as uneven floors, obvious drips coming from the new roof or other obvious issues with the quality of the work, a construction defect claim might be the farthest thing from your mind as you move in.

Unfortunately, work that at first seems adequate and appropriate may later turn out to be subpar, which could drastically impact the value of your home when it comes time to sell. Replacing premium or standard building materials with basic, economy or scratch-and-dent quality materials is one way in which contractors can fail to uphold their contract with property owners.

The first step is always reviewing your contract or building plans

Many homeowners feel shocked when they learn that it was completely within the terms of the contract for their builder to install a $4, mass-produced brass fixture that you might see in a cheap apartment in a premium new development property. Reviewing the exact terms of your contract with the specific contractor and the company that designed or developed the property to begin with is usually the best place to start when you suspect an unscrupulous switch of materials or supplies.

It is possible that there are no provisions for specific materials in your contract or that the language is so vague that the contractor can excuse their questionable materials. However, if you agreed to a specific standard and the contractor did not adhere to that, you can likely make a claim against them. Additionally, if what they did substantially diverges from industry standards, you may also have a claim for defects due to the use of questionable materials.

Flooring and drywall are common sources of bait and switch issues

When you toured the home and discussed its final look with your contractor, you looked at real hardwood samples and picked something exotic or classic that you felt would give your home the perfect, upscale feel. Unfortunately, the contractor then installed manufactured wood or even cheap rolled vinyl flooring with a wood grain appearance.

While at first glance the floor may look like what you agreed on and paid for, it is much cheaper and lower quality than what you wanted, and that discrepancy will impact the long-term value and sale price of the property unless you pay to replace the floors.

Drywall is another way for contractors to cut costs at the expense of the livability and stability of the property they construct. One-inch drywall was at one time the standard for most drywall installations, but drywall with a 3/4 inch depth is now common. Some contractors will push things even further, installing 1/2 inch drywall in high traffic areas that will likely suffer damage from basic use or even ¼ inch drywall, which most contractors agree should only be used underneath other kinds of board.

If you have learned since possessing your new home that the contractors used cut-rate or damaged materials to turn a bigger profit on the project, you may be able to hold them responsible for the cost of replacing the subpar materials with what you agreed upon and paid for in your initial contract.


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