DC Construction Defect Attorney
A construction defect refers to defects in the design, materials, or workmanship that leads to a failure in the structure of real property. These defects most commonly occur due to issues relating to site selection and planning, negligent construction, improper soil analysis and preparation, civil and structural engineering, and defective building materials. Because of the variety of issues, construction defects are classified as patent or latent. Patent issues are obvious defects that appear soon after the construction or remolding finishes. Latent issues are hidden and will not be visible for many years after the construction of the home.
Because construction defects come in many different forms and can occur at different times in a house’s lifespan, a successful construction defect litigation claim relies on the testimony of experts who specialize in specific areas of construction. These experts must first investigate the defect and spot the cause for the defect. After this, the experts make recommendations on how to remedy the defects. Finally, an experienced and knowledgeable construction litigation attorney is vital as they can guide you through the different legal facets present in construction defect cases.
Types of Construction Litigation Cases
If the design of a building was not structurally sound, many issues may appear during or shortly after the building process. While the design itself may be up to code and even follow specific state regulations, the design of the building could allow water to collect in one area—causing damage—or place too much weight on a part of the structure that could lead to damage long after the house was built.
Just as important as the design of your home is the materials used to build it. Material construction defects occur in two main ways. First, your contractor could use cheap materials that deteriorate over time at a much faster rate compared to quality materials. Second, the materials themselves may be defective. In this case, you would have a claim against the material supplier if the materials were stored improperly. However, the material defect may be due to defects in the product itself and if this is the case, the material manufacturer is responsible.
If your home was built using subpar construction practices, it is likely that issues will occur. Unlike construction defects arising from materials, defects arising from the construction of your home lay entirely on the workmanship. Common issues arising from defects in the construction of your home include foundation cracks, wood rot, electrical problems, and leaks in the plumbing. Finally, if you have noticed issues in your home due to poor workmanship, you will likely find additional problems associated with these issues or other issues that occurred because of poor workmanship.
Subsurface defects are related to construction defects. However, there is one main difference between the two. Subsurface construction defects occur if the foundation was not properly built or adequately prepared. In certain cases, you may have one company pour the foundation and another build your home. Furthermore, if your home has a subsurface defect, your home will show subtle issues such as cracking, subsidence, and shifting. While subsurface defects may be subtle, this is one of the most serious defects that can occur. Finally, subsurface defects highlight why hiring a construction expert is key to your case. A construction expert will be able to look at the issues present in your home and decide if they are due to the construction company that poured your foundation or the company that built your home.
Whether you experience construction defects from the design, material, construction, or subsurface of your home, the most common issues involved in construction defects litigation include:
- Water issues
- Electrical systems
- Landscaping and soil
- Faulty drainage
- Foundation, floor, wall, and roof cracks
- Dry rot
- Structural failure
- Heating and electrical
Recoverable Damages from Construction Defect Cases
Each construction defect case is different. However, you can typically recover the cost of repairs and the decline in the value of your home. Furthermore, if you had to move out of your house while the repairs were being completed, you could recover monetary damages for the loss of the use of the property during the repair and temporary housing costs. Additional damages can include court costs, and in some instances the attorney’s fees if provided for in the contract or by your state’s laws. Finally, any personal injuries resulting from the defect may be recovered.
Limits on Filing a Construction Defect Lawsuit
When filing a construction defect lawsuit, it is important to understand that there are statute of limitations on these claims. In the District of Columbia, construction defect lawsuits have a statute of limitations of 10 years. Furthermore, a homeowner has 3 years to file the lawsuit after they noticed the defect in the home. While this is the statute in DC, if there were warranties on the materials or labor used to build your home that extend pass ten years yet the contractor or supplier refuses to fix the issues, you will still be able to sue the party. Another tip is that most states have legislation that requires the homeowner to notify the developer or contractor of the defect. Only if they refuse to repair the damage can a lawsuit be brought forth.
Can you Make Repairs or Sell a Home While a Construction Defect Lawsuit is Pending
Typically, the homeowner must protect real property from sustaining damage when possible. As such, if you repaired your home before you found out the damage was caused by a defect, these costs are recoverable in the lawsuit. Failure to perform these repairs can cause or contribute to additional damages. These additional damages may offset the owner’s claim by leading to the defense of “failure to mitigate damages”. In many states, a failure to mitigate damages claim occurs when a defendant causes harm to the plaintiff yet the plaintiff does not take the proper steps to limit the damages that occur. Finally, homeowners can normally sell their homes during a construction defect lawsuit. However, most states require homeowners to include a disclosure form to potential buyers. This form typically states that the home is involved in litigation.
Contact our Law Office for More Information
For more information on DC construction defect attorneys, contact us at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. For more information on our construction law practice, check out our blog.