What is a Construction Defect?

Legal Article

What is a Construction Defect?

Construction defects are very common, though the majority of these defects are minor and inconsequential. However, significant construction defects can not only lead to property damage but could also seriously harm those who utilize this property. No matter if a construction defect is significant or minor, homeowners typically do not discover defects until long after they have moved into a property or had work done on their existing home.

Definition of Construction Defect

In most cases, a construction defect refers to a deficiency in the design, material, or workmanship that leads to some type of failure in the construction project. Further, a construction defect must have each of the three characteristics:

  • a deficiency in the construction process itself (resulting from poor design, materials, or workmanship);
  • the deficiency must lead to a failure in the structure (that’s being built during the project);
  • that failure must cause damage to a person or property (financial damages or otherwise.

A construction defect must meet each of the above criteria. However, a defect could be something as small as workmanship falling short of an owner’s expectations or as serious as a structural defect in the property.  

The Three Main Types of Construction Defects

While the three main types of construction defects are design, material, and workmanship, there are patent and latent subcategories for each type of defect. A patent defect is a defect that is obvious upon close inspection. Further, a contractor, subcontractor, or other builders should be able to easily recognize patent defects when doing a walkthrough of a property. Latent defects are those that are concealed or not easily seen. This type of defect may not even be noticeable by a skilled property inspector who reviews your home.

Most of the time, patent defects are an easy fix as they are surface-level issues that are easily accessible. On the other hand, as latent defects are not readily noticeable, they are more problematic as they are usually structural or defective system issues.

Design Defects

Design defects occur from a design professional’s faulty, inaccurate, or unorganized construction defects. Further, these defects can come to light by error or omission. Design errors usually require a redesign or replacement of a component part while a design omission can be edited through a change order.

Material Defects

Material defects refer to damage or inadequate building materials. If a manufacturer causes the material defects, the defect will usually not be found until they have already been incorporated into the project. These factors make material defects extremely expensive to fix as new materials and labor are required to remedy the issue.

Workmanship Defects

Workmanship defects are the most common type of construction defect. This type of defect occurs when a contractor does not properly build a structure or component part as stated by the construction documents. Workmanship defects can lead to both patent and latent defects depending on the type of work a contractor is doing. One factor that makes workmanship defects extremely complex is trying to determine who is liable for defects and if this person failed to abide by the property standard of care.

Contact our Law Office for More Information

At Antonoplos & Associates, our Washington DC construction attorneys can help construction company owners, contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, architects, designers, and property owners with a wide range of services before, during, and after a construction project. For more information on what is a construction defect, contact us at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys. Finally, for more information on construction law, check out our blog.