Table of Contents: Types of Construction Defects
Construction Design Defects
Construction workers, contractors, and construction companies are responsible for manufacturing a product that complies with all of the necessary industry standards so it is reasonably safe for those who will occupy it. Unfortunately, errors in building design can cause severe injury and cost millions to repair. Construction design defects differ slightly from construction defects. A pure construction defect means a structure would have performed as intended had there not been a mistake in the building process. A design defect means that even if the structure had been manufactured perfectly, it still would have resulted in damage.
You may be able to file a claim against a developer, contractor, architect, or even a bank for this defect. Defects in the design go to the root of the structure and begin on the architect's desk. Any defects in design should be caught before being implemented. If the defect is missed, this can present a major liability. Contractors in many states are required to submit a written document stating that the structure is in good repair upon completion. Unfortunately, construction workers and other entities will try to shift the liability onto the building owner.
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Poor Workmanship in Construction
Poor workmanship is frequently the root cause of defects. Defects from poor workmanship devalue property and can lead to additional damage. Even quality building products, if installed or misused, may fail.
Poor workmanship is often the real cause of construction defects such as:
- Broken floor tiles
- Crumbling grout
- Peeling paint
- Other problems
- Leaking roofs, windows, and doors
- Doors and windows that don't open
Nearly every building product available requires that certain conditions exist and instructions be followed to ensure proper installation, performance, and product longevity. For example, a quality paint applied to a dirty or oily surface can reasonably be expected to fail, not because the product was defective but because it was applied poorly. Poor workmanship is so commonplace that it should be suspected as a potential root cause of almost any construction defect until it can be ruled out. Construction requires quality-conscious, professional tradesmen and women at nearly every stage. When construction companies employ unskilled labor without adequate training and supervision, poor workmanship in construction is the predictable result.
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Construction Material Defects
When Material Defects Cause Damage, We're There to Recoup Your Losses
Defective materials can result in the premature failure of structural and other components, leading to direct and indirect property damages as a result. When builders use substandard materials when constructing a home or commercial property, they expose property owners to the risk of premature failure of the structure or its components. Roofs that leak, windows that leak, paints/sealants that don't hold up to the weather, fixtures that corrode, and rust all are signs that inferior building materials may have been used in construction.
Material defects can lead to other problems as well. When roofing material fails, it allows water intrusion that can damage walls, flooring, and other parts of a structure. Structural materials play a huge role in the safety and longevity of a structure. When substandard or defective structural materials are employed in construction, damage can spread to all parts of a structure, and the safety of a structure may even be in question.
What Problems Can Defective Construction Materials Cause?
All of the materials used in construction are essential to ensuring the safety of everyone working on the project and using or living in the building after it's completed. Construction materials must be free from defects to preserve the property's value as well. Defective materials can cause water leaks, electrical problems, structural collapses, or fires. Contractors, builders, and manufacturers responsible for creating and using such materials should be held accountable in court for any resulting loss in property value, damage, or injury.
What Are Construction Material Defects?
Timber, cement, metal, concrete, clay, electrical wiring, insulation, glass, architectural hardware, plumbing, drywall, paint, stucco, roofing—these are all types of construction materials that may be used to build or renovate a residential or commercial building. There are many others. Defects occur in substandard materials, materials that are designed improperly, misused, or have been produced/manufactured incorrectly.
Who Is Responsible for Defective Materials?
Efforts to reduce construction cost can lead to the use of substandard and potentially defective construction materials with damaging consequences. These cases can be challenging to prove. Defective material may be the manufacturer's fault or may be the result of a conscious decision on the part of a designer or builder. However, builders may be guilty of misrepresentation, unfair business practices, or negligence when a home or commercial building is not suitable for its intended purpose because of substandard or defective materials.
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Electrical Defects During Construction
What Are Signs of Serious Electrical Defects?
Defects in the planning, designing, and installation of an electrical system can be more than an inconvenience. Electrical defects can create shock and fire hazards, leading to serious injuries or loss of property.
Possible signs of a defective electrical system include:
- Circuit breakers that continually overload and trip
- Electrical wiring that gets hot
- Frequent or intermittent local power surges or brownouts
- Failures of electrical appliances and HVAC equipment
Electrical defects may source from the following:
- Poor planning and design of the electrical system
- Use of defective or substandard materials
- Use of unskilled labor for installation
If you believe you have an electrical defect, do not attempt to fix it yourself. It is critical to hire a qualified electrician to troubleshoot and diagnose the problem and speak to a lawyer. Once properly diagnosed, a strategy for redesigning and repairing the system can be devised.
How Can an Electrical Defect Damage My Home or Business?
A defect in any of your property's electrical systems can have serious consequences. At the least, a defect can affect energy efficiency or the effectiveness of AC, electrical appliances, and other systems that run on electricity. At the worst, an electrical defect can pose safety hazards, causing electrocution, electrical injury, or a fire. Your property may be significantly damaged, and you be injured as well. When this happens, you deserve the chance to seek fair compensation from the at-fault party. That's where our team at Arnold & Itkin can help.
How Can I Prove It Was an Electrical Defect?
Proving an electrical defect can be difficult, but with the right resources and experience, it can be done. A skilled electrician and investigator can assess the problem to see if it was poor planning, substandard materials, poor workmanship, or a defective product. The next step will be to prove this so you can recover money for repairs, lost property value, and other losses from the responsible contractor, builder, or manufacturer.
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Landscape & Soil Defects in Construction
When Construction Isn't Done Right, Our Firm Holds Responsible Parties Liable
Construction defects can include electrical units, water pipes, and even landscape and soil defects.
Two types of soil can cause issues if the proper strategy is not used in installation:
- Expansive Soils
Expansive soil expands. In this case, the soil can swell and create pressure that may cause cracks and sinks in your landscaping, even shifting the pavement.
- Collapsing Soils
This type of soil is loosely packed and can become mushy and clay-like. If not correctly installed, collapsing soils can cause cracks in pavement and retaining walls.
The soil on your property can also become contaminated by chemicals. This contamination can happen if a tank is punctured during construction or when waste is dumped into the soil. Soil contamination can even affect your water supply, so accurate installation of landscaping and soil is essential.
According to the California Statutes of Limitation for Construction Defects: "Soils shall not cause the land upon which the structure is built to become unusable for the purpose for which the land is to be used."
This goes for as long as ten years after completion. Landscaping defects deal with anything from pathways to patios, but no violations can be brought more than four years after the close of escrow.
If something is determined a defect, the contractor must have it fixed or fix it themselves.
What Areas of Properties Are Affected by Landscape or Soil Defects?
Some areas of a property are more likely to suffer from soil and landscape defects than others. Certain structures can fail if they are not built correctly and on the correct soil type.
Structures that are most affected by landscape and soil defects include:
- Retaining walls
If the foundation of your home or a retaining wall in your building fails, you're looking at thousands of dollars in damage—and even the possibility of serious injuries if it collapses. Some landscape and soil defects cause a ripple effect, damaging adjoining walls, structures, plumbing, electrical systems, appliances, and more.
What Types of Soil Problems Occur in the Houston Area?
The soil in Houston and throughout Harris County includes various components, including sand, loam, and clay. The most prominent soil type in Houston proper is dark gumbo clay, or black soil, which is susceptible to erosion and water problems. Your contractor should be familiar with the type of soil in your area and should take necessary precautions to protect your property and complete your project without significant defects that could cause considerable damage in the future. If your landscaping project, home, or commercial building has been affected by soil defects, you should talk to an attorney about what you can do to recoup your losses.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Landscape & Soil Defects?
Builders, contractors, and landscaping companies may be held accountable for landscape and soil defects that damage or devalue your property. They must use suitable materials for the jobs they perform and anticipate problems with the types of soil in the area where your property is located. Because these cases can be complex, be sure you work with a team of construction defect lawyers experienced with soil defects.
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Water Intrusion Defects in Construction
Water intrusion is a serious problem that can cause permanent damage to structures and have long-lasting health implications for occupants. When moisture finds its way into a structure from a leaking roof, plumbing, poorly draining landscape, or other, it can immediately damage floors, walls, furniture, and more. In extreme cases, water intrusion is apparent. It is easy to spot where water is standing or when a section of wall collapses. In other cases, the evidence may be more subtle, appearing as stains, damp carpet, swollen wood trim, or rust stains. These symptoms suggest the presence of water intrusion, but the cause of a leak may not be apparent.
Impact of Water Intrusion on Structures & Buildings
The immediate impact of water intrusion is apparent in its effect on structures and materials. However, when moisture is present in building materials, there is also the possibility of the outbreak and growth of molds. Unfortunately, damage from mold growth is often hidden behind walls, in insulation, and beneath floor coverings. Mold damage can be extensive because microscopic mold spores are easily distributed throughout the structure via the air handling systems. Anywhere there is adequate moisture to support mold growth, the spores can germinate and reproduce, leading to unsafe mold levels that can threaten the health of occupants.
Some types of mold can be toxic, even in small quantities. For this reason, water intrusion defects must be taken seriously and repaired as soon as identified. If the water intrusion defect has resulted in mold growth, immediate remediation measures should be taken. In severe mold cases, remediation may require eviction from the property until the health threat is contained and the property is safe to occupy.
Visible mold is easily identified, but mold growth hidden behind walls and beneath flooring, in AC ducts, and other out-of-sight places can be impossible to locate without the assistance of expert technicians. An industrial hygienist can take surface and air samples throughout the structure, analyze them in a lab, and quantify the mold levels in the structure. If unsafe mold levels are detected, remediation will be necessary.
How Can I Prove a Water Intrusion Defect?
If your property was damaged or devalued because of a water intrusion defect, you will need to prove both the existence of the defect and its cause to recover compensation from the at-fault party. These are complex cases that may require the investigation and testimony of an expert witness in construction defects. At Arnold & Itkin, we have a network of investigators and experts who help us build robust cases against negligent contractors, builders, and manufacturers for water intrusion defects. We're here to help you rebuild.
What Causes Water Intrusion?
Water intrusion may be caused by faulty plumbing, roof or flooring defects, slope or building envelope issues, or other construction defects. If any part of a building is not fully waterproof, rain or other water can cause damage. A window that's not sealed correctly may let in water from rain or even sprinklers nearby. Faulty plumbing in a retail store could cause a leak that eventually leads to the entire ceiling caving in. By determining the cause of water intrusion, we can assign fault and help you recover financial compensation.
How Do I Know if I Have a Water Intrusion Defect Claim?
Water intrusion can cause serious damage to a home or commercial building. It can affect large portions of the structure and can even lead to the development of toxic mold, which not only puts your health at risk but requires expensive mold remediation. If you suffered financial losses and/or physical harm because of water intrusion, you may have a case against the builder or contractor responsible for the defect. Our team can talk to you about your situation and consider the facts at hand to see if you have a claim.
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Office Park, Condo & HOA: Construction Defects in Multi-Tenant Developments
Office parks, condominiums, and homeowner associations can seek damages from companies responsible for losses caused by construction defects. The same errors in planning, design, materials, and workmanship that can impact single-tenant structures can afflict an entire condo development, office park, or neighborhood with the potential to cause significant financial losses for property owners. Lawsuits for construction defects in condos and communities can be brought by a homeowners association representing its members' combined interests. Commercial property owners, condominiums, and homeowners associations can bring suits to recover damages for construction problems with roadways, landscapes, and shared infrastructures.
Construction defect lawsuits often involve:
- Street collapses
- Utility failures
- Drainage and sewage problems
- Building Collapses
- Serious erosion problems
Developers and construction companies are expected to carefully evaluate the suitability of construction sites in the planning process. Through careful survey and examination of the intended roadway, parking lot, and foundation locations, they should determine whether factors like expansive or collapsing soils exist that would threaten the long-term stability of the construction. Before building, they should take measures to stabilize the underlying surfaces to ensure that the structure will not collapse. Failure to do so may constitute negligence.
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Contact a Houston Construction Defect Lawyer at (888) 493-1629
If you have suffered a serious loss as a result of a personal injury, unfair business practices, or negligence related to a construction defect, you should consult with an experienced Houston business litigation lawyer to learn more about your options. At Arnold & Itkin, our legal team has extensive experience in the area of business litigation and construction defect law that can be used to your advantage when filing a claim.
We understand that this may be a frustrating, emotional, or financially devastating time in the lives of victims, and we do everything in our power to ensure that our clients are compensated for what they have lost. When dealing with a matter relating to a construction defect or a defect in the structure of your building, you may be entitled to claim compensation from those responsible for your loss, and we can help you seek it.
For a free consultation, contact a Houston construction defect attorney at Arnold & Itkin by calling (888) 493-1629. We fight for the results clients need because every case is personal.