Even skilled builders can make errors in the construction process; for evidence of this, look no further than to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. But what happens when those construction defects impact you directly? For instance, what can be done about a construction defect with your own home or property?
You may have some legal resources at your disposal—but before we get into that, let’s take a closer look at what legally constitutes a construction defect.
DEFINING CONSTRUCTION DEFECTS
A construction defect could technically be any problem with your home or business, including both the minor and the major—anything from peeling paint to a major electrical defect, from leaky plumbing to cracks at the foundation. These defects can be further broken down into two major categories—patent and latent defects. The patent ones are things that can/should be caught by any reasonable home inspector. The latent ones are things that won’t necessarily materialize for months or even years down the line. For example, you may have cracks in the foundation of your home but not see any evidence of it for years. This is a latent defect.
There are numerous potential causes of a construction defect—among them:
- Poor workmanship on the part of the builder/subcontractor
- Errors made by the architect or designer of the home
- Defects with building materials
- Problems with ground/soil that cause foundation issues
Anything encompassed above could constitute a construction defect—but obviously, some of these issues are more serious than others. A major, systemic electrical issue may prompt you to arrange an inspection and consider legal action; meanwhile, such actions wouldn’t really be worth it over something miniscule, like peeling paint.
TAKING LEGAL ACTION
If you do wish to take the builder to court, trying to hold him/her responsible for the defect, your best bet is to talk with a lawyer, who can advise you on how to approach the case. Some examples here include:
- Suing for breach of contract and/or breach of warranty; or
- Suing for negligence.
One important note here is that there is a statute of limitations on when you may sue over a construction defect–that time frame varies from state to state. In Texas, it’s required that any claim of a construction defect be made within two years of discovering that defect. Moreover, the Texas Statute of Repose requires (even if filed within the statute of limitations) that any claim for construction defect be filed within 10 years of “substantial completion” of the project.
It should be noted that a construction defect is not always caused by the builder. For example, if a product or material is found to be defective, it’s possible that both the homeowner and the construction company will have a legal claim to bring against the manufacturer, seller, or distributor of that product or material.
SEEKING LEGAL REMEDY FOR A CONSTRUCTION DEFECT
Nobody likes dealing with major problems with their home or building—especially not when those problems seem like the result of negligence or of poor workmanship. The good news is, legal remedies are often available to those who identify these construction defects.
A good first step is reaching out to an inspector, who can take a look at the problem, let you know how serious it is, and possibly even diagnose it as an issue with your contractor.
To speak with a seasoned attorney about potentially filing a lawsuit or a claim, reach out to McLaurin Law—a Houston-based firm with a superlative track record in the courtroom. Make an appointment with us today!
Jason McLaurin is a founding member of McLaurin Law. He has over a decade of experience representing clients at trial, arbitration, and mediation in matters concerning insurance policyholder recovery disputes, complex commercial litigation, and catastrophic personal injury claims. He also represents businesses as outside general counsel for clients in a variety of industries including construction, oil and gas, maritime, technology, and professional services. He is licensed and handles matters in both Texas and Louisiana.