From the time we enter elementary school, we are graded on our work. Getting schoolwork back that is heavily marked up can be deflating. However, once someone is beyond their school years and in a profession, critical reviews of work can be a lot more than emotionally bruising.
In construction, defective work can result in a lawsuit that can be costly and time-consuming. Construction defects typically point to either the design of a building or its actual construction. Because there are so many different contracts wrapped into a single construction project, lawsuits regarding construction defects can be unwieldy and challenging to resolve.
Types of construction defects
Most construction defects fall into one of four categories:
- Design deficiencies
- Material deficiencies
- Construction process failures
- Operation and maintenance issues
Liability in any instance of a construction defect usually comes down to the wording in a contract. A project developer hires an architect to design the building and then hires a general contractor to build it. The general contractor often has dozens of subcontractors who handle their areas of expertise, whether that is excavation, plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC or any other aspect of the project.
General contractors typically pass liability to subcontractors through indemnification, which is included in the contracts they create. If a subcontractor indemnifies the contractor for a portion of the project, it means they will accept liability if the contractor is later sued for that work. That’s why it’s critical to enlist a knowledgeable and experienced business law firm when entering into construction contracts, whether you are the developer, general contractor or a subcontractor.
Disputes occur between contractors and subcontractors even when well-drafted contracts are used ahead of problems. It is important to seek guidance from an experienced construction defects law firm that can assess your role in the project and your level of liability.
The nature of the defect may point to the party responsible for it, but this is not always the case. For example, a problem with a building’s concrete foundation may indicate the manufacturer of the concrete is liable, but the manufacturer may claim the engineers who completed the assessment of the construction site overlooked important information that led to the concrete defects.
For contractors and subcontractors facing claims of construction defects, promptly calling an experienced construction defects lawyer is an important first step.