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How To Deal With Construction Defects On Your New Home

We all know that having a new home built is a major undertaking. Most of the time, the project turns out wonderful, and your new home is perfect. However, sometimes serious problems happen when you build a house. Promised amenities never get installed. You discover that the foundation is unsteady. The builder misrepresented the size or the house. The pipes leak, and you learn from your new contractor that they were never installed correctly in the first place. These kinds of problems can result in extensive remodeling and repair costs. They can also make living in the home unbearable, as well as cause problems when it comes time to sell.  

Some things become apparent right after you move in and other times you might not discover them until later. So, what can you do when these types of things occur? Fortunately, you have recourse if something like this happens to you.

Get An Inspection Before Your Warranty Expires

Construction defects are not always obvious, which is why it is essential to hire an independent inspector before the warranty period expires on your new home, which is usually a year or so. Without an inspection, you might not find defects for years, and by that time it could be too late to get compensation from the builder due to the statute of limitations laws.

Look Out For Common Types of Construction Defects

If you hire an inspector, they will look for signs of the most common construction defects noted below. You should also look for signs of shoddy quality. Here are some common mistakes.  

  • Slab foundation movement or cracks in the foundation -  You might notice doors that stick or don’t open properly or wall or floor cracks. Gaps around window frames or exterior windows is another sign of foundation problems.  
  • Faulty plumbing - Look for cracks or leaks in the sewer lines or leaks in the slab.
  • Leaking roof - A new roof should not leak. If you notice shingles blowing off on a new roof, it is likely a sign of a construction or materials defect.  
  • Faulty windows - Leaky windows on a new home could be the result of either construction defects or a product defect.
  • Slanting of the floors or walls -  This is usually a problem that is difficult to detect for many years, which is why it is imperative to have a home inspection before your warranty period is up.
  • Moisture problems from poor drainage or failure to waterproof - These problems often result from poorly-designed drainage systems, building on a site that does not allow for proper drainage or installing materials that are not moisture-proof.

What Should You Do If You Find A Construction Defect

Here is a step-by-step guide of what you should do if you find a construction defect.

Talk To The Builder

The first thing that you should do if you notice a construction defect is to contact the builder. Ask the builder to take care of the problem without charging you any out-of-pocket expenses.

Check Your Warranty and Homeowner’s Insurance Coverage

If the builder refuses to help, check to see if the problem is covered under the builder warranty or through your homeowner's insurance. The problem is that if these issues are due to shoddy construction or a defective product, then your warranty or insurance company probably won’t cover it.

Consult With An Attorney

In some cases, a builder may close up shop and leave town as soon as work is done. Other builders refuse to remedy the situation when it is clear that they are in the wrong. You need to go straight to a lawyer for situations like the above. Anchorage Criminal Lawyer and Construction Defect Attorney D. Scott Dattan says " in most cases, the initial consultation is free." It doesn’t hurt to get a free consultation to see if you have a case.

Types of Claims

There are several different types of legal claims that are common against builders. These include:

  • Breach of Contract - If you have a contract with a builder that specifies that they will deliver a 1,700 square foot home to you, and instead you receive a finished home that is only 1,600 square feet, you may have a breach of contract case. Since home dimensions are often calculated in different ways, you would need to determine if you do have a breach of contract case. The first step would be to obtain building permits and other materials related to the building of your home. If the builder intentionally deceived you, then you might be able to sue. But, you need a lawyer to help investigate the case for you.
  • Negligence - Let's say that a building defect caused toxic mold to grow in your home. Your son gets sick from the mold and suffers lung damage, as a result. In a case like this, you might also have a negligence lawsuit against the builder. The only way to know for sure is to talk to a lawyer. San Antonio Personal Injury Attorney and former chiropractor Dr. Louis Patino recommends getting a medical evaluation right away for any injuries that you think might have been caused by negligence.  
  • Product liability lawsuit - You have a new home built. The stove is defective, and you are electrocuted while cooking. You have suffered a severe burn from the electric shock. In this case, you may have a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the stove. Keith Williams, a Personal Injury Attorney Mt Juliet TN says that when the “manufacturing of the product is faulty and causes injury,” you could have a defective products case.  To read more about product liability or personal injury lawsuits, visit the Patino Law Firm website.

The Bottom Line

If you have discovered serious defects in your new home, the first step is to contact the builder and try to remedy the situation. If that does work, then consult an attorney.

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