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Understanding a defect versus an error in construction

Before you seek out a lawsuit for construction defects, it's a good idea to look into whether the defect was naturally occurring or if it's a result of mistakes made by your construction team. Construction defects are a common cause of disputes and lawsuits, and this comes down to the fact that definitions vary between states.

Typically, it's understood that defects are defects in the design, workmanship or materials used in a project that then results in the failure of part or all of that structure or project.

In many cases, this leads to financial damage. For instance, if a supporting beam in a home gives out because of a defect, the homeowner may have to move out until it's safe to live in the home again. This could be costly, not only because of having to replace the beam for stability, but also because of the potential for damage to other parts of the home along with hotel costs and other financial losses.

Are construction errors and defects the same?

Not always, although poor workmanship could include mistakes being made. Errors, which could be as blatant as using nails when screws are needed, are just as bad for homeowners and also need to be addressed.

What do you need to do if you suspect a defect following a construction project?

The first thing to do is to talk to the team in charge of the project. Sometimes, materials have defects that are unexpected. A construction firm generally wants to take care of defects quickly and make sure you, the client, are satisfied with the work. Many insure their work and guarantee it for a length of time.

If you see there is a problem, you should address that issue early on. For example, if you note the walls have felt damp despite having them recently repaired, you may want to contact the construction firm as soon as possible to make sure they're aware that there is still an issue. There may be a natural timeline for drying or an issue with materials that the firm needs to look into.

If talking to the construction firm doesn't help, then it's possible to pursue a resolution through mediation, arbitration or by going to court. The majority of cases will settle outside court, either through repairs being made or a homeowner receiving compensation when it's necessary based on the facts of the case.

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