Who is Liable for Specific Construction Defects?
Moving into a new house is an exciting time for the homeowner. From deciding on paint colors and carpet textures, homeowners usually make many decisions to customize their new homes to their particular tastes. In some cases, homeowners may be able to make various decisions on the construction of the house. Since many homeowners are not construction experts, they typically will trust the knowledge and expertise of those persons or entities involved in the construction industry to ensure that the house is built soundly. In most cases, this trust is well-founded. However, in some cases, defects may appear in the construction, and retaining the services of an attorney experienced in construction defect law may be crucial to obtaining reimbursement for damages caused by defective construction. Recently, the owner of a number of multi-family community sued the developer, alleging that the developer failed to correct so many construction defects that the community was condemned. This case illustrates what homeowners must do to collect reimbursement for defects, and a focus on exactly which person or entity is liable for a specific construction defect will be explored below.
Construction defects are deficiencies in a completed construction project that may or may not be readily apparent from the time of occupancy. Such defects maybe patent, meaning that they are obvious and easily discoverable. Defects which are not obvious and, consequently, may not be discovered until years after the project was completed are known as latent defects:
- Water leaks, due to improperly installed windows and doors, badly constructed roofs, or within any other aspect of the house involving water, such as shower enclosures;
- Structural cracking, such as in concrete, walls (sheetrock, for example), etc.
- Conditions that cause mold;
- Improper foundation, causing moisture to flow from the floors, or soil settlement and drainage issues; and
- Finishing issues, such as cabinetry, tile, and paint.
If a defect is discovered, it is incumbent upon the homeowner to use the Florida construction defect law to obtain reimbursement from the appropriate person or entity. Depending on the defect, the following persons or entities will most likely be liable for the defect:
- Typically, the contractor will be held liable if it does not comply with the specifications for the house, and a defect results from this noncompliance. Even if the contractor complies with the specifications, if the contractor is aware that a particular aspect of the specification is defective, and, yet, continues pursuant to the specification, the contractor can be held liable for any resulting defect.
- Architects and Engineers. These individuals, known as design professionals, can be held liable for defects occurring as a result of the failure to exercise reasonable care and judgment in performing their duties.
- In some cases, private inspectors who are required to inspect work to ensure compliance with the specifications can be held liable for defects that could have been detected through a reasonable inspection.
- Product Manufacturers. Construction defects that result from a product failure may subject the manufacturer to liability.
Seek Legal Advice
If you are a homeowner and suffered damage to your property as a result of a defect in the construction, and you are curious about potential claims and who the responsible party may be, talk to an experienced construction defects attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. have knowledge and experience in Florida construction defect law, including determining who, exactly, is the most appropriate person or entity to seek reimbursement, and will work with you formulate a viable strategy to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact our Jupiter office today.