Defects in construction can cause a number of problems for property owners and contractors. Some problems are easy to resolve and cause little more than a brief delay or minimal added costs. Other problems, however, are far more troubling and difficult to resolve.

Whatever type of construction defect you may be dealing with, it could lead to legal action and an expensive lawsuit. As such, readers should be aware of some potential defenses to construction defects before they make any decisions regarding legal options and proposed settlements.

There are numerous defenses to construction defect claims; below, we briefly examine three of the more common approaches.

  1. The problem is not caused by a defect. Leaks, electrical problems, and mold are all commonly cited in construction defect claims. However, to determine if these issues are the result of a defect or something else, a thorough investigation should be done. In some cases, there is another explanation for the problems.
  2. Someone else is liable for the defect. Assigning liability can be very complicated because often several parties are involved in a construction project. It is important to hold the appropriate party accountable. For instance, an engineer may not be liable for defective workmanship, and a shower door installer may not be liable for water intruding into the floor below.
  3. The project was completed 10 or more years ago. As specified in California laws, actions to recover damages for a latent defect are limited to the 10 years following substantial completion of the project, unless there are claims of fraud or misconduct. 

These defenses reflect the fact that construction defect claims tend to be highly technical, emotional and involve many parties. To resolve them satisfactorily, parties must be well- versed in construction issues, or work with an attorney who is.