Land is expensive in New York City, and any construction project represents a major investment. When something goes wrong, there is a risk of significant financial loss. Among the many things that can go wrong in a major construction project is the discovery of construction defects.
Common construction defects include structural failures, faulty drainage, mold, dry rot, electrical problems, cracks in foundations, floors, roofs and walls and water leakage. There can be any number of causes of a construction defect, including negligent construction, defective materials, engineering problems, poor planning and site selection and negligent soil analysis and ground preparation.
Construction defects which are readily apparent are known as patent defects. Others can be hidden and may take years to discover. These are known as latent defects.
Identifying responsible parties is often a challenge in a construction defect cases. In many cases responsibility will lie with the general contractor, even if the defective work was actually performed by subcontractors or if defective materials were provided by a material supplier. The general contractor in turn will typically sue the other parties. Architects and developers can also be defendants, depending on the facts of the case. Insurance is almost always involved and many cases will involve an insurance coverage dispute.
Construction disputes often end up in court. Theories of recovery typically include breach of contract, breach of warranty and negligence. Proving responsibility for a construction defect usually requires testimony by expert witnesses who know how to investigate the defect, determine the cause and make recommendations to repair it.
In construction litigation, the factual and legal issues are often complex. Working with a law firm that has experience in this area of law can make a big difference when the stakes are high.
Source: Findlaw.com, “Construction Defect FAQs,” accessed Dec. 20, 2015