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  • Writer's pictureEngineer Mike

What are construction defects?

Updated: Dec 30, 2023


The construction industry standards require that developers, builders, contractors, engineers, and other trade professionals comply with generally accepted criteria, standards, and regulations in carrying out the development of a site. A construction defect occurs when a "Standard of Care" (a legal term) has not been met.


 

Standard of Care - An Important Concept


Standard of Care applies to whether or not a professional individual or entity has acted with lawfulness, watchfulness, attention, caution, and prudence that is reasonable and standard in the industry, as related to due diligence, product quality, compliance with applicable laws, building codes, and jurisdictional standards/specifications. An arbitrator or judge determines if the legal standard of care has been met.


 

Typical First Signs of Construction Defects of a Home


 

1. Cracks on the Exterior of the Home


Cracking and separation in stone veneer on the exterior of the home.
Cracks in exterior facades, such as stone, siding, or stucco, can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 

2. Drywall Cracks Around Wall Openings on the Interior of the Home


Drywall crack at wall opening above column on the interior of the home.
Drywall cracks and separations on walls and wall openings can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 

3. Drywall Cracks and Trim Separations at Doorframes


Drywall crack and trim separation at the top right corner of interior door.
Drywall cracks around and damage to exterior and interior doors can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 


 

4. Drywall Cracks and Trim Separations at Doorframes


Diagonal drywall crack at the bottom left corner of window.
Drywall cracks around windows can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 

5. Doors that are Difficult to Open and Close


Out-of-square interior door.
Out-of-square exterior and interior doorframes can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 


 

6. Cracked and Heaved Garage Floors


Cracked and heaved garage floor.
Cracks, heaving, or settlement of slab-on-grade in the garage can be the first indicators of construction defects.

 

7. Cracked and Heaved Basement Floors


Cracks in basement floor.
Cracks, heaving, or settlement of the basement slab-on-grade floor can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 


 

8. Cracks Visible on the Exterior of the Foundation


Vertical crack on the exterior of the foundation wall.
Foundation cracks can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 

9. Moisture and Staining in the Basement or Crawlspace


Moisture and staining along the base and corner of wall in basement.
Moisture problems in a basement can indicate a soil or grading problem due to the lack of maintenance or construction defects.

 


 

10. Cracks in Drywall in the Garage


Drywall crack and separation at drywall joint on garage ceiling.
Drywall cracks and separations on walls and ceilings can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 

11. Floor or Tile Cracks


Crack in floor tile.
Broken or separated tile can be one of the first indicators of construction defects.

 

12. Floor Movement


Separation between wood floor and floor trim and between trim sections.
Flooring distress and separations in trim can be the first indicators of construction defects.

 

13. Separations Between Drywall and Countertops or Cabinets


Damage on drywall and separation between wall and countertop.
Separations between countertops in kitchens or bathrooms can be the first indicators of construction defects.

 

Not all damage is caused by construction defects.


Damage can simply be the result of the owner's lack of proper maintenance or site modifications. Whether or not damage to a structure or element is due to a design or construction defect needs to be determined by a qualified forensic professional who can evaluate the project as a whole through documentation, observation, review of data, and measurements


 


 

Standard of Care


Forensic engineers, architects, surveyors, and other construction professionals are engaged to provide opinions regarding the "Standard of Care" and how the actions of the developer, contractor, engineer, or architect have resulted in construction defects.


When proven through litigation, design, and construction defects have a monetary value because the conditions need to be repaired, or they contribute to a reduced typical useful life, which requires more maintenance and earlier replacement than expected, increasing the owner's financial burden.



 

I hope this information was helpful to you. For additional topics related to construction defects, go to SiteDamage.com.


Visit my photo collections page, which has examples of damage that can be due to construction defects.  





Mike

Engineer Mike





 


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