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The Impact and Evaluation of Construction Defects

As you may know, the purchase and maintenance of a property are accompanied by difficult decisions, daunting tasks, and unforeseen complications. One of the most stressful aspects of this process is the potential for construction defects. Construction defects are unfortunately common, and can range from minor to major, with potential for long term risks to occupants and the public and significant damage to the property itself. Improper construction can result in water intrusion, failing roofs, leaking pipes, faulty electrical systems, and more. Construction defects can result from design deficiencies, material deficiencies, construction/installation deficiencies and subsurface deficiencies. Hidden, or “latent” defects can be problematic because they can go unnoticed for months or years, while, for example, water intrusion does unseen damage to underlying structural elements. Such occurrences drive up the cost of repairs and remediation. 

In addition to the financial burden of repair costs, construction deficiencies can affect the value of a property, or require temporary relocation of occupants during repairs.  Alleged defects can range from something as simple as popped nails and peeling paint to deeper structural issues requiring major reconstruction.   There are typically many project stakeholders including designers, contractors, suppliers, etc., therefore, it can be challenging to distinguish where the blame lands. It is also important to evaluate the role of the operations and maintenance of the property during periods of alleged construction defect related damages. 

When construction defects are claimed, it is important for the forensic engineer to evaluate all available information about the property, to put the claimed defects in context with the age of the construction, the original design, building codes, and good maintenance practices.  When available, construction contracts and documents (plans and specifications), along with trade subcontracts and building product information all paint a picture to be analyzed. 

CED’s engineers perform investigations involving alleged construction defects at residencies and commercial properties to document the issues, uncover the cause, determine responsibility.  Working with an expert to investigate a constructive defect case can help ensure a smooth evaluation that leads to clarity on the situation.  

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