Common new construction defects to watch out for

Given the cost of building or remodeling a structure, it is a reasonable expectation that the finished product will be made of quality materials and assembled correctly. But sadly, that is not always the case. Construction defects are one of the main causes of disputes and litigation in the construction industry. Defects can range from mild aesthetics to severe problems that threaten structural integrity.


What is a construction defect?

Tennessee code defines a construction defect as “a deficiency in, or a deficiency arising out of, the design, specifications, surveying, planning, supervision, observation of construction or construction of remodeling of a structure”. A construction defect is more substantial than simply shoddy workmanship; a defect generally encompasses a defect in the design, workmanship and/or the materials used that result in a component failure.

Construction defects can be readily identifiable during an inspection, or latent, appearing later on. The defects can result from defective material, code violations, design problems or failure to construct or remodel a structure in accordance with accepted trade standards.

Here are common defects found in new construction.

  • Exterior leaks: Leaks can arise from numerous areas, such as improperly waterproofed exteriors and drainage systems.
  • Leaking windows: Windows often leak as the result of improper installation. However, the window itself can be defective as well.
  • Wood floor problems: Natural wood floors need to be able to expand and contract and flooring should be acclimated to the building before being installed. Failure to acclimate the material can result in gaps and warping.
  • HAVC ventilation and exhaust problems: Ventilation problems can arise from clogged or incomplete exhaust systems. The problem can create hot and cold spots within the building.
  • Inferior material substitutions: Although most contracts allow a contractor to substitute material that is equal or better quality, often substitutions are made because a cheaper material was found. Cheaper price can translate to inferior quality.
  • Shower leaks: Large walk-in showers are a popular design in new homes, but leaks often stem from improper flashing, caulking or tile installation.
  • Roof and siding ripples: Exterior sheathing can swell and contract. Failure to leave a small gap between panels results in rippled shingles and siding panels.
  • Sagging floors: Sagging floors are often a problem in homes with an open floor plan, the load bearing walls must be placed to accommodate the weight above.
  • Improperly designed or built balconies or decks: Decks and balconies not only need to be structurally sound, they need to prevent water intrusion as well. Improper sloping and drainage systems can result in moisture and rotting.

Construction defects occur when the building has not been constructed in a quality manner. Whether from subpar craftsmanship, design or materials, construction defects should not be taken lightly. If you discover a construction defect alert the contractor right away and hopefully you can reach a resolution outside of the courtroom.

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