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I found a defect in my home's construction! What can I do?

Many people in North Carolina purchase homes, but not as many are able to have a home built to their specifications in which no one else has ever lived. You painstakingly chose its design, paint and flooring, among other things. You may have even stopped by the construction site often to watch the progress.

Unless you are a construction contractor yourself, you more than likely relied on a company to build your home for you. At first glance, your new home appeared to be the personification of the image you had in your head. Then, something goes wrong, and you realize that your home has a defect in its construction.

Not all construction defects are created equal

Two types of construction defects exist:

  • Latent defects are ones that you may not discover until years after the construction.
  • Patent defects are ones that your inspector discovered.

In either case, you could end up with an expensive and time-consuming fix. Regardless of whether the defect is latent or patent, your home needs a thorough inspection to confirm the defect and search for others that may also exist.

Not all construction defects happen the same way

Construction defects often occur due to one of the following issues:

  • The foundation may not be solid due to problems with the soil.
  • The architect or design team may have left something out during the construction.
  • The materials used in the construction may have defects.
  • The workmanship left much to be desired.

One or more of these issues could mean serious issues for your home. You likely relied on your general contractor to ensure that none of these issues happened. So what are you to do when that person lets you down?

Not all contractors adhere to their contracts

While someone else inspects your home, your contract requires inspection as well. Finding a defect could constitute a breach of that contract. In addition, determine what warranties, if any, you received in reference to the construction. Most warranties have a time limit, and if you discover the defect within that time, the contractor may have breached the warranty.

Your contract may outline the use of an alternative method to resolve your issues other than through litigation. You may be bound to participate in mediation or arbitration. If these efforts fail, you may be able to file a lawsuit depending on the circumstances.

Not all claims require proof of negligence

You may be able to prove negligence on the part of the construction company, but it may not always be necessary. If you can't live in your home because the defect makes it uninhabitable, the company may be liable regardless of negligence through strict liability.

Not all claims can be handled alone

You more than likely have numerous questions regarding a potential claim. You may not understand some of the wording in your contract or understand the warranties provided to you by the construction company. Is it possible that you could hold other parties legally responsible (i.e. material suppliers) as well? As you can see, claims regarding construction defects can become complex rather quickly. It may be to your benefit to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney who handles these cases on a regular basis.

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