You can hire the best architect, the best general contractor and the best construction workers in the Raleigh area, but it may mean nothing if the materials used are inferior, counterfeit or substandard. Perhaps the word counterfeit caught your attention. People counterfeit money and designer goods, not construction materials. Right?
Unfortunately, it does happen. Overseas factories use weak manufacturing standards and low-grade steel to make passable metal construction components that others fraudulently pass off as the original products. The cost of these fake parts is obviously lower than the original, superior products, which means that sellers can undercut those selling the genuine articles.
Why doesn't everyone know about this?
The easier answer to accept may be the fact that a seasoned construction company doesn't want to admit that they foolishly purchased fake, substandard items instead of the real materials. In some cases, no one realizes that the materials are counterfeit until they fail.
It may be safe to say that these products are not up to the current industry standards. In addition to posing a threat to the safety of construction workers and the public, they may need more frequent and costly repairs and fail to function as intended.
What to look for when purchasing construction materials
Numerous red flags exist that could indicate that a material is substandard, counterfeit or inferior:
- The price seems off because it's too low or too far outside the norm.
- The materials come from locations that are suspect.
- The materials fail to come with a certificate of conformance.
- You can't verify the chain of ownership.
- The identification numbers on the product are suspicious.
- The materials contain design flaws and fail to be the right size.
- The size, color and shape aren't right.
- The product contains prohibited materials.
- A visual inspection reveals resurfacing, alterations or evidence of refinishing, repair or reworking in some way.
Even the packaging can provide clues as to whether the materials are genuine. You may want to look for quality differences as well. The problem is that some counterfeits appear quite close to the real thing. Without substantial testing and inspection, they may pass for the real thing without anyone knowing until something goes wrong.
The example of inferior drywall
To give an example of how pervasive the problem of counterfeit construction materials is, fake drywall products made in China were distributed to 20 states here in the U.S. and put into approximately 100,000 homes. As heat and humidity hit the drywall, it began to release dangerous chemicals and gases in the sulfuric family. Buildings in which the drywall couldn't be replaced were destroyed
The people living in the homes that contained the inferior drywall reported that they suffered from respiratory issues, such as breathing difficulties, chronic coughing and asthma attacks, along with sinus issues and chronic headaches.
This is just one example of the damage inferior, counterfeit or substandard building materials can present, but the materials don't have to be large to cause problems. Even rivets and screws that are not subject to industry standards could present a problem. Fortunately, the type of widespread damage such as in the drywall incident doesn't happen much anymore, but that doesn't mean construction companies should let their guards down.
Has the damage been done already?
More than likely, you relied on your general contractor to ascertain that all of the materials used on your project met with current industry standards and were the genuine article. If you discover later that inferior products were used in the construction of your structure, you may need to conduct an investigation to uncover all of the responsible parties. You could discover that more than one party may bear responsibility for the damage done. In order to be sure, it may be a good idea to explore your legal rights and options.