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Determining the party responsible for construction defects

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2020 | Commercial Disputes |

New York construction contracts are often the centerpiece of a project. If something goes wrong despite precautions, you may experience a significant financial loss. Negligent construction, engineering problems and defective materials can put your real estate project at risk. We often represent clients in real estate litigation or arbitration. 

According to Modern Contractor Solutions, the difficulty in identifying construction defects comes from the parties’ differing interests and viewpoints. These differences often result in litigation. 

Types of construction defects

A construction defect encompasses more than defective workmanship. It applies to the design and materials or systems used in a project as well as the quality of work. Issues that are readily obvious upon reasonable inspection or known are patent defects. Contractors typically deal with these due to frequent, regular inspections that take place throughout your project. Those who do not take the opportunity and rectify the issues may find themselves in breach of contract. 

Latent defects exist at the time of construction but remain undetected until after the completion of your project. Examples of latent defect include the following: 

  • Structural beams that meet size, grade and color requirements but are understrength 
  • Pavement that gives way as a result of the loss of supporting subgrade 
  • Roof leaks that cause damage to building components and mold growth 
  • Insufficient foundations and footings that result in part of the structure sinking 

Standard of care

Potential liability rests on various parties, including the design professionals, consultants, contractors and subcontractors. Although contractors are responsible for performing work according to workmanship standards, design professionals are responsible for making sure the contract meets applicable ordinances, statutes, and laws. 

You may believe that the contractor used substandard materials, but the problem may lie with other parties. Assessing the damage and understanding the various roles different parties play make construction litigation in New York a challenge. Depending on the situation, your dispute may result in a breach of contract suit or become a structural failure case.