What options do homeowners have in construction defect cases?

Jul 29 2020      On Behalf of  David M. Duree & Associates, P.C.      Construction And Engineering Disputes

It’s one of those moments when your heart seems to stop: When you realize that the new home construction has a serious defect. The home for which you saved, prepared and spent so much of your own income has a serious problem that will cause possibly years of extra construction and costly repairs.

What is a construction defect?

According to Modern Contracting Solutions, there are patent and latent defects. Latent defects are the ones that cannot be readily observed, and patent defects are obvious on any reasonable inspection.

Generally, patent defects are uncovered before the project is finished and most contractors will handle them right away. The bigger problem is usually latent defects that you don’t know about until possibly years after the project is finished.

There are two basic types of defects: Design defects and workmanship defects. A design defect is some problem in the design or omission that negatively impacts the structure. In a workmanship defect, the construction people – contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc. – make some kind of error in their work.

What options do you have?

Most people don’t have legal training or experience handling construction defect claims.

If you have uncovered a defect in your new construction, you have a couple of options:

  • Negotiate a solution: Most general contractors, architects and others in the construction industry do not want to go to court. But they also probably don’t want to take the time to fix their mistakes or compensate you appropriately. Therefore, it usually takes some savvy negotiation to avoid having to bring a lawsuit to court to get the problem fixed.
  • A legal claim: If the party responsible for the defect is not willing to fix the problem or compensate you appropriately, you have the right to bring a claim. There are numerous legal options for bringing a claim, including breach of contract, fraud or violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.

The best thing to do is talk with an experienced attorney who knows the nuances of litigation in Missouri. An experienced lawyer can look at your situation and help you determine the best course of action.

The important thing to remember is that you have rights and you have options. It is important to get started right away on your claim, as there are statutes of limitations involved that could bar your claim after a certain amount of time. The time varies based on the type of claim, so don’t delay.