Commercial Defect Litigation
It’s hard to drive through Long Island without seeing some sort of construction going on. Every construction project is complex. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of building codes that must be met, and all sorts of technology are used to make sure standards are met. Even so, errors can occur, and defects can be introduced even before construction is completed.
A construction defect exists when a building doesn’t meet building codes or terms of the contract. This could include improper framing, a faulty foundation, and other issues. Construction defects can occur in new buildings or could be discovered in older homes and commercial spaces as well.
At TonaLaw, we understand how defects can impact your commercial or residential building. We are also familiar with the laws that allow you to take legal action so you can get defects corrected without having to pay for costly repairs. Give us a call today at 1-833-TONALAW or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation with a Long Island construction defect attorney.
Common Types of Construction Defects
Construction defects are often separated into two categories: obvious and latent. If there is going to be a construction defect, you want them to be obvious. That way, they can be addressed before construction ends with minimal costs. Examples of obvious defects are using the wrong-sized beams or the incorrect type of concrete for the foundation.
Unfortunately, most construction defects are latent. That means they are present at the time of construction but aren’t discovered until later, sometimes years after. For example, the concrete used for the foundation may not have been laid properly and could crack a few years down the road. Or you could be dealing with progressive latent defects in construction, such as steel beams that may have looked correct, but may not have been galvanized properly — and end up rusting out years down the road.
It’s also important to note the difference between a defect and the manifestation of the defect. The manifestation of the defect is the appearance of the structure that shows a defect is there. For example, a driveway cracking may be the manifestation of a defect in the foundation of a house. Both the manifestation and the defect itself usually have to be addressed.
Defects that our Long Island construction litigation lawyers often see include:
- Components that don’t work as intended: These defects may include windows that aren’t as wind-resistant as they were supposed to be or concrete that isn’t as strong as it should be. Electrical or other systems that don’t work properly can also fall into this category.
- Deviations from blueprints: Blueprints and other plans or specifications are prepared by the architect, engineers, surveyors, and other professionals. If there is a deviation from these plans, even down to the type of materials used, it could lead to an obvious or, more likely, latent defect.
- Building code violations: When plans are being drawn up for new construction, building codes are one of the top priorities. All buildings, whether new or old, must meet standards set forth by New York law. If building codes are violated, it could lead to legal and other troubles down the road.
- Premature deterioration of components or construction: Elements of a building are supposed to last for a certain amount of time. For instance, a residential roof with asphalt shingles may be rated to last 20 years. But if these elements deteriorate well before they are supposed to, it can be considered a construction defect.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Construction Defects?
There are a few different parties that can be held liable for obvious and latent defects in construction. At TonaLaw, our Long Island construction attorneys have the knowledge and experience to identify the at-fault party and hold them accountable. One or all of these parties could potentially be liable for construction defects:
The contractor and their subcontractors are responsible for constructing buildings properly, as well as performing maintenance and repairs on buildings when they are hired to do so. They must also set the plan for how construction will be performed, and buying the proper equipment and materials needed for the project.
If contractors do not perform their duties in accordance with the specifications and plans laid out in blueprints and other documents in a “workmanlike manner,” they can be held liable for construction defects. In addition, if a contractor knows the plans are defective and doesn’t bring the matter to the architect or owner, they can be held liable for defects.
Designers include architects and engineers who craft blueprints and other plans for the construction. They may be involved in the process from start to finish, or they could simply prepare plans for contractors and other parties to execute.
No matter how involved the designers are in the process, if they don’t exercise reasonable judgment and care in their work, they may be held liable for construction defects. For example, an architect or engineer who creates a house plan that doesn’t take into account the possibility of water overflowing from a bathtub on a second floor can be held liable if the bathroom floor begins to rot or otherwise becomes damaged.
Though construction is done by contractors and other parties, building owners can also be held liable for construction defects. For example, an owner who fails to maintain their property or inaccurately reports the condition of the property before construction begins may be responsible for any construction defects.
For homeowners and commercial building owners, that may mean being responsible for repairing any defects that appear in their property. It may also mean being responsible for injuries that occur because of the defect, such as a roof caving in or a crack in a driveway causing someone to trip and fall.
Finally, the manufacturer of materials used in the construction process can be held liable if those materials fail. For instance, water sealants that don’t actually stop water leakage can cause a latent defect. Or, a boiler that isn’t constructed correctly can suddenly burst or explode.
When product defects cause the issues in construction, the manufacturer can be held liable for any construction defects that result. If those defects only cause economic loss, they can be responsible for fixing the problem and providing adequate compensation. However, if injuries occur, the manufacturer can be held liable for those injuries.
Work with a Long Island Construction Attorney Today
If you own a building that has obvious or latent defects in construction, and the designer, owner, contractor or manufacturer refuses to take responsibility, you have legal options. At TonaLaw, our experienced construction lawyers have over 30 years of combined experience holding these parties accountable.