A Video Explaining Some Construction Defects that Result in Claims or Litigation
Construction Defects That Need Insurance to Respond
Construction defects are any deficiencies in the performance or completion of the design, planning, supervision, inspection, or construction for any new building or structure that has been remodeled or undergone repairs.
Understanding what a construction defect is has become so complex that states have begun to define them by statute. For example, construction defects are defined as a “violation of statutory performance standards for every building component in a dwelling” for any new residential construction sold after January 1, 2003, in California.
Under Illinois law, it is well-established that a construction defect is not an “occurrence” or “accident”; rather, it is the natural and ordinary consequence of poor workmanship.
Since almost anything in a construction project can go wrong, this chapter will only deal with the kinds of construction defects that have caused, and will continue to cause, major damage to property and serious problems for occupants of structures.
Courts across North America have recognized the following major, albeit not all-inclusive, construction defect categories:
Design Deficiencies ¾ where design professionals, such as architects or engineers, design buildings that do not function as intended or specified. The motivation for the design may be form, function, aesthetics, or cost considerations, but the result is a defect.
Material Deficiencies ¾ use of inferior building materials causing problems, such as leaky windows, or deterioration of flashing, building paper, waterproofing membranes, asphalt roofing shingles, particle board, drywall, or other products. Leaking windows are a common claim of defect and prevention requires good workmanship. Window leaks can result from many things including, rough framing not being flush with outside at openings, improperly flashed windows, improperly applied building paper, window frame that is racked during storage or moving, or lack of sheet metal drip edge above window header.
Construction Deficiencies ¾ substandard workmanship often manifested by water intrusion, cracked foundations, floor slabs, or walls, dry rotted wood or other building materials, termite or other pest infestations, electrical and mechanical problems, plumbing leaks and back-ups, lack of appropriate sound insulation, and/or other problems related to poor quality work. Poor quality workmanship often is seen by property owners as water infiltration through some portion of the building structure. Cracks in foundations, floor slabs, walls, dry rotting of wood or other building materials, termite or other pest infestations, electrical and mechanical problems, plumbing leaks and back-ups, lack of appropriate sound insulation and fire-resistive construction between adjacent housing units.
© 2020 – Barry Zalma
Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to service as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims handling, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He also serves as an arbitrator or mediator for insurance related disputes. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims handling lawyer and more than 52 years in the insurance business. He is available at http://www.zalma.com and email@example.com.
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