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Common Construction Defects

Miguel A. Brizuela , P.A. Feb. 2, 2023

Construction defects are an unfortunate and costly reality of the building industry. These defects can range from aesthetic issues to structural and safety concerns. Whether you own a home or business, it is important to understand what qualifies as a construction defect and who can be held liable for any construction defects that may arise.  

If you believe you have noticed a construction defect, contact our construction law attorneys at Miguel A. Brizuela, P.A., to discuss your case. We can help you determine if you have a valid claim for a construction defect and will work diligently to represent your best interests in settlement negotiations or litigation. With an office in Coral Gables, Florida, we represent home and business owners in Miami, Florida, and throughout Southern Florida.  

What Qualifies as a Construction Defect?  

If you have noticed what appears to be a construction defect on your property, it is important to understand what qualifies as a construction defect under Florida Statute 558. 

A “construction defect” is any deficiency in the building or its elements that arose from the construction of a property (residential or commercial) due to the installation of faulty or defective materials, building code violations, deviations from the accepted industry standards, or flawed property design.  

A survey by the Community Association Institute revealed that more than 57% of new condominium projects had construction defects. By contrast, a construction deficiency was reported in 17.7% of townhome communities and only 9.5% of single-family homes.  

Common Construction Defects  

Florida statute 558 defines “construction defects” broadly and includes both structural and aesthetic defects. Common types of construction defects include: 

  • Improperly installed doors and windows. Issues such as sticking doors and windows, cloudy glass, and water leakage are all indicators that your doors and windows were not installed correctly.  

  • Poor drainage. Inadequate drainage can cause flooding, mold growth, landscape destruction, etc. It’s important to ensure that your drainage systems are designed and implemented properly before any landscaping is done.  

  • Structural damage. Cracks in walls, ceilings, floors, and foundations can be signs of structural damage caused by improper construction techniques or materials used during the building process.  

  • Electrical problems. Flickering lights, blown fuses, frequent power outages—all of these are signs that your electrical system may have been improperly installed or wired incorrectly.   

  • Plumbing malfunctions. Low water pressure and slow draining sinks/tubs/showers/toilets could mean that there was an issue with the plumbing during installation or that repair work wasn’t completed correctly afterward.  

  • Roofing defects. Missing shingles or tiles on the roof can indicate a poor installation job, while cracked sealant around vents could mean that water has seeped in due to improper sealing techniques being used when installing them initially.  

  • Heating/air conditioning malfunctions. Uneven heating and cooling throughout rooms in your home or building might mean that the HVAC system wasn’t installed properly and needs to be re-evaluated by professionals to determine what repairs need to be done in order to make it function correctly again.  

  • Fire safety issues. If you notice smoke detectors going off for no apparent reason or faulty wiring around outlets near combustible materials (elevated levels of carbon monoxide), then it’s time for an inspection from qualified technicians who specialize in fire safety inspections so they can determine if there is any risk associated with these flaws in construction standards on your property.  

  • Exterior wall damage. Cracking paint on exterior walls can indicate that there was a problem during installation, either from using inferior materials or from failing to adhere to proper building codes when constructing them initially.  

  • Moisture infiltration. Gaps around windowsills/doorsills, as well as cracks along ceiling lines, could all point towards moisture infiltration, which could lead to mold growth if left unchecked for too long.  

In addition to physical defects, claims can also be made for aesthetic problems such as improper finishes or incorrect painting techniques. Reach out to an attorney as soon as possible for help navigating the process.  

Who Can Be Held Liable for Construction Defects?  

Let’s take a look at all the possible parties involved.  

  • Developers. Developers are responsible for managing the entire construction project, including budgeting, planning, scheduling, hiring contractors, and ensuring that all work meets local building codes. They are also in charge of following up on any warranty claims regarding construction defects. Developers should have liability insurance that covers any potential problems that arise during or after the completion of their project.  

  • General contractors. General contractors oversee subcontractors and construction workers on-site and make sure they adhere to project requirements and local building codes. If a defect is found in the finished product, general contractors will be held responsible for fixing it as quickly as possible. This involves diagnosing the issue, organizing repairs, handling paperwork related to warranties or insurance claims, and ensuring safety standards are met during any repairs or replacements.  

  • Subcontractors. Subcontractors are usually hired by general contractors to carry out specific tasks within a larger project, such as plumbing or electrical work. While subcontractors may not always be held liable in cases of construction defects, they must still adhere to local building codes when completing their tasks. Otherwise, they can face legal action if something goes wrong with their workmanship. In some cases, subcontractors will have their own liability insurance policies that cover potential issues arising from their workmanship so that they do not have to pay out of pocket if there is a problem with their services down the line.  

  • Architects and designers. Architects and designers create blueprints for buildings that must meet certain safety standards according to local building codes. If these standards are not met due to poor design choices made by architects or designers, then they may be liable in cases of construction defects. They should also have professional liability insurance in case something goes wrong with their designs down the line.  

  • Suppliers. Finally, suppliers provide materials used in construction projects, such as nails, lumber, and windows, all of which should meet certain quality standards set by developers or general contractors before being used on-site during construction projects. If these materials do not meet these standards, then suppliers may be held liable in cases of construction defects due to faulty materials being used during the initial build process.   

If you notice what might be a construction defect on your property, you need to be aware of Florida’s time limits to file a lawsuit for damages and repairs. Generally, the statute of limitations for construction defect cases is four years. However, Florida law also imposes a 10-year statute of repose for claims related to the planning, design, or construction of the real property. Consult with a construction law attorney to understand which time limit applies to your specific case.  

Get Legal Counsel You Can Trust 

At Miguel A. Brizuela, P.A., we pride ourselves on achieving favorable outcomes for our clients who deal with construction defects and other construction-related issues. If you notice what appears to be a construction defect on your property, contact our knowledgeable construction law attorneys for legal counsel. We can help you pursue a claim against liable parties to get the compensation you deserve. Discuss your case during a free consultation.