Builders Responsible for Defective Home Construction and Residential Product Liability
Contractors, Builders, and Engineers, Liable for Defective Home Construction in Broad Array of Product Liability Claims
Builders of new homes may be responsible for a variety of defects, often as a result of poor design, use of inferior materials, or incorrect installation. The tough reality is that just because a home is new does not mean it is free of defects. The construction industry is imperfect, and many contractors have been known to make mistakes that are uncovered years after the building is complete.
Problems may surface during construction or can lay unattended and it could be a long time before visible signs of defects appear. Many defects are caused by major underlying problems like an improper foundation that comprises not only components of a home, but the entire investment.
If your home is built with substantial defects that the developer refuses to fix, you could face major costs for both the repairs and an expensive lawsuit against the developer.
Joe Lyon is a highly rated Ohio attorney with experience engaging insurance companies and filing real-estate claims. Mr. Lyon has represented plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of civil litigation claims, including claims of defective home construction.
Warranties and Insurance may not Cover Building Defects
Warranties for newly built homes generally offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials relating to various components. Many defects also fall outside of a warranties timeframe.
As a general rule, faulty construction is excluded from homeowners’ policies. It may happen that the company that gave the warranty has less money available than what repairs would cost.
Most warranties for new homes will not cover expenses an owner may incur as a consequence of a major construction defect, such as the cost of moving out of one’s home while repairs are being made. They also rarely cover components covered under a manufacturer’s warranty.
Common Defective Home Construction
- Improperly Installed Roofing—correctly installed roofing materials avoid moisture penetration into the home or siding materials. Roofs built by a third party are usually guaranteed for 5-10 years. Roofs built on a new home are rarely guaranteed for more than one year.
- Poor Gutter and Downspout Placement—upper roof downspouts should not drain onto lower roofs. Water damage for this reason may void a roofing warranty.
- Electrical Defects—houses now require larger electrical capabilities than they did in the past.
- Exterior Bricks, Stucco, and Siding Issues—few warranties offer any protection for these items. Some creative and unique designs create the likelihood of having window and exterior facade problems.
- Doors (inside and outside)—doors are often not covered in specific warranties. They may not be balanced, and may not open or close if the foundation shifts.
- Structural—floors may slant or sag. Rafters may be too far apart and a wall may buckle.
Other Possible Builder-Liable Defects
- Wood Floors—natural wood expands and contracts over time. Wood flooring must be acclimated to the building site before it is installed. If it is installed when damp, gaps can develop.
- No Insulation Installed in Attic—a well-insulated attic will make your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, saving you money and keeping you comfortable.
- No Attic Ventilation—leading to moisture build-up and mold formation.
- Windows Improperly Installed—resulting in leakage problems, water damage and reduced energy efficiency
- Water Heaters Improperly Installed—can pose serious safety concerns.
- Plumbing Issues—toilets overflow, run constantly, or leak due to incorrect installation. Sewage odors may be emitted from shower, toilet, or sink.
Reasons for Defective Home Building
Many building problems occur with new construction because of carelessness and cost-cutting. Low-cost subcontractors may not be professional, and may hide a defect or mistake.
It’s also possible that building inspectors do not have time to inspect properly. Some inspectors may be scheduled to see dozens of new homes in a single day. Local governmental code inspections do not guarantee there will be no defects.
Common Breaches of Contract by Builders
- Builder does not follow up on walkthrough items. A builder may dispute the defects noted on the list and will refuse to make repairs
- Builder does not build home to agreed specifications
- Builder will not refund down payment prior to closing
- Builder does not honor warranty
- Builder does not live up to advertisements
- Builder abandons a subdivision without finishing promised amenities, such as community swimming pools, golf courses, etc.
- Non-disclosure of known defects
- Inspections not performed
- Homes built upon land not suitable for occupation—homes built upon known toxic land or upon land with high water content
- Non-Disclosure of future use of surrounding land—homeowners may not have been told when adjacent property is used for other purposes instead of being open land
- Workers begin repairs but never finish
- Workers break other components in the home while fixing an original defect
- Home not built to windstorm codes
- Home not built on correct property lines
- Builder refuses to respond to complaints
- Home building not completed—a home is not completed due to defects and the builder stops building
Houses Built on Improper Foundations
Foundation problems are some of the most common and most expensive to resolve. Most home warranties cover only “Major Structural Damage,” which requires the home to be unsafe or unlivable, before coverage is initiated.
Sometimes after reviewing a foundation failure, the warranty or builder may claim the foundation must be “maintained” by the homeowner.
- Inadequate Draining—if water does not drain away from foundation a builder will install drains to solve a foundation problem, however it they should have taken preventative measures.
- Non-engineered Foundations—foundation designs without engineering approval may cause a multitude of problems.
- Defective Concrete Foundation—cracks in sidewalk, garage and driveway are likely to continue to grow.
Compensation for Victims of Defective Home Building
Building a new home is a tremendous financial commitment, and every homeowner deserves a competent and honest builder and developer. Discovering defective work and disputing defects can be very stressful, particularly when filing claims on contracts and warranties. For this reason, it is wise to contact an experienced attorney to assist homeowners in identifying and assessing the problems, developing a plan to remedy the home defects, and to protect your home investment.
If your home has recently been found defective, and have questions about the legal remedies available to receive fair compensation for repair costs, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.
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I met Joe during what was easily one of the worst times of my life. My husband had been in a serious accident and was a quadriplegic following that accident and remained in one medical facility after another until his death nearly four years later. We had contacted an area attorney who told us we absolutely did not have a case. Then we called a Cleveland firm that took the case and brought in Joe. Joe did so much of the work and became just like family to us. I would highly recommend Joe to anyone and be willing to guarantee that he will do anything and everything possible to get satisfactory results. He is extremely dedicated to his clients and very hard working. Mike and I came to think of him like a son, I still do; if it wasn’t for him I don’t believe our case would have been settled the way it was and may have ended up in a courtroom where the results can go any way.Donna Urchak