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 Cincinnati, 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 & 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

  1. 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.
  2. Poor Gutter and Downspout Placement—upper roof downspouts should not drain onto lower roofs. Water damage for this reason may void a roofing warranty.
  3. Electrical Defects—houses now require larger electrical capabilities than they did in the past.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Structural—floors may slant or sag. Rafters may be too far apart and a wall may buckle.

    Other Possible Builder-Liable Defects

  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. No Attic Ventilation—leading to moisture build-up and mold formation.
  10. Windows Improperly Installed—resulting in leakage problems, water damage and reduced energy efficiency
  11. Water Heaters Improperly Installed—can pose serious safety concerns.
  12. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Non-engineered Foundations—foundation designs without engineering approval may cause a multitude of problems.
  3. Defective Concrete Foundation—cracks in sidewalk, garage and driveway are likely to continue to grow.

 Toxic Mold Results from Construction Defects

Mold is not a construction defect, but may be the result of one or more defects on a specific property. One common situation of a water damaged home is a slow plumbing leak inside home walls or under the poorly laid foundation of a home.

Constant release of moisture will provides a medium for potentially dangerous mold. If a construction defect is identified, a builder or contractor may be liable for the cost of mold remediation and subsequent repairs.

To be valid and to properly recover damage costs from the responsible parties, claims must be filed shortly after the issue is discovered. Insurance may not cover all or any of the expenses, and builders or contractors should be held accountable.

If mold exists in a home and an individual develops an illness due to the presence of mold, a home defect and personal injury claim may exist. Personal injury claims are not always easily proven, though a construction defect is fairly obvious to investigating attorneys and construction consultants.

Toxic Mold in Home a Serious Health Hazard

Toxic mold in American homes is more prevalent than previously thought. Toxic molds can cause household air quality problems leading to allergies and respiratory illness. The Mayo Clinic has concluded that in more than 95 percent of American patients suffering from chronic sinus disease, a reaction to mold is the primary culprit.

Some typical symptoms of toxic mold poisoning can include:

•    Chronic fatigue
•    Memory loss
•    Headaches
•    Chronic cold symptoms
•    Frequent bloody nose
•    Persistent coughing
•    Chest pain
•    Hives
•    Skin redness/rashes

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 a defective home, and to protect your home investment.

Justice Courthouse

If your home has recently been found defective, and have questions about the legal remedies available to receive fair compensation for repair costs in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm at (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer critical questions regarding a defective home.