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Categories of construction defects explained

Most construction jobs end with a finished, well-built home or place of business. Occasionally, however, something goes wrong after construction is complete, and the owner accuses the contractor of allowing a defect to occur. If the construction company and the owner cannot settle the matter out of court, it may be necessary for the company to defend itself in court.

To simplify matters, courts generally organize alleged construction defects into four categories: design deficiencies, material deficiencies, construction deficiencies and subsurface deficiencies. As these categories imply, a property owner can claim a defect exists virtually anywhere in a structure, and was caused by negligence at any point in its construction or remodeling, from the design phase to the end of construction.

A design deficiency would be the fault of the architects or engineers whose design does not work as promised. A common design defect is a problem with the roof that causes leaks, drainage problems or inadequate structural support.

A material deficiency has to do with what materials went into the project. Inferior materials can cause problems even when they were properly installed. A construction deficiency, on the other hand, is not due to negligent design or substandard materials, but poor workmanship.

Finally, subsurface deficiencies have to do with the soil the building rests on. If the foundation is not solid, and the soil not properly compacted and prepared for drainage, the property could settle improperly, shift, flood or even suffer a landslide.

Any of these could need expensive fixes, but just because a building has problems, it does not mean the contractor was responsible. A construction company accused of causing a defect needs an attorney on its side to protect its rights and interests.

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