Welcome to FindLaw's Construction Defects section, including articles about household toxic mold. Once you buy your home, you have to protect your investment and that means learning about the basics of home maintenance. You will need to be able to spot dangerous defects or toxic mold early in order to make the necessary fixes and prevent injuries. You will also need to know about construction law, real estate covenants, and other legal topics so that you do not have to pay for the repairs if another party is responsible. These articles cover common defects that occur in home construction, tips on legal liability for home defects, and health information on toxic mold.
Construction Defects: The Basics
Since your home is most often the most expensive purchase you'll make in your lifetime, it makes sense to protect it as a long-term investment. But before you buy, particularly if it was newly built, you will want to do a thorough inspection to make sure there aren't any serious defects. Construction defects often cost thousands of dollars to fix and often depreciate one's home value or even force the owners to leave.
In most states, homeowners have a limited time in which to file a claim for construction defects. Once the statute of limitations has expired, homeowners may be stuck with the defect. But some states may allow suits as long as they are filed within the time limit after the date of discovery. For example, you may not know the builder used a defective building material until you renovate your home and discover the defect.
Examples of Construction Defects
There is no limit to the kinds of defects that may be present in a home, from minor problems that can easily be fixed to major situations that render a home uninhabitable. Defects can originate in the design, planning, inspection, or the construction phase.
Common defects include:
- Poorly designed roofs, leading to leaks or inadequate structural support
- Cracks in the concrete foundation
- Use of defective building materials
- Failure to properly insulate
- Expansive soil, resulting in settling and cracked foundations
- Water intrusion and trapped moisture (often leading to mold growth)
- Poorly installed electrical wires
Poor craftsmanship and inadequate ventilation can result in the build up of excess moisture, creating the perfect environment for various types of mold. Some mold -- including what is commonly called "black mold" -- is toxic and can render a home inhabitable. Since the actions (or ommissions) of homeowners also can result in mold growth, a homeowner must be able to prove that toxic mold was caused by poor design, defective materials, or substandard workmanship.
Liability for construction defects is determined by a number of different factors specific to each case. For example, a defect resulting from poor workmanship may constitute negligence on the part of the construction firm. Claims also may arise from a breach of contract; breach of warranty; strict liability (implied warranty of habitability); and fraud. In any event, it's often a good idea to contact an attorney to help you determine which party (or parties) is at fault.