While a home or structure can have a wide variety of construction defects, usually significant defects arise from three areas – foundation movement, water penetration and safety issues.
Foundation defects can arise for a multitude of reasons, including:
• Poor design
• Poor site preparation
• Bad concrete
• Improper placement of steel or improper tensioning of post-tensioning cables
Water penetration can be a significant, long term and insidious issue. Sometimes, the cause or source of water penetration can be difficult to diagnose, since water can enter at one point in a home or structure and appear somewhere else in the interior. Further, water can be penetrating into a home or structure for a long period of time, but not become apparent to the homeowner or occupant until many years later. Examples of construction defects that can lead to water penetration include:
• Improper installation of weep screed or weep plane
• Improper installation of windows
• Improper installation of roof
• Improper installation of outdoor balconies
• Flashing issues
As discussed, water concerns can be especially troublesome. I have handled cases where the homeowner or occupant did not know that water had been penetrating into the wall cavities, rotting the insulation, studs, etc. for a long period of time, since only many years later did water actually begin to appear in the interior of the home. Once the sheetrock was removed, the long term rot and decay was discovered, to the surprise of the owner! Water penetration also can bring with it a host of other issues, including mold, rot and termites.
Further, safety issues can arise from a wide variety of construction defects, including electrical concerns, safety glass issues, etc.
So what to do? It is important that if you believe you have a significant construction defect that you hire a professional to investigate these defects on your behalf as soon as possible.