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The potential trouble with latent defects

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2023 | Construction Litigation |

There are generally two broad categories when it comes to construction defects. First, you have patent defects, which are going to be things that are relatively obvious and that a homeowner would notice right away after a project is completed. Next, you have latent defects, which are hidden issues that only become obvious at an unspecified point in the future.

For example, if the homeowner tries to turn on the lights and the electrical systems don’t work, they know from the very first day that they take occupancy that there is an issue with that system. That is a patent defect. But if the shingles were installed incorrectly so that a roof that is rated for 30 years starts to leak after five years, the homeowner may think everything is fine until they start to get water damage inside the house. They don’t even know that the defect exists at first – and they won’t for five years.

Why this gets complicated

One of the issues with latent defects, however, is that they can be a bit complicated to prove. Is it really a defect or is it just normal wear and tear on the house?

In the example above, is the roof leaking because the shingles were installed incorrectly? Or did the roofing company do everything properly and the roof is just leaking because there was a storm in the area that damaged the shingles? After all, wear and tear is common with homes, especially from the weather. At what point is damage to a home just expected wear and tear, rather than an actual defect?

Construction companies, roofing companies, general contractors and many others may find themselves in complicated disputes over who is responsible for damage to a property. At a time like this, they need to know exactly what legal options they have.


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