Imagine you buy a newly constructed home, move your entire family in and then the first rain of the season hits the home hard. Suddenly, the windows and roof are leaking and you feel like you're living under a waterfall. This is not how a newly constructed home should behave in a heavy storm; the contractor that built your residence clearly did something wrong.
Most new home buyers can ask that the contractor fix the defective parts of their newly constructed home, and the contractor will comply. However, in cases where the contractor tries to argue that it's not liable for these mistakes, homeowners may need to pursue their claims in court.
Causes of action for construction defect claims
When pursuing a claim for construction-related defects, homeowners may cite one of several causes of action. Here are some of the most common issues that arise in such a case:
- Negligence: Construction contractors are bound to employ a reasonable amount of care to ensure that they build a home free of defects and other problems. This amount of care should be on par with the level of care that other building professionals would reasonably employ given the circumstances. Also, this care extends to the supervision of a subcontractor. General contractors are responsible for the negligence that their subcontractors commit.
- Breach of contract: Your home building contract will lay out specific things that the contractor must complete in exchange for your payment. The contract may also provide a plan for resolving disagreements, and a plan for what should happen should either party fail to fulfill his or her agreed-upon role.
- Breach of warranty: This refers to the builder's failure to construct a home that is livable and/or safe. When this happens, courts generally hold contractors to what is "implied" -- in other words, the court will hold contractors to the fact that the home should be constructed and designed reasonably with quality workmanship and that it must be livable and free of defects.
- Fraud and negligent misrepresentation: This claim relates to intentional misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation or outright fraud related to a contractor's designs, plans and/or specifications.
- Strict liability claims: When a plaintiff makes a strict liability claim relating to home construction, he or she does not have to prove that the contractor was specifically negligent regarding the home construction. What he or she must prove is that a defect and resulting damages exist and the contractor was responsible for them.
Is your newly constructed home defective?
Regardless of the specific nature of your construction defect claim, you might not be financially responsible to pay for it. In many circumstances, financial responsibility will fall upon the shoulders of the negligent contractor or subcontractors involved in the construction of your residence.