Imagine that you’ve completed a construction project. All the planning, hard work, and late hours have resulted in successful project completion. Fast forward a few years. You’re now being informed that you’re responsible for a defect on that project even though you were only tangentially involved in it. This scenario is a reality for many designers, general contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers in this industry. While not all defects are preventable, they can be defended against, especially when responsibility for a groundless defect has been shifted to you.
In this two-part editorial, we will discuss how you can avoid being blamed for a construction defect. This article is not about shirking your legal responsibilities; it’s about employing your legal rights to prepare and defend yourself against unmerited construction defect claims. For a legal partner that will protect your rights and fight defect claims on your behalf, consult with a Ft. Myers construction lawyer from Cotney Construction Law.
Determining who is responsible for a construction defect can be incredibly complex. This is due to not only the sheer number of parties that come and go on a construction site, but also the length of time that can lapse before a defect is found. Depending on the type of construction defect, a subcontractor, contractor, architect, or engineer may be found responsible. For example, a design flaw that leads to a structure’s partial collapse is the responsibility of the architect. Similarly, a subcontractor that performs faulty work on a door installation is responsible for their work. Determining liability seems like it would be as straightforward as finding out who performed the work. However, it’s just not that simple.
How Poorly Drafted Contracts Lead to Conflict
Poorly drafted contracts with vague language can lead to a dispute in which it’s unclear where the fault lies for a construction defect. In these kinds of situations, no party is willing to accept responsibility. Furthermore, contract provisions can be written to shift the blame from one party to another. In many cases, liability is determined not by who produced the defective product but by what the contract stipulates. Failure to review your contracts may result in your company being held liable for a groundless defect.
As we continue in part two, we will discuss how contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers can protect themselves from construction defect claims that have been shifted along the construction hierarchy. Defect claims can be effectively fought as they arise; however, it’s best to have a plan in place long before a defect is discovered. Consult with one of our Ft. Myers construction attorneys from Cotney Construction Law to ensure that you are prepared for any current and future construction defects.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.