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What Are Construction Defects

Construction defects vary greatly in nature, scope, and consequence.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, the most serious construction defects often involve inadequate waterproofing of the “building envelope”: a roof that leaks, windows and doors installed without critical head flashings, poor installation of the weather-resistive barrier that should be applied before the siding is installed, or concrete patios poured against the siding so that water that has made its way behind the siding cannot drain.

With the wind-driven rain that is so common in our region, defects in the building envelope will often cause water intrusion and damage such as rot and decay within the exterior walls of the home. It can take years before a faultless home buyer sees any evidence of damage.  By the time water has made its way to an interior finish so that there is observable damage — such as puddling or swelling on a window sill, or staining on a ceiling or wall — the damage within the walls may have been going on for years.

If your roof is leaking, water can make its way into your attic space, causing mold and other damage to the wood sheathing and structural framing. Similarly, inadequate ventilation in your roof cavity (attic space) can cause extensive damage from the buildup of excessive moisture.  (Mold needs moisture, heat, and an organic substance such as wood to thrive.)  Again, this water intrusion and growing property damage might go on for years before it discovered.

Other common construction defects include:

  • cracking and settling driveways and sidewalks due to inadequate soil compaction,
  • improperly installed hardwood floors (leading to cupping, bowing, excessive gaps, and/or checking),
  • improper drainage (leading to flooded ground-level living spaces or crawl spaces), and more.

Statutes of limitations, and other laws that limit the time in which you can bring a claim, mean that if you suspect you have construction defects in your home, condominium, or commercial building, it is always in your interest to hire capable counsel, get an expert on board, and investigate and document your claims to protect your rights and maximize your chances of obtaining the legal remedy you deserve.

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