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Shoddy Workmanship Puts Buildings on Shaky Ground

Shoddy Workmanship Puts Buildings on Shaky Ground

Construction defects can include everything from cosmetic damage to serious structural defects that place property and lives in danger. In Illinois, individuals and their business law attorney can seek compensation for these defects.

Common causes of construction defects include improper soil preparation and analysis of soil conditions, inadequate site selection and planning, as well as insufficient civil and structural engineering. Other causes can include the use of defective or deficient building materials, as well as shoddy and negligent construction techniques.

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Construction Defects Infographic

Common Construction Defects

Facade Leaks – New building techniques and the use of substandard building materials are common causes of facade leaks. The more complex the structure’s design, the greater the likelihood that the facade will crumble. While primarily a cosmetic concern, facade leaks can allow moisture penetration which can threaten the stability of the underlying structure.

Window Failure – Window frames can shift and allow for moisture and air penetration. As windows become more sophisticated, it is increasingly important to follow strict protocols for their installation. When these protocols are ignored, gaskets, seals, and the frames can become permanently damaged.

Wood Floors – Wood can expand and contract as the floor settles into place. As the wood acclimates to the environment, it can absorb moisture which can cause it to buckle and pop. If the wood is in a low-humidity environment, the wood can shrink which can cause cracks in the surface.

Ventilation Problems – Improper calculations can lead to the installation of inadequate heating and air conditioning equipment. This can have a significant impact on the property owners comfort and quality of life. In addition to inadequate heating and cooling systems, improper placement and connection of ductwork, fans, etc. can facilitate the growth of toxic mold, and exacerbate health problems related to asthma, COPD, and other breathing conditions.

Improper/Inferior Substitutions – It is not uncommon for contractors to use lower quality materials, or to substitute inferior fixtures and fittings in order to reduce construction costs. In order to protect consumers, developers are required to notify property owners of these changes. Moreover, they are required to substitute materials that are of equal or superior quality to those specified within a contract.

Faulty Foundations – Improper soil preparation including compacting and grading can cause foundations to leak and crack. These types of defects can threaten the integrity of the structure and make the home/business uninhabitable. In some cases, faulty foundations may require complete demolition of the property.

Warranties – Warranties provide a sense of comfort and protection for property owners, however, some warranties aren’t worth the paper they are printed on. Many warranty companies fail to back up their warranties with sufficient capital reserves to cover the cost of repairs or replacements.

Construction Defect Claims

There are two types of construction defect claims. The statute of limitations for filing a construction defect claim in Illinois is four years. The statute of repose is 10 years which means that after these deadlines have passed, property owners cannot hold their builder, contractor, or inspectors liable for construction defects. However, it may still be possible to pursue a claim after these statutes of limitations have expired if it can be shown that the defendant made fraudulent misrepresentations.

Patent Defects – Patent defects can be detected via a visual inspection of the property Such defects might include misaligned joints, cracks in masonry, buckled flooring, mold, loose tiles, etc.

Latent Defects – These defects are not readily visible and often become apparent only after time has elapsed. These defects might include pipes that freeze due to improper insulation levels, faults in the wiring that lead to power shorts, or plumbing that leads because of improperly sealed connections,

“Eco Claims”

New building materials are constantly being introduced into the marketplace. In many cases, buildings using “eco” materials marketed as “green” are using materials that are not properly tested and vetted for durability or effectiveness. These materials can include flooring materials, wood substitutes, concrete mixtures, heating/ventilation systems, insulation, etc. In some cases, property owners can seek compensation when these materials fail to perform as marketed.

Pursuing a Construction Defect Claim

Documentation is crucial when pursuing a construction defect claim. Documentation should include photographs of the damage, any correspondence with the builder/responsible parties, and a thorough listing of any repairs that are required to correct the deficiency.

In Illinois, individuals and their business law attorney may seek compensation for damages to the real estate itself as well as damages to personal property that the construction defect is responsible for. It is also possible to seek damages for the cost of repairs, as well as any expenses that the defect is directly responsible for including any remediation steps that the property owner is required to take. These claims may also cover expenses stemming from any steps required in order for the property to satisfy local building codes.

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