What Are Construction Defects?

Construction defects are failures in a building or structure that result from poor design, faulty installation, or use of substandard materials. These defects can lead to significant damage, including structural instability, water intrusion, and even mold growth. In Arizona, construction defects are a serious concern for property owners and can lead to costly repairs and legal disputes. For instance, imagine you’ve hired a subcontractor to install a new roof on your home. A few months later, you notice water stains on your ceiling. Upon inspection, it’s discovered that the roof was improperly installed, leading to leaks and water damage. This is a classic example of a construction defect.

How Can I Identify a Construction Defect?

Identifying a construction defect can be challenging, especially if the defect isn’t immediately visible. It often requires the expertise of a construction professional or an engineer. Common signs of construction defects include cracks in the foundation, water leaks, uneven flooring, and doors or windows that don’t close properly. In Arizona, the law provides a broad definition of construction defects. According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 12-1361, a construction defect is a material deficiency in the design, construction, manufacture, repair, alteration, remodeling, or landscaping of a dwelling that results from a violation of construction code, use of defective materials, or failure to adhere to workmanship standards in the community.

What Are My Rights as a Homeowner?

As a homeowner in Arizona, you have the right to expect that your home is built to a certain standard. If a subcontractor fails to meet these standards, you have the right to seek repairs, damages, or even a replacement of the defective work. In addition, under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, you have the right to truthful and honest representations from the subcontractor about their skills, the quality of their work, and the materials used. If the subcontractor has misrepresented any of these aspects, you may have a claim for consumer fraud.

What Should I Do if I Discover a Construction Defect?

If you discover a construction defect, act quickly. Document the defect, take photographs, and keep a record of any communication with the subcontractor. You should also notify the subcontractor of the defect in writing, giving them an opportunity to correct the issue. In general, Arizona law provides a process for resolving construction defect disputes before litigation. Allowing a contractor a “right to repair”, requires homeowners to notify the contractor of the defect and give them an opportunity to inspect and repair the defect before filing a lawsuit.

What if the Subcontractor Refuses to Fix the Defect?

If the subcontractor refuses to fix the defect or disputes your claim, you may need to take legal action. In Arizona, you can file a lawsuit for breach of contract, breach of warranty, or negligence.

You may also be able to file a claim under the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act if the subcontractor misrepresented their skills or the quality of their work. In a lawsuit, you’ll need to prove that the subcontractor was responsible for the defect, that the defect has caused damage to your property, and that you’ve suffered financial loss as a result. This often requires expert testimony from construction professionals or engineers. Remember, the statute of limitations for construction defect claims in Arizona is generally two years from the date the defect was discovered. However, there are exceptions, so it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

What Are the Potential Damages I Can Recover?

If you’ve suffered a construction defect, you may be entitled to various types of damages. These can include the cost of repairs, the loss in value of your property, and any other out-of-pocket expenses you’ve incurred because of the defect. In some cases, you may also be entitled to consequential damages. These are damages that result indirectly from the defect, such as the cost of temporary housing if you had to move out of your home for repairs. In rare cases, if the subcontractor’s conduct was particularly egregious, you may be awarded punitive damages. These are intended to punish the subcontractor and deter similar conduct in the future.

What If My Home Is Still Under Warranty?

If your home is still under warranty, you may have additional rights. Most home warranties cover construction defects for a certain period of time. If a defect arises during this period, the subcontractor or builder is typically required to repair or replace the defective work. However, warranties often have specific procedures and deadlines for making a claim, so it’s important to read your warranty carefully and consult with an attorney if necessary.

Can I Sue the General Contractor?

In some cases, you may be able to sue the general contractor as well as the subcontractor. This can be the case if the general contractor was negligent in supervising the subcontractor, or if the general contractor was directly involved in the defective work. Suing the general contractor or subcontractor can be complex, and may involve insurance claims and involve issues including indemnification, vicarious liability or privity of contract considerations. An experienced attorney can help you understand your options and determine the best course of action.

How Can an Experienced Lawyer Help?

An experienced lawyer can guide you through the complex process of resolving a construction defect dispute. They can help you understand your rights, gather evidence, negotiate with the general contractor or subcontractor, and represent you in court if necessary. A lawyer can also help you navigate the “right to repair” process, ensuring that you comply with all legal requirements and deadlines. If the contractor refuses to fix the defect or disputes your claim, a lawyer can help you build a strong case and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Dealing with construction defects can be stressful and complicated. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can protect your rights. If you’re dealing with a construction defect dispute in Arizona, call Resolvere Law today at 480-568-1327 for a free case evaluation!