Homebuyers whose dream home turned into a nightmare because of construction defects may have legal recourse against negligent builders. Buyers frequently put down significant amounts of money for new houses. In fact, generally, one’s home is their biggest financial investment. When these dream homes begin to fall apart, new homeowners may face significant financial challenges.
Builders May Be Liable for Construction Defects
Even when homes are brand new, they are not necessarily free from defects. Builders can cut corners to save money or make mistakes in construction. Negligent builders and contractors can be made to pay in litigation because homebuyers may be entitled to a home that is free from defects. State law (e.g. Nevada vs. California) vary in procedure and available damage recovery, which is why it is important to consult with a construction defect attorney.
Construction defect claims generally involve two basic issues: 1) work that was not done in accordance with a written contract, plans or specifications or 2) work that was done in violation of code and/or standards and is causing damage. These defects can be patent (obvious to the naked eye) or latent (hidden defect generally discovered by an expert).
If a construction defect lawsuit is successful, depending on local state law, the homeowner may be entitled to recover for: cost of repairs, diminution of value, loss of use, expert fees, litigation costs, and sometimes attorney’s fees.
New Homes with Serious Defects
In some cases, construction defects appear quickly after moving into a new home. In other instances, the defects could take years to start showing damage to put a homeowner on notice of a potential issue. For instance, defective soil conditions could result in damage within the first year or could take many years to appear depending on dry or wet winters. Evidence of defective soil conditions could include: cracking exterior stucco, cracking interior drywall especially at windows and doors, cracked tile floors, and difficulty opening and closing doors/windows. Anytime a homeowner sees excessive cracking at their home, an expert should be contacted because there is likely an underlying defect that is the cause of the cracking.
Even when purchasing a newly built home, it is a good idea to hire a third-party home inspector to check for defective conditions that a lay homeowner might not see or know is wrong. However, unfortunately, even with a good home inspector, some defective conditions may not appear until years after moving in. Once a homeowner sees or experiences defective conditions in their home, they should document the evidence with photos and videos as much as possible and put the builder or contractor on written notice immediately. If a homeowner is unable to get the builder or contractor to repair issues with their new home, it is important to contact a construction defect attorney because the time clock could be running out to pursue a claim. A homeowner needs to be careful not to let a builder or contractor drag things out because the homeowner could be at risk for a barred claim under applicable statutes of limitation or statutes of repose. Bottom line, when in doubt, a homeowner should contact an attorney to make sure they understand their legal rights.