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The Difference Between Patent and Latent Construction Defects

While patent defects are obvious and are typically discovered during an inspection of the property, latent defects are hidden. The difference between a patent and latent construction defect is important for a homeowner to understand when recovering damages for construction defects. When a homeowner has a home that contains a latent defect, years may go by before it is discovered. Latent defects can cause substantial damage to a home since they can exist for a long time without being noticed and repaired. 

Patent Defects in Nevada

Patent defects are construction defects that are open and obvious, meaning that they should be reasonably discovered during a routine inspection. These types of defects can be seen with the naked eye. For example, severe stucco cracking or flaking may be reasonably observed by a homeowner just by walking around the house.  A patent defect is one where a lay person, without construction experience, can observe and reasonably understand that there is likely a problem or defect. 

Latent Defects in Nevada

Latent defects are those that are hidden and not easily discovered. They cannot be seen with the naked eye and may not be uncovered through a regular inspection. These types of defects can continue causing damage for years before they are found or may exist without causing damage for years after completion of construction.  For instance, defectively installed plumbing may not be discovered until years after installation when a leak finally occurs and causes damage.  Or, defective soil conditions may exist and not show evidence of damage to the home for years after completion, depending on seasonal precipitation and exposure of water to the soil.  These types of defects are likely only discoverable once damage occurs or an expert can identify them.  

Patent vs. Latent Defects in Court

Patent and latent construction defects are handled differently by courts. In Nevada, homebuyers are expected to conduct inspections to discover obvious defects before they decide to purchase a home. If they fail to conduct an inspection and to discover obvious (patent) defects, they may not be able to recover damages for said patent defects depending on the circumstances of the home sale.  Latent defects, or those concealed by a seller, may be recoverable.  For new home construciton defect actions, both patent and latent defect damages may be recoverable depending on the facts and evidence presented.

Sellers of residential real estate must complete disclosure forms to inform potential buyers regarding defects in their properties. If they fail to disclose defects that they know about or reasonably should know about, they may be liable to pay trebled damages to an innocent buyer. 

When homeowners discover latent defects that have caused damage, they will normally be able to recover damages against the responsible parties.  The parties that caused the defects and damage may have to repair the defects and/or compensate the homebuyer for the resulting losses. 

The difference between a patent and latent defect might not always be clear to homeowners who have no expertise in the construction industry.  It might also not be clear which parties are liable – a prior seller and/or a builder/contractor.  A construction defect attorney can help a homeowner determine whether a valid construction defect claim exists and who the responsible party might be. 

What Our Clients Say

My family and I are thankful to Maddox, Segerblom and Canepa for their assistance during a three year case regarding construction defects to our home. We are truly appreciative of their knowledge, determination and assistance during this process. They were always courteous, and available to answer any and all of our concerns and questions. Thank you for the wonderful resolution. Many thanks to you and your staff.

Frances Castelli

We used Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa to represent us in a legal suit re problems in construction on new properties that we purchased from a developer.

We were very pleased with the representation provided by this law firm. They were fully communicative, responsive to our questions and were very knowledgeable about the issues that required resolution. Even after we reached a resolution, they have been responsive in making sure to point us in the right direction for help with repairs that are required.

We would recommend them to others with similar issues that require legal help.

Atam & Margo Lalchandani

Maddox, Segerblom & Canepa did a FANTASTIC job in our construction defects case. I interacted with several people from their office throughout our 2 year litigation. Their staff is friendly, knowledgeable and always prompt about getting back to you when you have questions/comments/concerns. I especially enjoyed working with Darcy, Ardea, Eva, and Sandra. Being part of a lawsuit is no fun for anyone, but if you have to be a part of one, I can’t say enough positive things about this firm!

Victoria Fox

The law firm of Maddox, Segerblom, and Canepa were amazing to work with. They were thorough and always available for any questions we had. We worked a lot with Sandy who was always professional, friendly, always on time for appointments and just a great person to represent this firm. We have never been involved in a law suit before and they made it comfortable for us. We appreciate the hard work the lawyers and people who work for the firm did and would recommend them.

Becky Loudenburg
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