Constructional Deficiency Reviews

What is a Construction Defect?

This is a simple question with a complicated answer. Construction defects are one of the most common causes of disputes and litigation in the construction industry. There is often disagreement when it comes to identifying what a construction defect is because of the differing viewpoints and interests of those asking the question and/or making the determination.

Statutory definitions for the term “construction defect” vary from state to state. Generally speaking, the term “construction defect” is broader than just defective workmanship. A construction defect is generally defined as a defect in the design, the workmanship, and/or in the materials or systems used on a project that results in a failure of a component part of a building or structure and causes damage to person or property, usually resulting in financial harm to the owner. The question becomes how do you identify a construction defect, how do contractors protect themselves from this liability, and what do you do when you discover a construction defect?

Building Construction

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What are the different kinds and where are those typical construction defects normally found in building structures? Well, in most of the cases there aren’t any single leading issue, but on a whole, there are three key elements which share the blame equally:

  • Deviations from Architectural Plans
  • Deviations from Approved Materials
  • Deviations from Standard Field Quality
  • Since there is no one source of failure, these elements raise the bar in finding the actual root cause for a construction defect.

This is one very simple question with a really complicated answer. A construction defect is one of the most common yet major causes of litigation and dispute in the construction industry. Most of the times, there is a huge disagreement when it comes to recognizing the actual reason for a construction defect.

Simply put, the term “construction defect” is defective workmanship. It can be generally defined as a fault in the design, the workmanship, the materials/systems used in a project which ultimately result in the failure of a component part of a building or structure and causes damages to the property/person.

Before Substantial Performance or any occupancy takes place, an initial review is conducted and a list of deficiencies is prepared by the cont. Fo

When requested and deemed appropriate for the status of the completion of the Work our consultant(s) will conduct a joint review, which may include the entire design team, to agree on the nature of the deficient Work listed in the contractors punch list and the values to be retained for completion.

Our consultant should expect to receive a punch list from the contractor before conducting their review. The punch list should include a complete list of all the items identified in the contract that the contractor and their sub-trades feel are still incomplete or deficient in any way. Each room or area should be effectively identified such that the consultant can reference the punch list during their review of the work. The deficiency list is then made up of the items identified in the punch list plus any other items found by the consultant deemed to be incomplete or deficient.

Where possible, it is acceptable for the consultant to ask the contractor for the electronic file of their punch list in order to edit it with the additional consultant’s comments to help expedite the process.

The consultant should be familiar with the quality standards and performance requirements shown on the drawings, in the specifications and in the standards and other documents referenced in the specifications. It is also the consultant’s responsibility to be aware of the maximum and minimum allowable levels of workmanship for the various trades’ work as defined by their trade associations. .

When advised by the contractor that the deficient Work has been completed, a final review and check off is conducted. Further reviews are dependant on the contractor.

As the consultant, we should also advise the Owner as to what they can anticipate during the deficiency review process. Just as our documents should not be expected to be perfect, there should not be an expectation on the part of the Owner or the Consultant that the construction or finishing of the project will be perfect. Depending on the size of the project, there may even be a situation where certain concessions will have to be made. Since this comes at the end of the project where when the schedule and budget will most likely be close to spent, if not completely spent, deficiencies can sometimes used as a means toward negotiation of remaining changes to be paid for, move in and other related schedule requirements, etc.

Once timelines and remaining items to completed are agreed upon by all three parties and the work can be deemed substantially performed, or ready for it’s intended use, then the architect is able to issue their Certificate of Substantial Performance.

Related Services

Project Management

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Building Maintenance Plans

Contact us to develop your Long Term Maintenance Plans (LTMP) for any size building.

Expert Witness

We are specialists in this field and are regularly engaged to act as an expert within the High Court, Tribunals and Arbitration providing impartial advice.

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