Understand Your Options When Faced With Construction Defects
Construction defects present some of the most heated conflicts in new builds and remodels. If work is defective, an architect is usually obligated to point it out, at which point an owner may make a claim against the contractor for the cost of repair, correction or replacement, and many times an owner will withhold payment.
Sometimes, contractors have a defense that the defect was caused by an error in the drawings, plans or specifications and since the work was done in accordance with the drawings, plans or specifications, the cost of repair, correction or replacement is the owner’s responsibility. These disputes can lead to delays and additional costs, liens, work stoppage and violations, all while the owner is paying interest on its loan(s) and the contractor could be mobilizing to a different job site instead of waiting for a defect dispute to be resolved.
The Right Step Is Not Always Obvious
It’s critical for the owner to carefully make an informed decision about how to proceed when a construction defect arises. Should the contract be terminated? Should a subcontractor be replaced? Should an expert engineer be brought in to inspect the work and write a report? How will the defect or the contractor’s negligence affect the property value? Should the parties start to negotiate a resolution or should they pursue the issue in mediation, arbitration or litigation? Sometimes a defect may even cause a violation or stop work order to be issued by the building department, which can result in the bank pulling the plug on further financing.
Similarly, if a contractor wishes to pursue a claim against the owner because the claimed defect is merely a bogus excuse not to pay the contractor or the defect was caused by errors in the plans or specifications or unforeseen site conditions, it’s vital to have an advocate who knows:
- What expert reports are needed
- Litigation costs
- Recovery likelihood prior to claim/contractor walk off/declaration of contract breach
In any case, an expert lawyer can provide the necessary guidance.
Prompt Action Is Important — Schedule A Free Consultation
We at the New York and New Jersey Law Offices of Michael P. Berkley, P.C., have been working on complex issues of construction defects for more than two decades. We’re ready to represent contractors or owners at any stage of the claim process. Because of our understanding of the general conditions in addition to architectural and engineering obligations of each party we’re able to provide experienced guidance to arrive at the best possible outcome in your scenario.