What is a latent construction defect?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2023 | Construction Law

There are a few different types of construction defects. Most people imagine defects that are instantly recognizable. If they go in the basement and there are cracks in the new foundation, there’s clearly a problem. If they try to turn on the lights and sections of the electrical system don’t work just after they’ve moved in, they know there’s an issue with the quality of the construction. The home wouldn’t pass a basic inspection.

But things can be a bit more complicated when it comes to latent defects. These are hidden defects that are much easier to overlook. Something could still be wrong, but it may not be clear that there’s an issue for months or even years. This makes cases much more complicated because a homeowner may genuinely believe there aren’t any defects immediately after the job has been completed.

Is it natural wear and tear?

Another potential issue with latent defects is that the contractor may argue that the issue was just a result of normal wear and tear that the homeowner should’ve expected.

For instance, say that the roof starts to leak. Is the issue that the roofing company did not do an adequate job when installing the shingles? Did they cut corners or skip important steps? Or is the issue simply that there was a storm in the area, the roof was damaged, the homeowner neglected to fix it and now the roof is leaking?

As you can imagine, both sides may see this situation very differently. That’s why it’s crucial for those who are dealing with latent defects to understand exactly what legal options they have and how to proceed.