Building a new home is a time-consuming, stressful process that can have a lot of payoffs for the new homeowner. For one, if you have been monitoring the construction to some extent, you may have reasonable confidence that the construction is being done right and that contractors and subcontractors are not cutting corners.
You can also generally expect to have fewer problems with a new home that you might with a pre-owned home — fewer pests, less risk of mold or structural problems, etc. Except that is not always the case.
What happens if you have moved into your new home and you are already noticing problems? Who is responsible? What can you do?
Common Types of Construction Defects
Construction defects are not uncommon, but they are not always obvious. Many construction defects are discovered when the homeowner hires an independent inspector prior to a warranty period expiring.
A few examples of the many types of construction defects include:
- Significant cracks in the foundation
- Abnormal soil movement causing floor slab unevenness
- Leaky roofs
- Leaky windows
- Faulty plumbing
- Faulty framing
- Moisture problems from improper drainage or waterproofing
- Bowing or slanting of floors or walls
What Can You Do If You Suspect a Construction Defect?
The first thing you can do if you are having problems is to notify the builder. Most builders have someone who handles repairs and issues on new homes during the term of the warranty. If your new home carries a warranty, usually there are issues that are covered for the first year, others for 2 years, and others for 10 years. These warranties usually have a number of exceptions.
In general, things like labor and materials are covered under the 1-year warranty, mechanical problems like plumbing, electricity, and HVAC under the 2-year warranty, and structural defects under the 10-year warranty. This will differ from builder to builder, of course, so check your specific warranty handbook, if you have a warranty.
But if you are convinced that the issue is more serious than the builder will acknowledge, or if the builder does not satisfactorily remedy the issue, or if the problem is not covered by warranty, what can you do?
You can pressure the builder to fix issues by hiring an independent inspector. It is especially important to do this before the end of each warranty term so that you can have problems addressed before time runs out. You can also seek legal help to enforce your rights.
Filing a Construction Defect Claim
If you are not able to reach a satisfactory result working with the builder, you can file a construction defect claim. If you go this route, keep in mind that there are laws in North and South Carolina that impose a time limit on certain lawsuits. The statute of limitations in North Carolina for construction defects is 3 years from the time that the developer turns over control of the home to the owners. In South Carolina, the statute of limitation is 2 to 3 years, depending on the nature of the claim. That time starts being counted from the time when you discover or reasonably should have discovered the defect.
If you need help resolving a dispute over a construction defect, get legal help now from the law firm of Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call us today at 1-800-533-6845. We serve Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including Asheville, Greenville, Spartanburg, Waynesville and Franklin.