What are affirmative defenses for alleged construction defects?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Construction contract

In California, if a property owner hires designers, builders, contractors and others to perform construction work or repairs, there is an expectation that the completed project will be free of defects. When defects are found, it leaves open the possibility for legal action. Whether it is residential or commercial, this is often assessed from the viewpoint of the property owner. However, those who were involved with conceiving the design or completing the work also have rights when there are accusations of wrongdoing. Crafting a defense based on the law is key to reaching a positive result.

Understanding an affirmative defense in a construction defect case

Even if there is a construction defect, the circumstances surrounding it could avoid liability. For example, if the defect came about because of an act of nature that could not be foreseen such as an earthquake and the project otherwise adhered to the law at the time it was done, then there is no basis to sue the designer, material manufacturer, contractor, subcontractor or anyone else. The owner also bears some responsibility in these cases. Hypothetically, if there were steps that could be taken to minimize or outright prevent damages including having repairs done or informing the builder of defects in a timely manner, then this too is a defense. The builder is responsible for responding to complaints. Failure to do so is not a defense.

Those involved with the project will generally give recommendations for maintenance and upkeep. If the owner does not adhere to this guidance and there was a detailed schedule to do so, it can avoid litigation as there is no responsibility on the part of those who were involved in the inception and creation of the building. If homeowners caused the damage or it was due to normal wear and tear, neglect, abuse or the structure being used for reasons other than its intent, this will be a defense against construction defect claims.

Fighting back against construction defect claims can protect a business

Construction defect litigation is not just a challenge financially, but it can severely damage reputations. Since word of mouth and legal history is often a part of how a designer, builder or contractor is judged, allegations of creating projects in which defects are found can do great harm. There are many avenues of defense that can be effective. That includes showing that there were no defects, the design was completed according to the law and the builders were aboveboard and competent in their work. There are also legal protections like these affirmative defenses. To defend against a claim, it is important to have professional help that is experienced in these types of cases.