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New construction defects: Keep your eye out for these

There is nothing more exciting than building your dream home from the ground up. Once you choose your lot and home design, it's time to sit back and watch your builder take action.

While it's your hope that your home is perfect when you move in, this isn't always the case. New home construction defects are extremely common, so it's critical to keep your eyes open for anything that deserves your attention.

Some of the most common construction defects are related to:

  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC
  • Expansive soils
  • Structural integrity
  • Doors and windows
  • Moisture protection
  • Water intrusion
  • Finishes

If you suspect a construction defect, it will likely fit into one of these four categories:

  • Design deficiencies: Most design deficiencies pertain to building without regard to specified codes. For example, using a roof and gutter design that promotes poor drainage.
  • Material deficiencies: This is often related to the use of inferior building products. Examples include inferior drywall, waterproofing membranes and roofing flashing.
  • Construction deficiencies: Poor workmanship can cause a variety of problems, such as cracks in the foundation, plumbing leaks, roof leak or the rotting of building material.
  • Subsurface deficiencies: Since you can't see subsurface deficiencies, you rely on your builder to manage any potential issues. In California, for example, expansive soil conditions are common. This is particularly true when a home is constructed in a hilly region. If not properly addressed before building, this type of deficiency can result in a cracked foundation, structural shifting and water penetration.

What can you do?

If you spot any type of construction defect, don't delay in discussing your concerns with your builder. By immediately addressing the problem, it's easier for them to find a solution that (hopefully) doesn't delay construction.

If your builder isn't cooperative, you may want to learn more about your legal rights. Forgetting about a construction defect and hoping it doesn't cause trouble down the road is a mistake. This puts you on the hook financially.

Upon reviewing your contract, you'll have a better idea of the steps you can take to seek compensation from the builder. It's not the ideal situation, but if it comes to light you need to protect yourself.

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