Construction Defects: What Are They, Why Do They Happen, and What to Do About Them

Generally, construction defects refer to a deficiency in the construction process – be that in design, materials, or workmanship – which leads to a failure in some aspect of the structure being built, and that causes damage to a person or property (financial or otherwise). To put it another way, a construction defect must include all 3 of the following:

· a deficiency in the construction process itself (resulting from poor design, materials, or workmanship)

· the deficiency must lead to a failure in the structure (that’s being built during the project)

· that failure must cause damage to a person or property (financial damages or otherwise).

Sometimes, a defect might be as simple as falling short of an owner’s expectations. Other times, it could be as serious as a structural defect in the property. Obviously, construction defects and the resulting fallout will vary greatly based on the source and severity of the issue at hand.


Why Do They Happen?

The principal reason is that the standard for builders is incredibly high. New homes and/or buildings are designed by humans, built by humans, of natural and imperfect materials, in the elements, over a period of months. Given this variability, it is unrealistic to expect that any home or building will technically comply with some litigation expert’s interpretation of every code. There is no such thing as perfect construction, yet that is the standard for new homes and buildings despite the following 4 truths.


·         We build on the ground! Mother Earth (the ground) is unpredictable.

·         We build most of our structures with wood.  Wood is organic.  Mother Nature did not design wood to be a predictable, reliable building material.  It is dimensionally unstable, changing shape as it ages and as temperature and humidity change.

·         We use human beings to build our homes and commercial buildings!  Human beings are not perfect.  Further, there seem to be fewer skilled human beings available to help build homes.

·         We build outside!  That’s the worst practice of all!  The same Mother Nature that gives us imperfect wood with which to build, then throws unpredictable weather at us while we build.

Unlike most of the products we buy, buildings are not built in a controlled manufacturing environment.  (The exception, of course, is the manufactured housing industry which still represents only a small portion of the residential construction industry in the United States.)  Homes, offices, apartments, hotels, etc. are built in the real world!

What to Do About Them


First and foremost, as a builder, take care of your clients!  Address any and all concerns immediately and offer to repair any issues which appear.  Essentially, follow the old adage, treat the client as you would want to be treated. A happy client is a client who does not look for problems with your work but looks for reasons to celebrate your work.  The time and money invested in this is only a fraction of what it costs to go through the litigation process.


Unfortunately, the world isn’t perfect, and inevitably, a builder may find themselves involved in a dispute.  In this case, it’s best to get a construction defect specialist involved as early as possible.  CORE Consulting Group has a full team of experience builders and architects, so please don’t hesitate to contact the experts at CORE to discuss your case at or (858) 879-6400 today!