Determining liability for construction defects

Any major construction project will involve numerous parties, from architects and engineers to contractors and suppliers. With so many people contributing to a single project, issues can arise when determining liability for problems like construction defects.

Defects in construction can lead to dangerous conditions, extensive damage and costly delays. Because of this, properly determining liability for a specific defect will be critical.

Finding the source of the defect

As an example, water leaks can be indicative of a construction defect. However, the source may not be immediately clear, and thorough investigation is often necessary. This should reveal whether the leak was the result of a defective design, improper construction or substandard materials.

Depending on the source of the defect, designers, contractors or suppliers could be responsible for resolving the defect and covering losses.

Reviewing contracts

Most construction contracts will include liability provisions. These have a dramatic effect on which party is legally responsible for a defect.

One common provision is an indemnity provision. Generally, these clauses indemnify or protect one party from costs resulting from the acts of someone else. This provision typically appears in contracts between contractors and subcontractors. It covers contractors from having to pay expenses incurred by negligence or failed performance of a subcontractor.

Consequences of defects and liability

Properly assigning liability ensures the appropriate party is responsible for repairing the defect and paying damages.

However, these situations can be highly complex and again, they may involve numerous parties. As such, parties involved in any construction project will want to be sure they have valid contracts and understand the terms within. And before admitting or refusing anything in terms of liability, it can be wise to secure legal representation.

Construction defects can have steep penalties and threaten the completion and safety of a project. As such, it is crucial to take seriously the liability for these matters and understand what, if any, liability you may have in the event of a defect.

SederLaw’s Litigation team routinely represents contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, design professionals, developers and property owners. We are often involved in contract drafting and negotiation, development of construction and building projects, project administration, disputes, claims, mediation, arbitration and litigation involving construction law and related issues. Broad in scope and experience, our construction law attorneys possess an extensive knowledge of federal, state and local law, addressing everything from mechanic’s lien requirements and bonding issues to breach of contract, and construction defect claims.

Attorney Kurt Binder’s practice is concentrated in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law and business and corporate matters. He serves as counsel to a number of closely-held businesses on matters involving commercial contract drafting and negotiation, employment policies and procedures, and corporate governance. Mr. Binder has tried cases in state and federal court before both judges and juries. He regularly appears before various state and federal administrative agencies and participates in resolution of private sector disputes in both mediation and arbitration.

Mr. Binder carries Martindale-Hubbell’s highest bestowed rating of “AV” and is a fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, which is an invitation only trial lawyer honorary society composed of less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers.


Kurt Binder



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