NYC Construction Defects Attorney

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Construction projects in New York City require meticulous attention to detail and adherence to quality standards. Despite diligent efforts, construction defects can occur, leading to significant legal disputes between property owners, contractors, developers, and other involved parties.

Construction defects can range from structural issues that affect safety to cosmetic imperfections that impact property value. Water intrusion, faulty design, substandard workmanship, or material failures can be costly. A construction lawyer is essential to help determine responsible parties, understand the scope of property damage, and deal with insurance companies.

At Richman Law Firm PLLC, we understand the gravity of these issues and their impact on your home, building, or business property. Whether you’re a homeowner facing a potential defect claim or a builder seeking legal advice on construction law matters, contact us today for a free consultation.

Understanding Construction Defect Claims

Construction defect claims are complex legal issues that require an understanding of construction law, contract law, and property law. These claims often arise when a property owner discovers a problem with their property that can be traced back to the construction process. The defect could result from poor workmanship, substandard materials, or faulty design.

Identifying the nature of the defect is the first step in determining whether you have a claim. This can be a prominent issue, such as cracks or water leakage, or a hidden problem, like faulty electrical wiring or structural instability. Once a defect is identified, it should be well documented.

The next step is to determine the severity of the defect and whether it warrants legal action. This often involves consulting with construction experts, who assess the extent of the damage and estimate the cost of repairs.

Determining the Potential Responsible Parties

Different parties play different roles in a construction project, so identifying who is responsible for a defect is a critical aspect of any construction defect claim. This process can be complicated, as multiple parties may share responsibility for the defect.

Design Professionals

Designers are tasked with creating structurally sound designs that comply with all relevant building codes and regulations. These professionals may be held accountable when a construction defect is linked to a design flaw. The liability may stem from inadequate planning, oversight, or failure to provide proper materials and building methods specifications.

Examining the contractual agreements with the designer is essential in such cases. These contracts outline the responsibilities of each party. A contract review can help determine if there has been a breach of professional duty that would warrant legal action.

Builders

Builders and contractors are responsible for executing the construction project according to plans and specifications. They must ensure that the work meets industry standards and all relevant building codes. The builder may be liable if a defect occurs due to poor workmanship or substandard materials.

Determining builder liability often involves investigating the construction process—reviewing contracts, inspecting the work performed, and consulting experts. In some cases, builders may also be held accountable for defects caused by subcontractors they hired.

Material Suppliers & Vendors

Material suppliers and vendors play a crucial role in the construction process. They provide quality materials that meet industry standards and comply with the specifications outlined in the design plans.

Defects can sometimes be traced back to inherently flawed supplies or materials that failed prematurely under normal conditions. Proving liability against a material supplier or vendor involves product testing, expert evaluations, and a detailed review of purchase orders and delivery receipts.

When pursuing claims against suppliers and vendors, it is necessary to determine whether defective materials caused property damage or other issues within the construction project.

Types of Property Damage Claims That May Be Recoverable

Defects can lead to a wide range of property damages, impacting a property’s value, safety, and usability. If you have suffered property damage due to a construction defect, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. An NYC construction attorney can help determine whether you will likely recover the damage caused by a defect.

Here are some common types of property damage that may be recovered in a defect claim:

Water Defects

Water intrusion is one of the most common types of defects. It can occur due to faulty roofing, improper window and door installation, inadequate waterproofing, or poor drainage design. Water damage can lead to mold, structural damage, and finish deterioration. Compensation for water defects may cover the cost of repairs, mold remediation, and decreases in property value.

Fire Hazards

Fire hazards are a concern in construction defect disputes. They can result from faulty electrical wiring, improper heating system installation, or the use of flammable materials. Fire hazards can lead to catastrophic property damage and pose a risk to personal safety. Compensation for fire hazards may cover the cost of property repairs, replacement of damaged items, and potential personal injury claims.

Structural Defects

Structural defects can compromise a building’s integrity and safety. These defects can result from poor workmanship, faulty design, or substandard materials. Structural defects can include issues with the foundation, load-bearing walls, beams, columns, or roofing systems.

These defects can lead to significant property damage and may even render a property inhabitable. Compensation for structural defects may cover the cost of repairs or reconstruction, temporary housing costs, and decreases in property value.

Faulty Electrical Wiring

Faulty electrical wiring is a common construction defect that can lead to electrical fires, power outages, and damage to appliances and electronic devices. If an electrical system defect occurs due to poor workmanship or substandard materials, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. This could include the cost of repairs or replacement of damaged items and increased utility bills.

Subsidence

Subsidence is the gradual sinking or downward settling of a building’s foundation. This can occur due to poor soil compaction, inadequate site preparation, or faulty design. Subsidence can lead to structural damage and may require extensive repairs.

Compensation for subsidence may cover the cost of underpinning or other remedial work, decreases in property value, and potential displacement costs.

Mold

Mold growth is often caused by water intrusion due to construction defects such as faulty plumbing or roofing. It can cause significant property damage and pose health risks to occupants.

If mold growth is linked to a construction defect, you may be entitled to compensation for mold remediation costs, medical expenses related to mold exposure, decreased property value, and potential relocation costs.

Faulty Plumbing or Roofing

Faulty plumbing or roofing systems are common sources of construction defects. These issues can lead to water damage, which can cause mold growth, flooring damage, and structural damage.

If a defect in the plumbing or roofing system is due to poor workmanship or the use of wrong materials, you may be entitled to compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement, building damage, mold remediation costs, and a drop in property value.

Insurance Bad Faith Claims

Property owners often rely on their insurance companies to cover the costs associated with construction defects. However, insurance companies do not always act in good faith when handling these claims.

Here are some common issues our clients have faced:

Denied Claims/Disclaimed Coverage Claims

Insurance companies must act in good faith when handling defective construction claims. This means they must reasonably explain denials and pay out on valid claims. If your insurance company has denied your claim without a valid reason, you may have a case for insurance bad faith.

Proving that an insurance company acted in bad faith can be challenging. It requires demonstrating that the insurer had no reasonable basis for denying the claim and that they knew or should have known this at the time.

Delayed Responses

Timely response to insurance claims is another crucial aspect of an insurer’s duty of good faith. Unreasonable delays in acknowledging, investigating, or paying out on a claim can cause policyholders significant financial strain and stress. If your insurance company has failed to respond to your claim on time, it may constitute bad faith.

Misinterpretation of Policy Coverage

Insurance policies are often complicated documents filled with legal jargon. However, insurance companies must interpret these policies fairly and in favor of coverage. If your insurer has misinterpreted your policy coverage to avoid paying out on a defect claim, it may constitute bad faith.

Proving misinterpretation of policy coverage requires a keen understanding of insurance law and construction contracts.

If your insurance company has denied your claim without a valid reason, delayed their response to your claim, or misinterpreted your policy coverage to avoid paying out on a claim, you may have a case for insurance bad faith.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Whether you are dealing with design defects or more serious construction defects, our construction attorneys understand construction regulations and New York insurance laws. We provide clients in the construction industry with personalized legal representation in construction defect disputes. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    SCOTT B. RICHMAN, ESQ.

    Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines. ​

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