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New York Construction Law Blog

Is a client making a claim over a building design flaw?

Posted by Karl Silverberg | May 03, 2022 | 0 Comments

So many things can go wrong with a big construction project. There can be supply chain complications that lead to delays. The weather can significantly slow down different stages of the build. Bad workmanship and cheap materials could result in issues with the finished project.

Design flaws can also manifest after your company finishes its work on the project. Issues with an edifice's design may mean that the building collapses or doesn't hold up to inclement weather as it should.

As a general contractor or construction company, you do your best to make the dreams of your client a reality. Can they take you to court over a design issue?

Did your company create or subcontract for the design?

Design defects are typically the responsibilities of the licensed and insured architectural and engineering professionals that create and review them. If your firm designed the building or hired the company that did the design work for a remodeling or expansion project, then you could face design defect claims from unhappy clients.

However, that liability will typically only fall to your company if you played a direct role in the design itself or you hired the professionals who created the design. If the client came to you to ask if you could take existing blueprints and do the work, then you are not necessarily responsible for the poor outcome caused by design flaws.

Other possible design defect defenses

If your company played a role in the creation of the design, you may still have ways to defend against a defect claim based on the design itself. The first would be to show that the defect claim is inaccurate. What the client reports as a design defect might be an exaggerated or completely fabricated version of events.

Other times, the issue may not actually be the result of the design, but a client's specific request, like having the building oriented toward a certain direction. Speaking of client requests, if your firm addressed possible design issues with the client, particularly in writing, you could use their dismissal of those concerns as part of your defense against the claims they have made against your business.

Showing that another professional would have engaged in the same behavior or that you are ultimately not the liable party can help you fight back against construction defect claims for projects your company has already completed.

About the Author

Karl Silverberg

Karl Silverberg Contact Me: (631) 778-6077 Email me Practice Areas: Construction Law Biography Prior to law school, Mr. Silverberg worked as a professional engineer, and has eight years of experience working as a structural engineer on public sector transportation projects. Mr. Silver...


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