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Latent vs patent construction defects

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Construction Disputes

When a construction company is sued for an alleged defect, one of the first steps is determining what type of defect it actually is. There are many different examples, and it’s important for all parties to know exactly what is being alleged while considering potential liability.

Construction defects can broadly be grouped into two different categories: Patent defects and latent defects. How are these different?

Obvious defects during an inspection

First of all, a patent defect is something that is generally obvious during an inspection. The homeowner may notice it, even though they are not a licensed home inspector.

For example, if the homeowner enters a new building and there are cracks in the drywall or water stains on the ceiling, they know that something is wrong with the house. Other examples could be electrical systems or plumbing systems that just don’t work at all, even when the homeowner tries to turn them on.

Hidden defects

Latent defects, on the other hand, are things that are hidden and may not be clear. During the inspection, the homeowner would think that the house was in good condition.

But those issues could become serious in the future. For instance, maybe there are wiring issues hidden in the walls that lead to a house fire or plumbing issues that cause a leaking pipe to burst in the ceiling. At first, everything seems fine, but there are hidden issues from the very beginning.

Defending against such allegations

Once the type of defect has been determined, construction company owners can consider what steps they need to take to defend themselves. It’s important to understand what legal options there are at this time.