My roof is leaking; defects after construction. What to I do?

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You’ve moved into your amazing new building; everything is settling in smoothly. Customers love it. You walk in one day only to find the floor unexpectedly waterlogged.

Your heart sinks.

What do I do?

Who’s fault is this?

Ever experienced this? Maybe the floor is peeling, or a crack has appeared in the corner. Discovering defects after construction can be stressful and frustrating. Don’t worry—there are three simple steps you can take to address the issues and ensure your development is safe and up to standards.

Step 1: Identify and Document the Defects

The first step is to carefully inspect the construction and document any visible defects. Common issues might include cracks, water-stained surfaces, mouldy smells, uneven flooring, or more serious issues like faulty electrical systems. Make a detailed list of what you find – photos, videos, and notes. Every detail is crucial.

I recently had a project where there was water finding its way to the floor. Neither the client nor the builder was aware of the issue. As I was walking through the project, I noticed blackening of the skirting and one of the carpet tiles lifting.

Photo  PM

Step 2: Notify your superintendent / Architect

After reviewing the defect and establishing potential causes, the first thing I did was check the construction contract and any warranties provided by the builder.

Most contracts include clauses that specify the process in dealing with defects. The key is understanding all parties’ obligations during the defect’s liability period. During the tender period we generally advise our clients which contracts to use. Once the contract is signed, we are governed by their terms.

Step 3: Notify the Builder

After I made my independent assessment of the situation, I met with the builder, discussed the issue and created a work plan to address the issue. After further exploratory investigations with the builder, we discovered water was entering the building from the window sill. After providing new sealants and additional water proofing, the issue was on its way to being resolved.

Photo  AM

Tips and Tricks

Tip 1: Invest in good advice before tender. 

Tip 2: If the builder fixes any faulty work, the Defects Liability Period is usually extended to make sure the repairs are also free from defects.

Tip 3: Maintain Open Communication, keep good paper trails.

Tip 4: Don’t get impatient and break your contractual obligations. The builder needs to be given time to respond and address.

Tip 5: Only Seek Legal Advice if the builder is being unresponsive. Your Architect should advise you how to proceed.  

In Conclusion

Discovering defects after construction is completed can be a daunting experience, but by investing in professional advice and following these steps, you can address the issues effectively. Remember to stay calm, be thorough and detailed in your documentation.