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Developer liability in construction defect cases

California residents may be interested in some information about how a developer may be liable for construction defects. These theories of liability allow a property owner to sue when the building was not properly constructed.

Construction defect cases generally rely on one of several construction law causes of action. These include negligence, breach of contract or warranty and fraud. Negligence occurs when the developer is held to a particular standard of care and fails to live up to that duty. When the property owner is harmed by this failure in the form of a defect, the contractor may be held liable. This usually includes liability for the actions or negligence of their subcontractors as well.

A contract between the property owner and the developer can lead to both breach of contract and breach of warranty, both express and implied. If the building is not built substantially to the specifications in the contract, there could be a legal action to recover funds to make it right. An implied warranty of reasonable workmanlike construction has been found by courts, which could give rise to liability if not met. Lastly, failure to live up to any express warranties written into the contract could also make the developer liable for damages. When a developer has no intention of living up to the promises in the contract or misrepresents the quality of the construction, they could be liable for fraud or misrepresentation.

The damages in a construction defect case are meant to make a property owner whole and remedy the defect. An attorney with experience in construction law may be able to assess the defective construction and determine whether the developer is liable for fixing the defect. The attorney may then be able to bring a lawsuit against the developer or negotiate a settlement.

Source: Findlaw, "Legal Liability for Construction Defects", September 04, 2014

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