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Who is held liable if a building is defective?

California residents may wish to know more about what parties may be held liable when a building contains defects. There are several parties that may be responsible for the defective construction, depending on the situation.

Under California construction law, there are multiple causes of action against those responsible for a construction defect. Depending on the particular cause of action, different parties may be held liable. For instance, for a strict liability claim, in cases where a mass-produced item used in the building construction is defective, the manufacturer, builder of mass-produced homes and subcontractors may be liable for the defect.

When the cause of action is related to a breach of warranty, either express or implied, the party that gave the warranty is usually the party that is held liable. For express warranties, such as contractual promises about the condition of the property, the seller or builder is held liable and there is no question of negligence. In cases of implied warranties, including the statutory warranty that the structure has been built in a workmanlike manner, privity of contract is required in order to sue. This means that the parties must have had an understood contractual relationship.

Every case involving construction law disputes involves different details that might affect the outcome of the case, so this article should not be relied on as legal advice. However, an attorney familiar with construction law may be able to help assess the actions of the builder and the alleged defects in the project in question. The attorney may then be able to bring the appropriate action against the liable party.

Source: US Law, "State of California Construction Law Compendium", Andrea L. Fellion and Rodrigo E. Salas , September 16, 2014

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