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What is a passive construction defect?

Some construction defects are so serious that they pose a safety risk. If the framing is done incorrectly there could be a risk of a roof collapse, for instance. Poor electrical work that cuts corners could be a fire risk.

These types of defects could lead to injuries or even fatalities. But what about more minor issues?

For instance, maybe you picked out a marble counter top and then the builder put in a faux-marble material. Or, perhaps you wanted the house to simply be painted white on the inside, for a clean modern look, and the painting crew used bold blues and reds instead. Or, perhaps the cabinets were not installed very well and they don't open easily. It's a constant headache trying to move around the kitchen.

Technically, your new home is fine. It works. You're not in danger. There's no risk.

At the same time, this is clearly not the level of craftsmanship you wanted. This is not the house you wanted.

These issues are known as passive defects. While they may seem minor to some people, you still had certain reasonable expectations when you signed the contract, and they were not met. As you fix the problems, it's going to cost money and time. If you don't fix them, you'll be unhappy with the home and you'll feel cheated; you never would have signed if you knew this was the home you were buying.

Don't take passive defects lightly. Make sure you know your legal rights. Contractors are obligated to provide a reasonably high level of service and to abide by the contracts both parties signed when the job began.

Source: International Risk Management Institute, "Construction defect," accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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