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What is a patent defect in construction?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Construction Law

When it comes to construction defects, some of them can be hidden. For instance, there could be issues with electrical or plumbing systems that are hidden within the walls. There could be complications with the foundation that a homeowner would never see because it’s covered by flooring. These are known as latent defects.

But on the other side of the coin, there are patent defects. These are things that are not hidden and that should be fairly obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of home construction. They would certainly be obvious to a home inspector.

How this can change the case

When someone is looking into a construction defect case, they may specify which type of defect they believe exists, and it can significantly alter how the case proceeds. 

For instance, some property owners will claim that there’s a latent defect years after the fact, when the reality is that it’s just the result of normal wear and tear. It’s not as if there has been a hidden defect in the roof for 20 years; if it starts leaking, that’s just because the homeowner has reached the lifespan of the roof.

But with patent defects, since they’re clear right away, they are not the result of wear and tear. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the construction company’s fault. Maybe the architect created a faulty design. Perhaps a subcontractor was responsible. Maybe the homeowners themselves gave conflicting instructions or changed their minds, leading to results that they are simply not happy with – even though the job was done to their specifications.

Either way, though, it’s very important for those involved in this process to know what type of defects are alleged and all of the potential defense options at their disposal.