Construction Defects Attorney

Andrew Douglas, P.A. is a construction defects attorney.

Many types of construction defects can devalue your property by undermining its structural integrity or aesthetic qualities, reducing its expected lifespan, and/or increasing maintenance costs to you. In the worst case, they can cause health or safety concerns if left unresolved. A construction defect exists when the components of a building (or the constructed elements surrounding the building) fail to perform their intended function or do not conform to the building codes and other standards applicable in your city or county.


The roofing system contains many components, such as framing, plywood decking, felt underlayment, sheet metal flashings and the exterior roofing material. Construction defects of roof systems can cause damage to personal property in a home or building, and also to the interior framing members, ceilings, drywall, and paint by allowing water into the building. Common roof system construction defects are:

  • Roof shingles or tiles improperly lapped, nailed, or aligned
  • Ripped, broken, or missing roof shingles or tiles
  • Roof paper fails to completely cover roof deck
  • Missing or improperly integrated edge metal
  • Missing or inadequate sheet metal flashings
  • Improper valley construction
  • Failure to use corrosion-resistant nails
  • Improperly installed skylights
  • Improper or missing membrane system in low-sloped areas

Grading and Drainage

Good site drainage is an essential part of a functional home and a long lasting foundation system. Unfortunately, builders often do not follow the recommendations of their soils engineers and civil engineers, leaving grading and drainage conditions that do not effectively remove rainwater, or groundwater, away from the structure and off the site. Poor grading and drainage is often caused by inadequate soil compaction by the earthworker, and can cause the following problems, among others:

  • Soil settlement or heave
  • Concrete flatwork movement and distress
  • Asphalt pavement movement and distress
  • Building foundation movement and distress
  • Water intrusion into buildings through door thresholds, basement window wells, or basement walls
  • Mold, fungus, and rotted building materials
  • Corrosion of metal construction materials such as foundation cables, anchor bolts, and structural steel framing members

Structural Damage

The structural components of a building include the building foundation, framing, roof trusses, and floor joists. These pieces make up the “backbone” of a home, and support everything in it. Structural components of a home are designed to withstand the forces that a home will be faced with over its lifetime, including soil pressure, wind, and possibly earthquakes. Construction defects in structural components increase the probability and extent of injury to inhabitants and damage to the structure and its contents. Most commonly found defects include:

  • Differential building movement and foundation damage due to heaving or settling soils
  • Foundation damage due to corrosion and failure of post-tension cables
  • Poor foundation design such as use of slab-on-grade floors or inadequate foundation piers
  • Missing or inadequate plywood shear walls
  • Missing or inadequately installed drag straps, tie downs, or other framing straps
  • Improperly engineered floor or ceiling joists, or roof trusses

Windows and Doors

Symptoms of leaking or otherwise defective windows and doors include stuck or fogged windows, water leaks around or through the windows or sliding doors, and drywall cracks around a window or door. Water intrusion also permits growth of molds and fungi, causing unhealthy living conditions and inferior air quality. Defect issues related to windows and doors include:

  • Windows leak at corners
  • Plugged or damaged window weeps
  • Improperly lapped or missing flexible, self-adhesive window flashings
  • Missing sheet metal head flashing
  • Improper lapping of building paper
  • Tears in waterproofing building paper or house wrap
  • Defects in exterior cladding materials such as siding, stucco, or masonry
  • Use of windows not suited to Colorado’s climate that do not have adequate thermal breaks

Concrete and Asphalt

Concrete and asphalt damage are often some of the first defects to be noticed by homeowners. Concrete and asphalt problems can be indicated by cracked, heaved, sunken, or spalled pavements. Pavement drainage problems can either be indicated by water ponding on pavements, or water that flows towards and into buildings rather than away from them. Concrete and asphalt problems can be caused by improper installation, improper design, or improper coordination or allocation of work amongst the various subcontractor trades.

Balconies and Decks

Proper construction of balconies and decks relies upon good coordination and oversight of multiple subcontractor trades, and is often not done correctly by homebuilders and other general contractors. Inadequate deck and balcony construction can lead to water intrusion into homes and condominium units, and premature rot and other damage to the structural framing members that hold up the decks and balconies. Common defects include:

  • Improper installation of waterproof membrane such as failure to seal seams or lap edges upward
  • Improper integration of waterproof membrane with stucco, siding, masonry, or other cladding materials
  • Improper integration of waterproof membrane with sliding door thresholds
  • Failure to correctly install (or to install at all) edge metal
  • Failure to provide adequate slope on lightweight concrete topping
  • Improperly installed or missing deck or balcony drain systems


Good plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems are essential to a comfortable, functional home. When these systems are carelessly installed, health and safety issues can arise such as carbon monoxide exposure, just to name one. Common plumbing, HVAC, and electrical defects include:

  • Inadequate water pressure
  • Improperly installed water heaters and water heater vents
  • Inadequately sized water heaters, heaters, and AC units
  • Improperly installed air unit vents and condensation drains
  • Improper and dangerous dryer vent exhaust ducts
  • Improperly installed or missing backflow valves or pressure relief valves
  • Corrosion and leaks in copper water piping
  • Excessive sound transfer
  • Improper weather protection of exterior fixtures
  • Missing or misaligned drains in HVAC closets

Sound Transmission

Nothing ruins the experience of moving into a new townhome or condominium more than realizing that you can hear the every word of your neighbor in the next unit over. The building code sets minimum sound transmission standards for adjoining units in multifamily housing. Builders often fail to design party walls, floors and ceilings to adequately prevent sound transmission, or they “value engineer” a proper design so that it is rendered ineffective. Sound testing done by a qualified, specialized engineer can determine whether or not your home has adequate sound protection.

Exterior Cladding (siding, stucco, EIFS, masonry)

Correct installation of exterior systems, and correct integration of the different systems when more than one is used on a particular building is critical to keeping water and other weather away from the structural framing and out of the home’s interior. Common exterior cladding defects include:

  • Missing building paper or building wrap
  • Improperly nailed siding
  • Improperly lapped or terminated building paper or building wrap
  • Missing or improper sheet metal flashings where dissimilar materials abut one another
  • Stucco or masonry without proper weep holes at bottom termination
  • Exterior cladding with inadequate clearance to, or buried in landscape materials or concrete
  • Missing head flashings at windows and doors
  • Lack of control joints in stucco or masonry
  • Failure to seal plumbing and other penetrations through the exterior cladding system
  • Poor integration of cladding materials with roofing and windows systems
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