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Construction defect liability in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2024 | Business Litigation

Construction defects can lead to significant legal problems for contractors. Knowing the liability rules for these defects is crucial for contractors in Pennsylvania.

Types of construction defects

There are four major types of construction defects. 

  • Design flaws: Mistakes in the architectural plans or engineering designs.
  • Material flaws: Use of poor or wrong building materials.
  • Construction flaws: Poor workmanship causing structural issues.
  • Subsurface flaws: Problems from soil conditions and improper site preparation.

Depending on the type of defect, consequences can range in severity from aesthetic issues to structural instability. The legal consequences of each depend on that severity. Dangerous defects could potentially carry criminal consequences in addition to any civil suits.

Time limits for filing claims

Pennsylvania has strict time limits for filing defect claims. Plaintiffs have two years from discovering the defect to file a lawsuit. They must file defect claims within twelve years of finishing construction, no matter when someone found the defect.

Indemnity and insurance

To reduce risks, contractors should include indemnity clauses in their contracts and get good insurance. Indemnity clauses can shift liability from one party to another, protecting contractors. General liability insurance and specific construction defect insurance can help cover claims and legal costs.

Practical steps for contractors

Contractors can take several steps to lower the risk of construction defect liability. 

Before construction begins, you should carefully review all designs. Ensure that they make sense and are structurally sound before proceeding. Throughout construction, you must also inspect your materials and check for any defects in composition or workmanship. 

Frequent inspections can help catch defects early, preventing problems that are more difficult to fix down the road. 

Proactive risk management for construction defect liability

Understanding and managing construction defect liability is vital for contractors in Pennsylvania. By staying aware and following processes, contractors can protect themselves from claims and ensure their projects succeed.