What is a Construction Defect?

What is a Construction Defect?

So what is a construction defect anyway? How is it different from the normal wear of a home? And why should builders and developers be held accountable for their work?

Defining construction defects legally can be pretty tricky. Even though nearby states like Arizona and Nevada specify what constitutes a construction defect, Colorado law doesn’t. But the US Department of Housing and Urban Development does, important because they fund affordable housing projects across the country, including Colorado.

A construction defect is actual physical damage that makes a home unsafe, unsanitary or otherwise unlivable – or construction done using defective materials and/or failing to implement generally accepted workmanship standards in the community. Examples range from crumbling foundations and flooding basements to leaking roofs and dangerous wiring.

So what isn’t included? General use of a home, homeowner neglect and cosmetic finishes like paints do not qualify as structural defects. Despite developer complaints that minor problems like these are responsible for litigation, that’s just not true.

Five of the most common defects include:

  1. Post-tensioned foundations: Techniques to increase the strength of concrete – post-tensioning or pre-stressing – are sometimes used in home foundations. But foundations like this can move on the soil it sits on, leading to significant problems with drywall, windows, doors and more.
  2. Sound: Builders and developers often cut corners on insulation even though it leads to poor noise insulation. In condominiums, where units are close together. This is a huge privacy and quality of life issue.
  3. Basement Digging: Skimping soil tests is a common problem because they can predict shifting and moisture that causes rot.  
  4. Waterproofing: Installing concrete directly next to a rubber membrane along underground and side walls creates a bond that makes repairing holes in the rubber almost impossible in the event of water leakage.  
  5. Mulled windows: Windows that are “mulled” – or stuck together end to end – are common but the bonds between them are often faulty, leading to poor insulation and lack of resistance to weather.
The most dangerous defects can cause serious injuries, many of which can’t be identified within the six years Coloradans are allowed to file a legal complaint. Even non-dangerous defects require expensive repairs and can lead to decreased home value, causing homeowners a great deal of distress.


Homeowners expect the most expensive purchase they will ever make – their home – will be built right. When builders use substandard practices or subpar materials, homeowners should have the right to be made whole.

Message to developers: Build our homes right the first time!

Build Our Homes Right