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The difference between patent and latent construction defects

Construction defect claims take many different forms. It’s important to understand the main two types of defects if you get accused of having a role in such a defect after a custom home is built.

The first type of defect is a patent defect. This is one that an inspector — or a homeowner — can find simply by looking at the home. For example, if the company installs the wrong cabinets or countertops in the kitchen, the homeowner may notice it immediately upon entering the space, even before the home is complete. If the electrician does not use knockouts in the electrical boxes, creating a fire hazard, the inspector may see it instantly when checking the box.

The second type is a latent defect. This is essentially a hidden defect that, though it could be far more hazardous than a patent defect, is not as clear upon a simple inspection. For instance, if there are structural design mistakes that could potentially lead to a roof collapse under high winds, the house may look beautiful from the outside. The issues may be hidden from the homeowner and may never even expose themselves until the perfect conditions are met.

There is some overlap here, in that a homeowner carrying out an inspection may not notice anything wrong, while a trained home inspector may find the problem.

Regardless, if you get accused of contributing to a defect, you need to know what options you have. This is especially true if you don’t think it was a design defect but instead an issue with the quality of work carried out by a contractor.