Building defects are growing concern in the industry. Ideally, potential defects are identified prior to construction or remedy in the field prior to occupancy and subsequent damage. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

What constitutes a construction defect and how do you prevent it?

Construction defect is a global term that encompasses both design errors (or omissions) as well as construction installation errors (or omissions). Defects are also relative to schedule. In other words, an issue is not a defect until it crosses a certain milestone. For example, if sill flashing is not installed prior to installing a window but a quality control check identifies this issue prior to installing the window the issue is rectified prior to it becoming a defect. On the other hand, if the window is installed without the sill flashing and at some point it is discovered and work has to be removed to install the missing sill flashing than it is now considered a defect.

The quicker an issue is discovered and resolved the better off the project is. In order to accomplish this, there needs to be a good quality control program in place. I refer to this as a defect management process. The steps in a defect management process are:

  1. Define critical defect metrics
  2. Identify critical risks
  3. Identify process improvements
  4. Develop defect management plan
  5. Pilot the defect management process

Be wary of imposters: At times lack of maintenance by a building owner may be construed as a design or construction defect.

More often than not there will be many contributing factors to a building defect. These contributing factors may be design, construction, or both. Often times a design problem is exacerbated by poor installation thereby compounding the impact of the issue had it only been the result of either the design or the construction independently.

Be Proactive

Tim Schap, AIA, REWC
ph: (513) 271-9026 x109

(If you would like a 1HR AIA LU/HSW accredited presentation on this topic (and many others), and are located in OH, IN, IL, MI, WI, KY, AL, MS, TN, please contact Tim Schap, AIA, REWC.)




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