When subcontractor issues lead to construction defect claims

A construction defect claim brought by a dissatisfied customer or client can be a very expensive issue for a construction company. Issues with different systems and finishes within the house might prompt a client to file a complaint or possibly even take legal action against the organization that oversaw the construction work. The company may need to redo work or compensate the disappointed client.

A former client pursuing a construction defect claim may have a complaint about work that was done by a subcontractor. Large construction projects often do not solely utilize the skills and services of the employees of the construction company. It is common to bring in numerous subcontractors for specialty work like tile or HVAC installation.

What happens when a subcontractor is the party at fault for a construction issue that leads to a client’s defect claim?

The subcontractor may be responsible

The construction firm that hired the subcontractor likely shared all of the specific project requirements with the subcontractor and negotiated for them to perform work that meets those contractual standards. If the client feels dissatisfied with the outcome of the project, then the possibility exists to show that the work does not conform to contractual expectations. The construction firm can potentially negotiate with the subcontractor or take legal action in a separate case to compel them to redo the work or reimburse the firm for the costs associated with the defect claim.

The best protections are proactive

An organization seeking to avoid expensive construction defect claims or liability for those claims may need to plan carefully during both client and subcontractor contract negotiations. Being very clear about the expectations of clients can help prevent scenarios in which miscommunication and unmet expectations lead to litigation. Including clear standards for subcontractors and clauses that outline how the business may react to a defect claim related to their work can also be beneficial. Proper supervision is also important. Even trusted subcontractors can occasionally turn out unusually low-quality work.

Construction firms that prioritize protective contracts and that carefully oversee the work performed by subcontractors may be in a better position to respond to or mitigate the losses caused by a construction defect claim. Holding subcontractors responsible for expensive mistakes can potentially defray the losses a company incurs when a client files a lawsuit.