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6/11/2012 | Construction Blog

Television has glamorized contractor criticism of late. Often times, a rip-out and rebuild is recommended when it is unnecessary. This type of sensationalism makes for good TV, but the suggestion that a home with a construction defect be completely ripped apart, requiring complete re-construction, is often not a smart move legally.

In Pennsylvania, one measure of damages for defective construction is the difference between the market value of the house as constructed and the market value of the house if constructed per the contract without defect. If it is reasonable to cure a construction defect by repair and the cost of repair does not exceed the difference in the market value, the cost of repair may be an appropriate measure of damages.

Essentially, this measure of damages prevents a homeowner from engaging in “economic waste.” A homeowner cannot just rip out all the completed work and sue for a windfall to cover the cost of repair. There is an economic value to every defect that is rarely the cost of a complete rip-out and replace.

Homeowners have a duty to act reasonably and to mitigate damages. Courts in Pennsylvania will not be eager to award damages, however, if economic waste can be shown. Whether your house gets on TV or you end up doing the repair yourself, don’t assume you can get every dime you spend if you choose to rip out a contractor’s work and start from the beginning again.