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Several issues can lead to construction litigation

7/3/2016 | Real Estate Blog

Building projects in Pennsylvania and elsewhere can experience a host of problems and issues. Weather delays and problems in the supply chain can bring a construction project to a halt. While these may be out of the control of the contractor or developer, sometimes problems with the project stem from the developers and/or contractors themselves. Those responsible for building or remodeling a structure have a legal obligation to fulfill the terms of the contract and to ensure that the construction is free from defects. Otherwise, that developer or contractor may be held liable for damages through construction litigation.

The law requires that developers and contractors exercise a reasonable degree of care when performing their professional duties. Implicit in this duty of care is the notion that construction professionals have the knowledge and skills necessary to complete the project properly, including any necessary inspections. If any defects occur, the contractor or developer may be found negligent of this duty of care and liable for any resulting damages or injuries. Related to this is the concept of strict liability, which does not require the plaintiff to prove negligence, per se, but the plaintiff does have to prove that the defendant caused the defect, which then led to damages.

Aside from defective construction, other ways that developers and contractors can get into legal trouble are through either a breach of contract, a breach of warranty or out-right fraud. When contracts are drafted, the developer or contractor must adhere to the terms. Similarly, the final structure should be in good and proper condition for its proposed purpose. If a breach of either of these two theories occurs, then the builder will have to make amends. Fraud occurs when the developer willfully misrepresents certain facts and claims or never intended to follow the plans or contract as promised.

Regardless of the type of issue that arises during a construction project, any legal claim against a developer or contractor can have serious consequences. Conversely, anyone who contracts with a builder has a right to receive a product delivered as promised and free from defects. Parties in Pennsylvania who feel they need representation involving construction litigation should consult with an experienced real estate law attorney.