Settling Construction Defect Cases – Arbitration or Court?

Construction defects can damage any type of property, single family homes, commercial buildings, or condominium projects. Typically when a defect is discovered, a homeowner looks to the builder for repairs and compensation if appropriate. If there is a dispute it’s usually a one-on-one situation, owner vs. builder. If a condominium project or other multi-unit development has defect issues, then any number of homeowners may form a group to remedy defects and seek monetary .

A common problem with the multi-owner scenario is that there is often an owners association involved, and with that come by-laws that may restrict the rights of victims. Many association rules specify that disputes over construction defects will be decided by binding arbitration and, believe it or not, the rules may have been written by the builder! The builder may even name who the arbitrator is to be in defect disputes. Some builders actually write the rules so they control the association, sometimes for many years.

Construction Defect Expert WitnessThe Colorado Supreme Court recently ruled that a homeowner association was wrong for suing a builder because their own by-laws said they must use arbitration.

What does this mean in other states?

Every state has different laws concerning civil disputes, and while most people don’t have the time to research the statutes concerning construction defects, they can and should take the time to read their association by-laws carefully and see what they have to say about construction defect dispute resolution.

If you are a homeowner, association, or builder it’s very important to have the facts first before moving forward with any construction defect dispute resolution process. In most cases the appropriate person to investigate what went wrong during the construction process is a professional engineer. If indeed the defect exists, it is important to know if the architect, contractor, manufacturer of materials, or engineer made a mistake.

A professional engineer who has been accepted as an expert witness is the ideal individual to have on your side going into any dispute because either an arbitrator, judge, or jury will decide who is at fault and what, if any, compensation for damages is appropriate.

Justin Hall P.E. has been involved in construction defect cases for many years, conducting investigations, preparing reports, and giving clear and compelling testimony. To reach Justin call 501-436-0091