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The difference between latent and patent construction defects

On Behalf of | Dec 14, 2023 | Construction Defense

Construction companies will sometimes face litigation over alleged defects. A homeowner will allege that the workmanship is not of a high enough quality and that the issues need to be rectified – or they refuse to pay for the project. This can lead to disputes when general contractors or construction company owners claim that there are no defects or significant issues with the property.

Part of the issue here is that there can be multiple types of construction defects. Often, they fit into two broad categories of latent defects and patent defects. Let’s look at how these are different.

Patent defects

Something that is immediately observable is often a patent defect. Maybe the homeowner tried to turn on the kitchen lights in their brand new home, only to find out that they don’t work or they weren’t installed. Maybe the homeowner wanted granite countertops but walked into their new kitchen to find that they are made of butcher block or Formica. Patent defects can also include things that a home inspector would find immediately upon carrying out an initial inspection after the job ends.

Latent defects

On the other hand, a latent defect is something that is typically hidden from immediate observation. It may only become obvious later. An example of this could be if plumbing was done incorrectly so that there’s a slow leak in some of the pipes. It could take months or even years for water damage to show up so that the homeowner knows that there is a defect.

But these cases can get especially complex. Is it really a latent defect, or is it just the result of wear and tear over time? After all, everything breaks down given enough time, and homes are no different – even when they’re constructed correctly. As such, defect allegations often lead to disputes, and contractors and construction company owners must understand all of their legal options.