Construction Defects
Construction Defects

Discovering Construction Defects: 5 Common Types and Quantification Methods


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One of the most challenging tasks when monitoring construction projects is to quantify defects. Defects are typically confused with delays and damages, which make the quantification even more difficult. Construction defects might be common, yet several dangerous defects could damage certain people and any properties.

Regardless of whether the defects are minor or major, numerous problems have remained. Thus, it is essential to know every single detail about construction defects to solve issues and, most importantly, to avoid any form of damages. This blog will shed light on the top 3 construction defects, especially each of the quantifying methods. Keep exploring and reading to get outermost knowledge.

What are Construction Defects?

This is a fundamental question, yet the answers for it are quite complicated. Generally, defects in the construction refer to the insufficiency in the construction process – be that in workmanship, design, or materials. It leads to a failure in some essential aspects of a particular structure being built. With that being said, it causes damages to the property or the person (financial or otherwise). 

In other words, a construction defect includes all three states listed below:

· A deficiency within the construction process results from poor materials, designs, and workmanship

· The deficiency should lead to a failure in the structures built during the project.

· Lastly, the failure should cause damage to the property or person.

In some cases, a defect may be as basic as falling short of the owner’s expectations. Yet, sometimes it can be as serious as structural defects in the property. Evidently, a construction defect and a fallout might greatly depend on the severity and the sources of issues at hand. Everyone involved in the project is very much responsible for reducing construction defects. There have been several proactive measures being used today that effectively reduce the chance of encountering one. See below.

·        A comprehensive review of policy coverage and contract terms

For all project stakeholders (contractors, subs, suppliers, designers, etc.), the construction contracts must assign accountability and validate that all involved workers are responsible for their job. A clear understanding of the liability coverage has helped to reduce one’s exposure to defect claims.

·        The implementation of quality control programs

All project participants should form a quality assurance group. It only means that every single one involved in the project is greatly accountable for preventing these defects. A collaborative effort is expected to be offered by the participating teams. 

·        To act quickly

Performing a walk-through is the best way to do if a defect is discovered. Next, identify the issue and show it to the contractors, the owners, or the entire management team as soon as possible. Afterward, deciding how to continue and progress most cost-effectively will come next. 

5 Main Types of Construction Defects

After determining the type of construction defects, they will be generally classified as either latent or patent. Patent defects refer to the already known or apparent issues during inspections. These are the ones that a project manager, contractors, subs, and other trades must find in every inspection. By simply using construction crew management, defects are easier to discover, and inspections can be done meticulously.

On the other hand, latent effects are those that are usually concealed or not readily observable otherwise. Surprisingly, this type of defect can be hard to find by someone who inspects the entire work and process meticulously. Moreover, patent defects tend to be obvious, which only means there’s a quick and easy solution ready for it. This type of defect is shallow or surface-level and often merely aesthetic. Therefore, repairing and accessing these issues is not that invasive. So, since latent defects aren’t too obvious, it only means that they’re under the surface area. As a significant result, latent defects are a bit more tricky and challenging to solve.

So let’s now break down the main five types of construction defects:

1. Design Defects

These are the defects that have been resulted from a designer’s failure to provide well-organized and accurate construction documents. Using construction crew scheduling software, designers can achieve well-prepared construction documents. Not only can designers benefit from the application, but also the other members involved. Overall, real-time collaboration is greatly achieved because of this software.

Design defects often occur by omissions or errors. The errors found will generally require some of the replacements and redesigning of a few component parts. Omissions can possibly be alleviated by adding to the scope of work with change orders. The contractors are tasked to simplify each process and make sure to sort out every single thing. Also, constant communication in the construction team leads to stronger collaboration.

One of the many things to be aware of is the design of the buildings. The building designs have a direct effect on how the buildings will be built. If an architect is designing the buildings poorly, the construction team will be working with improper designs. As a result, real problems occur. To solve it, the design itself should be up to code and adhere to specific regulations to ensure proper building and safety.

2. Material Defects

Material defects arise due to inadequate and damaged building materials. When the found defects are the manufacturer’s fault, the parties that have used the materials are not aware of the defects until they are already incorporated in the construction projects. As a result, it only makes the material defect very costly because the whole project will now be requiring new materials and additional laborers.

It is vital to have the building materials tested before being utilized in any buildings. It should also undergo a step-by-step process of reviews and tests conducted by professional committees and independent testing laboratories.

3. Workmanship Defects

The simplest definition for workmanship is “the level of skill wherein a project is done, or a product is made”. Other definitions for workmanship might include skillfulness, craftsmanship, expertise, and artistry. Workmanship defects are usually what come first when speaking about construction defects. According to the construction documents, this type of defect often occurs whenever contractors have failed to build a part or structure. To prevent failures, contractors can use construction crew management to better monitor the project and the participating crew members.

Moreover, these defects can range from basic aesthetic issues to operational integrity problems. Determining who failed and allocating liability to adhere to the property standard of care can be tricky for anyone involved.

4. Subsurface Defects

One of the necessary things for a solid structure is a solid foundation. A construction defect might occur if the subsurface underneath the foundation is not sufficiently prepared and if the foundation is not properly built. If the subsurface is not appropriately readied and compacted for the foundation, the structure’s foundation might experience subsidence, shifting, cracking, and other serious problems.

5. Operational and Maintenance Deficiencies

Owners often have a failure in using and maintaining the system and structure properly. If the exterior sealant is not maintained correctly, it might cause it to break down, letting water in. That is why it is imperative to keep everything put into the proper place. When managing construction projects, contractors have to ensure the state of the project and its ongoing development.

That is why it is equally important to use some of the best software solutions for project management today. Using such technologies can guarantee a more well-defined work scope, continuous progress, and earlier project completion.

Two Methods of Quantification for Construction Defects 

Quantification and resolution of construction defects are one of the most complex tasks to solve. In most cases, defects become visible when the project is finally completed or already in the last stages. It results in more increasing damages. The participating parties usually point a finger to one another, blaming endlessly and have missed the point of finding any possible solutions.

Here are the two most important methods used to quantify defects when dealing with construction projects:

1. Fault-tree construction

One of the most used quantification methods for construction defects across the entire industry is fault-tree construction methods. It is a little tricky because it necessarily requires the insights and skills of the experts. It is a method based on the application of the deductive approach.

There are project leaders who derive a direct conclusion from all apparent defects in each construction project. With that being said, they will be going to use a deductive analysis approach and sort any potential issues. This particular method has helped project managers, contractors, and subs use probability in any possible events to quickly determine the primary causes.

2. Risk Importance Measures

The second most used method in defect quantification is the measure of risk importance. This type of approach is commonly used in the construction defects that become apparent and have determined right after completing a construction project.

Risk importance is considered a technical approach that solely focuses on quantification, involved costs, and additional risks. This approach is best applied in the process of resolving defects. Using such an approach, the project leaders can focus on the found defects, including the risks associated with these issues, and then quantify it for any involved parties.

Key Takeaways

Construction defects can turn a project upside down so quickly, and with several parties involved while working on the project, it still can be difficult to determine. All workers involved in the project, starting from the design team to the construction team, should do their respective parts to prevent the rising of defects. Communication, quality control programs, and documentation are the simplest yet effective ways to reduce defective works.

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