Building defects case law

All manner of disputes and disagreements can arise out of defective work. The most basic question will be whether a defect actually exists. Sometimes the answer is obvious, but where the specification for work is more complex, it may be a matter of technical judgment as to whether the work carried out is 'defective'. While the parties may be more concerned with defects they can see, often difficult problems arise out of the defects not immediately observable.

Where the relationship of the parties is governed by a contract, it is usually this that underlies what, in any given situation, may constitute 'defective work'. However, in modern building practice the contract is also important in providing a mechanism for dealing with defects, either as they arise during the construction project or after the conclusion of the work.

With a strong focus on relevant case law, this section covers:

  • what patent and latent defects are;
  • rights and obligations under defective liability clauses;
  • how defects can affect practical and substantial completion;
  • the Defective Premises Act 1972;
  • the implications of defects for surveyors and valuers;
  • when a defect may, or may not, give rise to a cause of action in tort;
  • legal concepts such as ‘temporary disconformity’ and ‘complex structure theory’; and
  • relevant limitation periods and the implications of the Latent Damage Act 1986.

This section is maintained by Martino Giaquinto of Mills & Reeve LLP.