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Latent vs. patent construction defect claims

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Construction Law

As a contractor or owner of a construction company in Florida, you are likely aware of the risks of facing construction defect claims. Not all defects are the same and it is critical to understand the different kinds of defects in order to better understand what you could be up against should a dispute arise.

One important distinction is patent defects versus latent defects. How are these different?

A patent defect is easily noticeable

With a patent defect, it does not take an in-depth inspection to find the issue. It should fairly obvious to anyone involved in the project that something is off.

An example of this could be if the client asked you to install a certain type of cabinets but the wrong ones were installed. As soon as they enter the new building, they will be able to plainly see that the directions or terms of the contract have not been followed.

A latent defect is hidden

With a latent defect, the issue is hidden and may not become clear for days, months or even years, even upon an inspection. This can make these situations a bit more complicated because there may be disagreements regarding who caused the defect and when it occurred.

An example of a latent defect is an electrical system that had not been wired properly. If the connections are loose, they may immediately work, but the system could stop working in the future when the wires lose the necessary connection. Latent defects in some cases can become dangerous if problems are created that remain unseen or undiagnosed for long periods of time.

Defending your company’s future and reputation

Construction defect claims can have high stakes and the future of your business may be called into question. Seeking legal guidance as early as possible when you face a patent or latent defect claim is important to develop a sound legal strategy.