There are two different types of defects in construction defect law: design defects and construction defects. A design defect is an inherent failure of the design of a structure. A construction defect is a failure to adhere to the approved design of the structure. The classification of the defect usually determines which party or parties are at fault for the defect.
In addition to those types of defects, we can also assist with claims for defective work involving contractors you hire for remodeling or maintenance. Examples include roofers, siding contractors, concrete contractors, and painters. Even though such contractors may not have built your house, they're just as responsible for doing their work right as any builder or architect.
A poorly designed structure may not be safe or may have issues that require money and time to fix. Common examples of design defects in a structure are its architectural design or the design of important internal systems, such as electrical or HVAC. The person who created the design and the person responsible for installation may be responsible for money damages if there are any issues with the design or installation.
Common construction defects include foundation problems (basement flooding, cracks in walls, insufficient drainage), improper electrical wiring, improper shingling, weatherproofing failures, improper window installation, improper excavation, leaking roofs, improper or insufficient insulation, and improper siding installation. We have extensive experience working in all facets of construction defect litigation. We frequently will assert claims not only against the builder or general contractor, but also any responsible subcontractors or product manufacturer.
Fixing construction defects can be very expensive and time consuming. All parties to a construction project must live up to their part of the agreement. This means the designers, architects, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, product manufacturers, builders, and developers involved could all potentially be at fault. Whichever party is responsible for the defect is liable for either the "cost to cure" the defect or the reduced value of the property because of the defect, depending on the situation. The guilty party can also be held responsible for the loss of use of the property, any temporary housing costs, and personal injuries caused by the defect. If the actions of the guilty party are deemed to be reckless and intentional, punitive damages can also be recovered.
For additional information about damages for defective construction or design, please take a look at these posts from our blog:
Our Des Moines law firm can also assist with mechanic's lien issues. Mechanic's lien cases often arise when a contractor or subcontractor is accused of performing substandard work and the building owner or homeowner refuses to pay some or all of the invoice because of dissatisfaction with the work. In that situation, the contractor or subcontractor may assert a mechanic's lien against the property.
If the parties are unable to work out an arrangement to the payment dispute, the contractor or subcontractor may try to foreclose on the lien and have the property sold at a judicial sale to satisfy the due and unpaid invoice. That's often when the issue of the quality of the work done by contractor or subcontractor comes into play. The judge may refuse to give the contractor or subcontractor some or all of the money owed if the work was of poor quality.
A property owner faced with a mechanic's lien may make a demand that the contractor or subcontractor remove the lien or take action on it within a certain time period. If the contractor or subcontractor fails to take action on the lien after receiving demand to do so, the lien is forfeited and the contractor or subcontractor will have to resort to other legal claims to try to recover the money owed. This is a good tool for use for property owners that don't want a contractor or subcontractor holding their property hostage with a mechanic's lien.
In certain circumstances, the successful party in a mechanic's lien case may recover, in addition to any money damages ordered, attorney fees and litigation expenses. But it's recommended that the parties try to work things out without resorting to court action because judges often give neither everything that's requested, thus leaving neither party very happy once court proceedings are concluded.
If you do find yourself dealing with a mechanic's lien, please note that Iowa law includes a fairly complex set of rules for mechanic's liens that covers mechanic's liens from their initial filing all the way through a court judgment. There are several procedural steps that a contractor or subcontractor must follow in order to have a valid and enforceable lien. Those procedural steps and the potential court remedies can change depending upon the situation and what role the party bringing the mechanic's lien had in the underlying construction project. We have previously navigated mechanic's lien cases from the filing of the mechanic's lien to court action and can use our past experience in mechanic's lien cases to help protect your rights.
For additional information about mechanic's liens, please take a look at these posts from our blog:
Our Des Moines law firm has argued construction defect cases to juries and appellate courts, including the 2008 Iowa Supreme Court case of Speight v. Walters Development Company. Our cases have included commercial development, single residential homes, and townhomes and condominiums. Original construction, design issues, water intrusion, siding issues, roofing issues, foundation issues, windows issues, concrete issues, painting issues, we've handled them all and then some. We have expert witnesses ready to go. We know how to put together a construction defect case and will be ready to assist from day one.
If you're confronted with a situation involving defective construction or design or a mechanic's lien, please take a moment to learn about your rights by reviewing the information provided on this site. We also offer additional, more specific information about various topics at our on-site and off-site blogs that we hope you'll find helpful. If, after reviewing this information, you'd like to speak with us about your defective construction or design or mechanic's lien case, please reach out to us through the Web Contact Form by using the "Contact Us" button or by calling (515) 281-1460. We make every effort to provide a same-day response to all communications received during weekday business hours. Initial telephone calls are always free. If it looks like we can help, it'll be our pleasure to meet with you, learn more about your situation, and lend you a hand. We handle as many of our cases as possible on a contingent fee basis, meaning that there's no fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.
Erbe Law Firm
2501 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50312
Erbe Law Firm has proudly served clients throughout Iowa since 2005 from our Des Moines offices. We look forward to hearing from you to see whether we can do the same for you.
Harley C. Erbe