Can Home Builders be Sued Over Moisture in Basements?

 

Mold on WallsThe answer to this question is easy. Yes, builders absolutely can be sued over moisture in basements they built. Architects, contractors and sellers can also be sued over moisture damage. In a real estate law question-and-answer session, Criminal Defense Attorney, David Alan Zipp, explains that consumers are well within their rights to bring suit against a builder to force repairs whether a building is under warranty or not.

The best way for builders, architects and other construction industry professionals to avoid lawsuits for basement moisture is impeccable planning and building with first-class below grade moisture barriers. Bear in mind that a basement doesn’t have to flood for a buyer to sue. Musty, moldy and always-damp basements can be irritating enough to trigger a lawsuit.

Evidence of basement moisture issues include foundation cracks, and discolored and swollen basement walls. InspectPros explains that lack of proper moisture barriers is a common cause of basement moisture damage. Trapped air conditioning and heating condensation is another common cause of damp basements. Basements with laundry facilities are especially prone to moisture damage and should be designed and moisture-proofed with care. To ensure that new structures are adequately protected against moisture, designers and building teams trust foundation drainage products and wall waterproofing membranes from Cosella-Dörken.

To reiterate, home builders are not the only persons who can be held liable for wet basements. Any contractor who works on a new construction project can be sued over moisture in basements. So can the building inspector, and so can the attorney who facilitated contract closing. Civil action may be brought against defendants for poor design, poor workmanship and shoddy materials, but those are not the only reasons a home builder may be sued. Nondisclosure and misrepresentation are also serious breaches in the eyes of the law.

Even if an unhappy buyer does not file a formal lawsuit against a home builder, contractor or architect, they can still seek legal redress by way of mediation and small claims court. If you don’t think those smaller actions can cost you a bundle, think again.

In some cases, a buyer can tap into their homeowner’s insurance to mitigate water damages. In most cases, they will not do so, if filing a claim will lead to an increase of their rates. If and when a buyer is displeased with a wet basement, and they believe they can come after you for monetary compensation, they will. Basement moisture issues may escalate into environmental claims, especially if an occupant suffers damages because of standing water, mold or mildew. Protect yourself before the fact by always designing and building with moisture barrier systems of the utmost quality.

As an architect or builder, it is not only right that you design and build with care; it’s also in your own best interest. In the American Bar Association publication “Environmental Aspects of Real Estate Transactions,” author James Witkin explains that many unhappy building buyers carry insurance policies with severely restricted mold coverage. Some insurance policies now disallow mold claims completely. When faced with a situation such as this, a disgruntled buyer is apt to sue anyone they can, and that includes you, the architect, contractor or home builder.

Protect yourself and your good reputation by designing right in the first place, and always specify high performance moisture barrier products for your projects. You could save yourself multiple thousands of dollars that might otherwise go to pay for lawsuits.

When you’re ready to know more about home builders sued over moisture in basements, contact us without delay. Let’s discuss the many ways that DELTA® foundation protection systems can save your money and your reputation.

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Cosella-Dörken delivers innovative, high-performance air and moisture barriers for commercial and residential construction sold under the DELTA® brand name. A North American manufacturer based out of Beamsville, Ontario, Cosella-Dörken Products, Inc. is a subsidiary of Ewald Dörken AG, a leading European developer and manufacturer of waterproofing and drainage products sold worldwide. Cosella-Dörken is known for delivering premium products while providing educational programs and full technical support. For more information, call 1-888-4DELTA4 (433-5824) or visit www.cosella-dorken.com.