Remedies In Construction Defect Cases

There are two main components to a construction defect case.  First, you have to prove that the builder or contractor is liable.  Second, you have to prove your damages.  The second component, damages, is often overlooked as an area that needs attention in construction defect cases.  Proving liability against the builder or contractor is great, but doesn’t do much good if you haven’t properly prepared your damages case.

Damages in defective construction cases may include diminution in value, cost of construction or completion as required under the contract, or loss of rentals.  As a general rule, the cost of correcting the defects or completing the omissions is the proper measure. Costs are limited, however, by the concept of economic waste. If the defects can be corrected only at a cost grossly disproportionate to the result or benefit obtained by the owner, or if correcting the defect would involve unreasonable destruction of the builder’s work, the proper measure of damage is the reduced value of the building.  The diminution in value is the difference between the value of the building if the contract had been fully performed and the value of the performance actually received.

In addition to these principles, you also have a duty to “mitigate” (try to reduce) your construction defect damages.  You can’t necessarily allow a construction defect to fester, thus creating even more problems, and then expect the builder/contractor to pay for everything.  Iowa law requires you to take steps to minimize any further damages beyond the initial defective construction.  So, for example, if a roofing contractor does a bad job and leaves you with a leaky roof, you need to get that roof fixed and not allow it to cause damage to the interior of your house because there’s a possibility that the roofing contractor won’t be liable for that extra damage.


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