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It took a new bill to define the term “construction defect”

Arizona is among several states that have passed new legislation to update construction defect laws that have been in use since the 1990s and 2000s.

The new Arizona law, House Bill 2578, became effective in the summer of 2015. The bill provides a definition of “construction defect” and seeks to reduce the number of lawsuits based on such issues.

The meaning of a construction defect

According to the new Arizona law, a construction defect refers to a material deficiency in a dwelling's:

  • Design
  • Construction
  • Manufacture
  • Repair
  • Alteration
  • Remodeling
  • Landscaping

The defect could be from a construction code violation; the use of defective products, materials components or equipment; or lack of following "generally accepted workmanship standards in the community.”

Based on “material deficiency”

The presence of a construction defect relies on a material deficiency. This is a deficiency that jeopardizes the structural integrity of a building or adversely affects either its functionality or appearance.

Construction professionals

The new law often refers to the “seller,” who is any person, company or organization that designs, constructs or sells dwellings. The term also includes “construction professionals,” such as architects, contractors, builders, developers, suppliers and others associated with the construction trade. All these people are subject to the provisions of the new Arizona law.

What could happen

Despite best efforts, a variety of problems could surface either during construction or afterward. For example, the foundation of a house could settle. There could be grading problems, drainage problems or an influx of water. Design defects and defective construction materials could endanger the integrity of the new residence.

Putting the new law to work

The goals of the previous laws were standardization of legal procedures and reduction of the number of claims against homebuilders. Contractors, architects and others associated with the building trade would rather work out an issue with the homeowner than go to court, but litigation is always a possibility. If an issue arises with respect to a construction defect, it is wise to explore all the legal options available.

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