A construction defect describes any kind of structural fault or failure that impairs the property owner’s ability to use the building. Defects can occur at any stage of the building process, from initial site evaluation to project completion. Fortunately, all of these problems can be mitigated or avoided entirely through diligent observation and quality control assessments at every stage of the construction.

Common Structural Faults, and How to Avoid Them

Faulty Door and Window Seals

Most commercial buildings have hundreds of doors and windows, so it’s not surprising that material and installation failures are common. Each frame should be inspected prior to installation and sealed with a compound compatible with the material. Faulty doors and windows are more likely to leak and may be difficult to open or close

Subsurface Moisture Incursion

The persistent growth of mold or mildew on the lower levels of the building may be due to water vapor leaching through the foundation. Concrete and other foundation materials should be properly sealed to prevent this, as it also helps mitigate the long-term corrosive effects on the building material.

Roofing Failures

There are many ways roofs can fail, so it typically takes a professional investigation to determine the root of the problem. Material failures are a common issue, especially if it’s exposed to extreme temperature or weather conditions. Builders need to take extra steps to check and consult on roofing issues frequently to ensure it’s installed correctly.

Foundation Displacement

Cracks and vertical shifts in the foundation are a scary development for any site owner. In most cases, this kind of foundation damage is a result of improperly treated soil or oversights in the initial site evaluation. There are some options for mitigating the damage post-construction, but the best way to prevent displacement is to conduct accurate and thorough site investigations.

Structural Misalignment

Not all structural shifts and misalignment are due to a foundation defect. There are hundreds of components that make up the load-bearing structure of the building, so any material or installation fault can have visible consequences.

Power Problems

Any anomalies in the electrical system are a source for concern, as they could indicate more serious problems and a potential fire hazard. Faults in wires and electrical components can result from many sources, including moisture incursion, structural faults or consistent circuit overloading.

Fire Safety Shortfalls

Many new buildings actually fall short of all the relevant fire safety codes. That’s why builders should consult a fire code expert who understands national, state and local regulations.

Inefficient Climate Control

Building owners can waste thousands of dollars a year on heating and cooling costs due to poor insulation. Builders can address this by taking the time to accurately calculate insulation needs and quality check the installation.

Plumbing Leaks

Leaky pipes aren’t fun for anyone, and they can also cause serious damage to the structure and the property inside. Material failures are a common issue for plumbing systems due to the sheer number of components involved. Maintenance and unrelated structural flaws can also damage pipes and fixtures.

Poor Drainage

Pools of water collecting outside the building on every rainy day is a bad sign. Not only does this damage the landscape, it saturates the soil and can damage the foundation of the building. Good drainage is a result of integrating roofing, gutter systems and ground-level distribution from the design phase onward.

Avoid Defects and Build With Confidence

Almost all of the most common construction defects can be prevented with proper inspections, which is why construction materials testing is fundamental to due diligence. As leaders in the field of environmental and infrastructure engineering, ATC personnel appreciates the long-term value of thorough assessments and consistent quality checks.

Going the extra mile may take a little more effort, but it ultimately reduces risks and minimizes the chances of structural defects emerging after construction. We look forward to the opportunity to help each client overcome challenges, minimize risk and seize opportunities throughout the building process. Contact ATC today!