Construction Defects: When Are Construction Operations Liable?

Construction projects of any kind go through a lot of red tape just to get the first shovel’s-worth of dirt out from the ground. From zoning to planning, dealing with local government to working with contractors and architects, even a seemingly simple project isn’t that simple. So, it’s easy to understand that there’s a lot of care that goes behind every construction project. But even the most careful and prepared of projects can have their hiccups.

When something goes wrong on a job site, that’s a mess in and of itself. But when something happens after the job is done, causing harm to someone somehow, this creates an even bigger problem. There are two basic types of construction defects: those that occur during the design and those that occur during the building phase. Let’s take a look at who ends up taking on some or all of the blame depending on the kind of defect.

The Blame Game

As mentioned above, there are plenty of steps and time that passes when putting together any kind of construction project. From the wiring to the plumbing to the certain pitches of parts of the roof being installed, everything is carefully detailed. But, in general, if a construction defect ends up harming someone, an architect or engineer is usually responsible for defects in the design of a project.

A builder, like a contractor or subcontractor, is usually responsible for defects caused by a failure to conduct work according to design specifications. These kinds of defects can necessitate extra costly work to repair the problem in question, cause major injuries to construction workers or even cause major injuries to future occupants who don’t know any better.


When liability is passed along through contracts it is done with indemnification provisions. If a subcontractor indemnifies a contractor for liabilities, it means that the subcontractor is guaranteeing that if the contractor is sued for something later on down the road, the subcontractor will pay for any judgement that are brought against a contractor. With this in mind, subcontractors typically carry insurance policies, like property and casualty insurance that third-party insurance agents can help with, protecting them from liability defects.

Legal Concepts in Construction Defects

After the dust settles, legal cases will take place and those who are hurt will pursue what they can against a construction company or architect. The law of construction defects is mostly based on contract. There are so many legal contracts that flood a project, even small projects. Architects and building owners go over contracts in terms of design; architects work with engineers on contracts to review drawings for compliance; owners go into contract with general contractors to implement plans, and so on and so forth.

Every single contract that is legally binding will have provisions indicating which party will be held responsible for types of defects. It’s critical for all parties to pay close attention to detail to the liability provisions. At the end of it all, an owner will require the general contractor to accept responsibility for defects.

Regardless of the project or injury, having a type of liability locked in will help keep everything legally squared away to protect against costly fees. From twisted ankles to broken bones, construction projects pose many different risks and having insurance in place will add the right layer of security needed by all.

About Genesee General

At Genesee, we strive to provide quality insurance solutions for the Commercial E & S sector. Our longstanding expertise has allowed us to successfully serve your clients for over three decades. Our specialized products include coverages for Transportation, Garage, P & C, Professional, Brokerage Property, Specialty Programs and many more. For more information about our products, we invite you to contact us today at (800) 282-8755.