In Help! My New House Is Falling Down, architect Peter Lattey writes that uncovering construction defects requires an expert to discover the cause of damage.
A homeowner walks into your office and says "My new house is falling apart and I want to sue the bum that built it."
As a smart lawyer, you quickly decide that this may be your next money making case and you decide to find out what the case is all about. Being a prudent person, you do a bit of research before you take on the case. Just as an emergency room doctor does a triage on new cases to decide how each new patient is to be treated, a smart lawyer needs to do the same on new construction defect cases.
This is a story about what happens next.
You should start by asking the homeowner a few initial questions to determine what the contractual basis of the case is.
• What sorts of problems are there with the house?
• Is there a written contract between the owner and the builder?
• Is the builder licensed?
• Does the contractor have insurance?
• Who drew the plans? Do they have insurance?
• Was there a building permit issued?
• Who took out the permit from city hall?
Chances are Mr. or Ms. Homeowner won't know the answers to all of these questions but the questions will give you an idea of what is going on. You can then make a note of what documents you will need from the homeowner at your next meeting.
Lattey, principal of Peter Lattey, Archtects, has served as an expert witness regarding construction defects, fire & explosion, building products defects, construction costs and construction scheduling.
More information: www.peterlattey.com.