Water damage from leaks: lawsuits in construction guide, Online property advice

Water Damage from Leaks Create Construction Lawsuits

10 Jan 2022

Water damage from leaks: construction lawsuits

Water Damage from Leaks Accounts for 70 Percent of Lawsuits in Construction

Water leaks can occur from poor installation of numerous aspects of a building. Construction workers and improper installation can be responsible for a number of causes of water damage including leaking roofs, faulty pipes, land grading, and more. However, the architects may also be responsible for damages due to water if they are not careful. A poorly designed building may come back to haunt the architect in the end.

The most important part of the design of a building is the roof, when speaking about providing shelter for its occupants. The purpose of a building is to keep the people out of the elements.  This assumes that the precipitation will stay outside and the people inside will stay dry. About 60-70 percent of the time, the leaking roof will be due to improper installation.  Perhaps 10 percent of water damage litigation cases are due faulty material. The remaining 20-30 percent of the time, water damage is caused by flawed roof design by the architect.

In order to prevent liability for your building design, as an architect, you should make sure that your roof is designed in 3D. When it comes to roofing details, many architects forget their three-dimensional thinking.  Typically, in a building design, sections of it are designed independent of other sections. They are looked at as a separate piece and are often not formally put together with a plan for how the roofing will be incorporated. In many cases, the sections of the design will be passed off to the general contractor as is and the roof is left for the roofing contractor to figure out.

When you leave such an important detail to the roofing contractor, they likely will not have a skilled architect fill in the gaps. The job is set to be built with holes in the plans. The construction workers begin building the roof and are left to solve unexpected problems on the  fly that they do not have the education to solve. 

The result is a building that will have a faulty, and perhaps leaky, roof system because the solution from the construction worker was to use roofing cement and caulk to patch the sections of the building together. These types of materials usually do not have as much durability as the proper materials and are just a disaster waiting to happen. When water damage happens, lawyers get involved. They will wind up at the door of the architect seeking judgement for a flaw in the design of the building.

The costs of such a mistake can vary depending on your location, but water damage restoration in Las Vegas costs almost $20/SQFT, for example.  This can be a hefty fee to pay for large buildings, not to mention litigation expenses and loss of income reimbursement. So, architects should avoid getting themselves into an expensive water damage litigation mess in the first place by properly designing their buildings. Don’t take the lazy way out by passing an unfinished design off to a general contractor. Exercise caution when designing the roofing structure.  Make sure all sections of the building are formally put together and incorporated under the roof design.

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