Written by attorney David von Beck

Construction Defects in Condominiums (Condos)

Construction defects in condominium building pose unique problems. The individual units are owned separately, while the common areas, including the roof and exterior walls, are owned jointly by the homeowners association. If a ground floor owner discovers water damage in his or her unit, but the source is a leak that starts in the roof or an upstairs window, it is the homeowner's association that must take care of it. However, there may be multiple insurance policies that provide different coverages -- the HOA's policy, individual unit owner's policies, and, if the condominium was recently constructed or a conversion, the developer's and its subcontractor's policies.

It is important that a qualified expert be engaged early to investigate and documents the defects and ongoing damage, without causing additional damage to the buildings. Nearly every condominium built over the past ten years has been investigated for construction defects and/or water damage. Very few exhibited signs of damage before they were inspected, yet many of them proved to have extensive damage, including rot, decay, and mold.

Because statutes of limitations exist which limit the time in which to bring a lawsuit, and because many recent condominium developers have set up "single-asset" limited liability companies to try to shield themselves from liability when building or converting condominiums, it is important that the HOA and its board of directors, together with the property manager, act quickly and diligently to investigate and protect the building, and pursue any legal claims that may exist. Otherwise, unit owners could face huge assessments if substantial repairs are necessary and there is no legal remedy available.

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