Stein, Sudweeks & Stein
Seattle Insurance Recovery & Construction Defect Lawyers
Common Construction Defects
Exterior cladding is the material on exterior walls that protects the walls from the weather. Examples of cladding systems are siding, panels, brick, board and batten or stucco. No cladding system is 100% effective at preventing water intrusion. As a result, all such systems are designed with a second layer of protection against water intrusion. This secondary weather resistive barrier normally consists of building paper and flashing integrated together to channel water to a safe exit point such as the bottom of the wall. It is very common to find mistakes in the integration of flashing and building paper that direct water behind the building paper, which over time damages the sheathing and framing in the exterior walls.
Some windows are defective because of manufacturing errors. It is far more common, however, to find errors in the installation of windows. The most common error is improper integration of window flashing with the surrounding building paper.
As with windows, doors are sometimes improperly installed such that the flashing system improperly allows water intrusion behind the flashing and building paper. In addition, some builders fail to install a drainage pan beneath doors to ensure that wind-driven rain cannot intrude at the base of doors.
Common errors include failure to install adequate ventilation, using nails that are too small, using nails that corrode and deteriorate over time, failure to install flashing at areas where roofs meet exterior walls, and failure to protect the entire roof with felt underlayment before installing shingles or other roofing material.
Decks and Balconies
We often find decks that are not adequately sloped to drain surface water. This causes pooling and deterioration of the decking surface. We also find flashing errors where decks meet walls.
If native soil is moved in order to fill in low spots, then the areas of fill soil must be compacted before concrete is poured on top of the soil. Failure to adequately compact the soil causes concrete sidewalks, parking areas, porches, planter boxes, and garage slabs to sink over time.
Building codes may require fully sheathed walls to separate attic space between units in order to prevent fires from spreading between units. Builders often fail to install sheathing on such attic walls.
Inadequate draining, improper sloping, ponding, and inadequate ventilation can cause damage inside crawlspaces. An inadequate vapor barrier (normally a black plastic material) can lead to high humidity and mold inside condominium units.
Pipes supplying water to condominium units contain water under pressure. Leaks in supply pipes can cause major damage. Pipes and the fitting that join the pipes together can be made of copper, brass, and several types of plastic (CPVC and PEX being the most common). From 2000 through 2010, most of the fittings installed with PEX pipe included yellow brass fittings. Corrosion of these fittings may lead to leaks.
In larger condominium buildings with six or more floors, interior heating and ventilation systems are sometimes undersized, improperly balanced, and poorly designed.