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The difference between patent defects and latent defects

There are two main types of construction defects. The first is known as patent defects, and the second is latent defects. Both can cause serious issues within your home, but the way you approach them may be a bit different.

The difference is just in how clear they are. A patent defect is something that you can see easily and that really shouldn't make it through the inspection. Many aesthetic issues are patent defects. They aren't hidden at all. For instance, you notice that they primed a sheet of drywall and then forgot to paint it, or they install trim improperly around your doors and windows so that it's not square.

Many aesthetic issues, though they're easier to spot, are actually less problematic. Yes, you'll need to get the work fixed, but a poor painting job or ugly trim won't compromise the function of the home.

Latent defects are those that are hidden and not easy to observe. They could be far more serious, like issues with a foundation that is too thin or improper framing that means your load-bearing walls are not strong enough to hold up. Issues with in-home systems may also be hidden, such as having a bathroom vent fan that is supposed to vent out the ceiling but which is actually venting into the attic. This can lead to rot and decay in the attic, though you may not discover it for years.

No matter what type of construction issues you're facing, be sure you know all of the legal options you have and how best to proceed.

Source: MCS Magazine, "What is a Construction Defect?," accessed Jan. 11, 2018

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