Charleston Construction Defect Attorney

Can you sue for your home's construction defect or structural damage?
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Trust Ben Traywick Law With Your Construction Defect Claim

Ben Traywick Law, LLC offers experienced construction defect attorneys to address your home construction defects. We offer expertise for home defects in cases of structural damage, water damage, stormwater issues, careless installation, roofing errors, improperly installed brick and HVAC concerns.

Has a poor construction defect left your
home in need of repairs?

  • WATER AND TERMITE DAMAGE
  • DENIED WARRANTY CLAIMS
  • UNDELIVERED HOA AMENITIES
  • BUCKLED FLOORING
  • HVAC/PLUMBING/ELECTRICAL ISSUES

Can you sue for your home's construction defect or structural damage? Take this survey to find out how our construction attorneys can help

Construction Defects Lawsuits

Homebuilders in South Carolina are required to comply with building codes adopted by local governments (typically the International Building Code), with industry standards recognized within the construction trades (for instance: recommendations for masonry work published by the Brick Institute of America), and with installation instructions provided by the manufacturer of building products installed on a house (for instance: installation instructions for Hardiplank siding). 

Skilled construction defect attorney knows, a builder who fails to comply with these rules – either itself or through its subcontractors – can be liable to the homeowner under various legal theories: breach of contract, breach of warranty, negligence, and others.

Common Types of Construction Defects

WATER INTRUSION PROBLEMS

Improperly installed windows, roofing materials, and siding allow water to penetrate from the outside into the walls and interior surfaces of the house. Water is a building’s enemy. When it is allowed to intrude beyond the exterior building envelope, the results are rotten framing, termites, stained sheetrock, and mold. 

FLOODING CONCERNS

BTL has seen an increasing flow of calls from homeowners who are experiencing flooding problems: water ponds in the yard, ruining landscaping and lawns; the water eventually rises to the point that it enters the garage and the first floor of the house, soaking furniture, rugs and other property, and necessitating repairs to sheetrock, flooring, and other elements of the structure itself. 

CARELESS INSTALLATION

Careless installation methods by subcontractors frequently results in floors and siding buckling, warping, and becoming deformed. 

ROOFING FRAME ERRORS

Structural shortcomings are an alarming but common deficiency seen in Charleston and elsewhere in the Lowcountry. These problems frequently relate to roof framing errors, and to the failure to meet tie-down requirements in coastal areas which are subject to hurricanes. 

FAILURE TO PREPARE BUILDING SITE

Developers and their infrastructure contractors, responsible for clearing, grading and filling a development tract, and installing roads, water and sewers, fail to prepare the site properly. This results in lots and common areas that flood with water and will not drain, with a secondary result of lawns and trees being killed by the standing water. 

SHORELINE CONSTRUCTION MATTERS

Ben Traywick Law Firm has represented numerous homeowners in matters pertaining to design defects and failures of docks, seawalls, and other shoreline construction elements. 

HVAC SYSTEM ISSUES

It is no secret that builders and contractors often use lower-quality materials when they can get away with it. Indeed, this class of products is called “builder grade” or “contractor grade.” Among the most problematic of builder grade materials in frequent use, especially by the national and regional builders who have poured into the Charleston area over the last decade, is the HVAC system. Ben Traywick Law Firm has been involved in dozens of matters in which the system the builder installed is undersized to begin with or improperly installed, resulting in performance deficiencies, excessive humidity in the house, and the need to replace or repair the entire unit. 

IMPROPERLY INSTALLED BRICK

Brick used as the exterior cladding on a house, or as the veneer of a chimney, is a good, durable product when installed correctly. Unfortunately, brick is notorious for exhibiting installation errors, especially deficiencies in the weep holes and through-wall flashing, which is essential for allowing water behind the brick to escape to the outside rather than remaining within (and rotting) the wall system. 

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Understanding Construction Defects: How To Spot Home Damage & House Defects

While some construction defects are blatantly obvious, others can be more difficult to spot. Here at Ben Traywick Law, our experienced attorneys have outlined the most common types of construction damage, including the signs to watch out for.

Structural Damage

What is Structural Damage?

Structural damage is defined as any damage that compromises or affects your home’s integrity. This includes the foundation, walls, roof and load-bearing walls. When structural damage occurs, the structure itself may no longer be able to support the house, putting your family at risk.

Common Causes of Structural Damage

  • High winds
  • Windstorm and flooding
  • Water damage

Common Signs of Structural Damage

  • Cracks or bulging on walls and ceiling
  • Soil pulling away from house walls
  • Cracks in chimney
  • Uneven gaps on windows and doors
  • Sagging, sloping or cracking of floors
  • Sagging roof and roof leaks
  • Damp subfloor
  • Crumbling concrete/brick

Has a construction defect resulted in structural damage? Take this simple survey!

Chimney Damage

Common Cause of Chimney Damage

  • Obstruction (chimney blocked in some way)
  • Creosote
  • Brickwork problems
  • Damaged chimney crown and chimney cap
  • Cracks in the flue

Common Signs of Chimney Damage

  • Cracks
  • Leaking
  • Rooting Wood
  • Unbalanced/ Tilting
Has a chimney leak or damage impacted your home? Tell us more about your home’s construction defect here!

Window Leak

Common Causes for Window Leaks

  • Poor window installation and insulation
  • Intricate window layout with poor insulation
  • Damaged window sealant
  • Worn out glass seal
  • Poor flash installation
  • No paint seal

Common Signs of Window Leaks

  • Musty odor
  • Stains and discoloration
  • Peeling paint
  • Sagging drywall
  • Buckling floors/ loose tile
  • Rot and mold
  • Accumulating water
Not sure if you have a case? If a construction defect resulted in a window leak, we want to hear more! Get started with this quick survey!

Site Work

What is Site Work?
Site work refers to a construction site’s preparation. Site work is a vital part of the construction process, involving several precautionary and preventative measures. When performed properly, site work ensures a construction project’s safety and success. While specific steps may vary from project to project, a failure to follow site work protocol may result in the following:

Common Types of Site Work Defects

  • Failed job site prep, or site work, provides a solid foundation
  • Poor Cleaning
  • Inadequate Excavation
  • Failure to incorporate utilities
  • Poor Leveling
  • Poor Stabling

Cause of Sitework Issues

  • Lack of skilled workers
  • Poor communication
  • Unreliable subcontractors
  • Failure to adhere to regulations
If you suspect that site work issues caused a house defect, get in touch today!

Water Damage

Common Signs of Water Damage

  • Sounds of running water
  • Increase in utility bill
  • Damp, musty or moldy smell
  • Dark or wet spots
  • Cracking, bubbling, or flaking
  • Pooling water or puddles
Common Types of Water Damage
  • Floor damage
  • Roofing leaks
  • Ceiling leaks
  • Window leaks
Common Cause of Water Damage
  • Leaky roof
  • Condensation
  • Sewage cleanup
  • Structural damage
  • Broken pipes and gutter
Is your home’s water damage due to a construction defect? Take this simple survey!

WHAT CAUSES CONSTRUCTION DEFECT PROBLEMS?

    • For regional and national builders who build and sell a large volume of houses, the builder’s failure to adequately supervise subcontractors is a common underlying cause of construction failures.
    • Errors in flashing and other waterproofing measures for building exteriors are a major source of construction deficiencies and damage.
    • Improper installation of windows, siding, and roofing materials
    • Builder’s use of poor subcontractors and materials
    • Lack of proper planning for stormwater management

Generally speaking, an aggrieved homeowner can hold the homebuilder or general contractor responsible for the owner’s entire loss. Any subcontractor whose work was substandard shares the builder’s responsibility for loss caused by the subcontractor’s work. In certain types of cases – flooding claims are a good example – the evidence often points to design errors by the project engineer as a contributing cause of the property owner’s losses. 

Ask A Construction Attorney: Types of Construction Defect Cases We Handle

RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION

Our construction defect attorneys have represented dozens of homeowners across South Carolina in claims against the builder or developer of the homeowner’s property. We represent individual homeowners with unique problems, and also groups of homeowners within a particular neighborhood when houses up and down the street exhibit the same set of problems. 

MULTI-UNIT BUILDINGS

Ben Traywick Law Firm represents individual unit owners as well as Homeowners Associations and Horizontal Property Regimes in townhome, condominium, and single family communities, in claims against developers and builders. These claims include defective construction of common property (walls, roofs, amenities, etc) in addition to careless land development and site preparation (sidewalk deficiencies, drainage failures, flooding, etc). Traywick’s team of construction defect attorneys have the SC knowledge to address these matters. 

JOINT PLAINTIFF AND CLASS ACTION CLAIMS

Many modern builders use what amounts to an assembly line method for building residential communities: identical subcontractors utilizing identical materials, under identical supervision, producing more or less identical houses…which results in identical construction defects throughout neighborhoods. Oftentimes our firm represents groups of homeowners in these circumstances, which allows the group to share certain expenses and responsibilities and have a chance to make a more complete recovery than they might if they were to go it alone. 

What to Do If You Suspect Construction Defect Issues?

If you have experienced problems with your house – such as signs of water intrusion, evidence of leaking roof or windows, stormwater entering your home or garage, buckled siding or flooring – call our Charleston construction defect attorneys to discuss what you are seeing, what it means, and what your options are to secure your rights to a properly built home. Keep in mind that statutes of limitations put time limits on homeowners to pursue these claims. Accordingly, if you are concerned about builder or developer negligence, the thing to do is to call today to talk the matter over.

5 MOST COMMON NEW HOME BUYER & HOMEOWNER HOME DEFECT QUESTIONS

Our construction lawyers have compiled a list of commonly asked questions, using our extensive experience to provide the answers you need.

What Should I Do Next After Finding Severe Construction Defects In My Home?

If you notice a serious defect with your home’s construction, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Get a private home inspection.
    A professional will give you a better idea about the severity of the defect and the potential repairs involved. Your construction lawyer may even call upon the inspector’s expertise if you file a lawsuit.
  1. Check your builder’s warranty.
    Take a look at the relevant paperwork and contracts from your home builder to determine if any warranties apply.
  1. Send a certified letter to your builder.
    You are legally required to notify your builder in writing, detailing the construction defect in as much detail as possible. Note that the letter must be sent 60 days before you file a construction defect lawsuit.
  1. Accept or deny the settlement offer.
    Your builder has 45 days to make an offer. In some cases, the contractor offers to simply fix the defect – at their own expense or a reduced rate. In other instances, they may offer a monetary settlement. Once the formal offer has been made, you have 25 days to accept or reject the builder’s terms.
  1. File a lawsuit.
    If the builder refuses to make a reasonable offer, your homeowner lawyer may recommend filing a lawsuit.

What If My Home Builder Left My Home Construction Unfinished?

If your builder left work unfinished, they are breaking their contractual agreement. We recommend scheduling a closing inspection of your home, during which you and the builder will make a list of items that still need to be completed. If your builder does not fulfill their obligation by finishing the job, contact a construction lawyer to hold them accountable.

What If I Can’t Locate My Home Builder To Finish Home Construction?

If your home builder has disappeared and cannot be contacted, get in touch with a construction law firm immediately. In some cases, builders leave town unexpectedly – and some even change their names! If you suspect suspicious activity like this, contact a construction lawyer.

How to Resolve Home Defects Not Disclosed Prior To Closing On My Home?

The first step is identifying who is responsible for the failure to disclose, such as the seller, seller’s realtor, or inspector. If the liable party refuses to make the necessary repairs or offer a reasonable settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit.

How Do I Write A Letter To A Bad Contractor?

When making your complaints known to a bad contractor, it is best to keep it simple. The following general template can be used:

  • Use standard business letter format, including the builder’s name and address as well as the date.
  • Open with a complimentary sentence or two that mentions something the builder did well.
  • Issue your complaints and proposed solution.
  • Close with a specific date by which you expect the issues to be resolved.
  • Include photos of the defect along with any other documentation.
  • Send the letter via certified mail. This requires a signature, ensuring the builder cannot claim that they never received it.

Use this template to draft your complaint letter:

From,
[Insert name]
[Insert address]
[Insert date]

To,
[Insert name]
[Insert address]

Subject: COMPLAINT LETTER

Dear [insert name],
I appreciate [insert compliment/job executed properly].
Unfortunately, the following issues have come to my attention:

  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic. Suggest solution.
  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic. Suggest solution.
  • List issue and briefly describe the specifics that are problematic. Suggest solution.

The intent of this letter is to clearly inform you that if the situation is not rectified by [insert date], I will be forced to pursue legal action.

[include photos, receipts, documentation, etc]

Sincerely,
[Insert your name]
[Insert title]
Signature

6 MOST COMMON CONSTRUCTION DEFECT QUESTIONS

What is a construction defect?
Home owners can be plagued by countless concerns, ranging from simple to severe. But to be considered a defect, construction law requires the issue to include all of the following:

  • A deficiency in the building process (defect in design, workmanship or materials)
  • A structural failure caused by this deficiency
  • Damage to a person or property as a result (financial or otherwise)

What is a construction defect lawyer vs construction lawyer?

These two terms refer to the same attorneys practicing construction law. While some primarily provide legal representation to builders, our team at Ben Traywick Law focuses on protecting homeowners’ rights. If you are involved in a construction dispute, trust our experienced attorneys to fight for you.

What are the 3 main types of construction defects?

Construction defects are typically classified as one of the following:

  1. Design defects
    These defects occur when a designer fails to create satisfactory blueprints or construction plans. Typically, a redesign is required.
  1. Material defects
    Damaged or poor-quality materials can result in costly defects, often requiring extra labor in addition to the expense of replacement.
  1. Workmanship defects
    These defects occur when the contractor fails to meet expectations and does not finish the job in accordance with the agreed-upon plans.

What Is Required To Be Disclosed To Homeowners When Buying Home?

While some states do not require much to be disclosed, others are much more stringent. For example, “buyer beware” states, do not mandate the disclosure of any information unless it is specifically inquired about. The real estate agent may be held to a higher standard, and in some states is required to disclose any issues they are privy to.

Fortunately for home buyers, South Carolina is not a “buyer beware”state. However, if you and the buyer agree in writing that no statement is necessary, you are not required to disclose anything.

That makes it much simpler to determine what needs to be disclosed. This sample disclosure form of STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

The form includes 24 questions about your home’s condition, with questions specifically geared toward problems with a particular part of the home. These include the following:

  • Roof and gutters (including age)
  • Other structural components (foundation, chimney, doors, etc.)
  • Mechanical systems (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.)
  • Insect infestations
  • Unrepaired damage
  • Water supply, quality, and pressure
  • Sewage system
  • Zoning laws, legal actions, flood hazards, easements, etc.
  • Hazardous materials (asbestos, lead-based paint, etc.)
  • Rental agreements in place at time of closing
  • Presence of utility company-owned equipment (propane or natural gas tanks, etc.)
  • Outstanding utility bills

What is “ standard of care” in regards to home construction?

Every party involved in your home’s construction must uphold the “standard of care.” Simply put, this means that their work must meet the expectations outlined in the contract and design plans. Failure to satisfy these contractual obligations could result in legal action.

What is Right to Cure? South Carolina Law Gives Your Home Builder A Right To Cure and Fix Construction Defect

Here in South Carolina, your builder is protected from immediate legal action by the right to cure. That means that once you discover a construction defect, you are required to give the builder a chance to make it right. Construction law requires the home buyer to notify the builder in writing at least 90 days before filing a construction defect lawsuit. If the builder does not conduct an inspection or respond to your claim within 30 days, you may pursue legal action.

Construction Defect
Frequently Asked Questions

You may or may not need to hire a home damage lawyer, but it certainly makes sense for you to call a construction defect lawyer to discuss your options. Our construction attorneys will discuss your situation at no obligation to you. 

South Carolina law allows subsequent purchasers to pursue claims against the builder. Every situation is different, so call us to discuss your specific circumstances. 

There is no simple answer to this question. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations requires a homeowner to file a lawsuit within three years of the moment the homeowner knew or should have known that he or she had a claim against the builder. There is quite a bit of legal nuance to correct application of the statute of limitations. Some claims that seem timely may be late, while some claims that seem late may still have a chance. So our advice is simple: as soon as you suspect builder negligence, call our construction attorneys to determine where you stand. 

A skilled construction attorney could talk all day about the problems with homebuilder warranties and their warranty repair process. Answering this specific question: South Carolina law provides homeowners with warranty rights that far exceed the terms of most homebuilders’ written warranty. Builders are prohibited from waiving or limiting these legal rights. 

It depends on the particular circumstances. Occasionally, our firm of construction attorneys represent clients whose houses were built 20 or even 30 years ago. 

Water intrusion through windows, roofs, and chimneys; buckling or failing floors and siding; flooding; sitework deficiencies (drainage, erosion, sinkholes, etc); HVAC issues. 

Yes. A construction attorney can help you file a legal claim. 

Construction defect cases are expert driven, typically involving a forensic analysis performed by a civil engineer and the preparation by a licensed general contractor of a cost estimate for the repairs specified by the engineer. 

A class action is a procedural device under which a group of claimants, who have similar claims against the same defendants, can join together as a “class” of plaintiffs, for purposes of pursuing their claims as a group rather than individually. For example, a group of 100 homeowners, comprising an entire phase of a certain homebuilder’s neighborhood, all have new homes that have the brick veneer installed improperly. Subject to court approval, these claimants can be joined as a class to pursue claims for brick repair against the homebuilder and its brickmason subcontractor. 

Because of the need for numerous layers of experts (See Above), construction defect cases are expensive to prosecute, from $7,500 up to $50,000 per house, depending on square footage, severity of defects, and other factors. For most homeowner clients, to pay these experts and legal fees out of pocket is out of the question. Fortunately, for most clients, we pursue claims on a “contingency fee” basis, under which Ben Traywick Law Firm advances all of the costs and is paid out of the funds recovered from the defendants. 

Our state’s law requires disclosure of the following, as detailed in this sample disclosure form of STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY CONDITION DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

Talk to your contractor directly and try to reach a mutually agreeable solution. If this cannot be achieved, it is best to bring an experienced construction lawyer on board. Your attorney will offer trusted legal representation if you decide to file a lawsuit.
The “right to cure” gives builders the opportunity to fix their mistake before a home buyer can pursue legal action. Under our state’s construction laws, the home buyer must notify the builder of the construction defect in writing at least 90 days before filing a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, South Carolina law does not require a warranty on new homes. Any warranty is provided independently by the builder itself and must be disclosed within your contract. The Statute of Repose, however, sets a final deadline for filing a construction defect claim. Home buyers must take legal action within eight years from the date of the construction’s completion.

For more information about South Carolina home warranty laws, check out the South Carolina Construction Law Commedium

Construction on a property adjacent to yours may result in a nuisance claim or structural damage claim. Most nuisance claims name noise and dust as the main concerns, while structural damage claims refer to direct physical damage – often the result of vibration, demolition or excavation. In addition to securing compensation for costly repairs, filing a claim could end with permit loss and bad press for the builder.

Construction on a property adjacent to yours may result in a nuisance claim or structural damage claim. Most nuisance claims name noise and dust as the main concerns, while structural damage claims refer to direct physical damage – often the result of vibration, demolition or excavation. In addition to securing compensation for costly repairs, filing a claim could end with permit loss and bad press for the builder.

Liquidated damages are a specific sum of money that can be recovered if one party breaches the contract. This amount is agreed upon by the parties involved when the contract is signed. In most construction cases, a contract breach refers to a failure to finish work on time. Liquidated damages are calculated using this formula:

Total Contract Price – [(X amount of $ per day) x (number of days late)]

Start outside and check for the following:

  • Water accumulation near the foundation
  • Downspout and gutter condition
  • Cracked or missing shingles
  • Separation or soft spots in window and door frames

Next, inspect your home’s interior and look out for:

  • Soft or sagging areas on the floor (especially near appliances, bathtubs, etc.)
  • Water rings on the walls or ceilings
  • Watermarks, discoloration or dampness under sinks
  • Warped or damaged flooring
  • Rust on the hot water heater
  • The smell of mildew or mold

Under South Carolina law, you will receive a disclosure statement that provides details about eight areas of the home – including water and sewer.

If you purchased a home and then discovered a leak, determining liability can be tricky. If the seller was aware of the damage and failed to disclose it, your homeowner lawyer will work to hold them accountable. If the inspector acted negligently, they may be liable. Because identifying the responsible party is often complicated, it is best to contact an experienced construction lawyer near you.

If your roofer did a poor job, contact them immediately about your concerns. Be sure to document the issue, making notes and taking pictures. In some cases, the roofing contractor will return to make repairs. In others, you may need to file a construction defect claim to recover the damages you deserve. Contact a trusted construction law firm to advocate for your rights.


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Why Hire Our Construction
Defect Attorneys?

It is said that a family’s home is its largest investment. The home is also a family’s refuge, the place to find peace of mind at the end of a day, respite from the hectic world beyond. It is where we raise our children, celebrate holidays, hang out with friends, keep our pets. Simply put, to the people who live there, home is the most important place on Earth.

At Ben Traywick Law Firm, we understand that when home gets turned upside down, people’s lives get turned upside down, too. The opportunity to help people who find themselves in these predicaments is why we love what we do, and why we bring such passion to the office and to the courtroom.

Ben Traywick Law Firm’s construction defect lawyers have had a front-row seat to Charleston’s construction boom over the last decade. Representing homeowner clients, we have witnessed chronically poor workmanship, in one home after another, in every corner of the Lowcountry – including Charleston, Mount Pleasant, West Ashley, Summerville, Berkeley County, Beaufort. We have also witnessed it in every corner of the housing market – from national tract developers to “semi custom” builders to the most expensive custom homes being built in the Charleston area. We used to be surprised, but now we consider it routine to find the same problems, over and over, whether the home sold for $275,000 or $3,000,000.

As builders move on to the next project in Charleston’s red-hot housing market, the homebuyer is left to suffer the consequences as reality sinks in over time. Massive repair costs. Diminished property value. Simultaneously paying a mortgage and the rent for temporary replacement housing. The prospect of trying to sell the house while disclosing the numerous defects that the builder left the homeowner with.

Give Ben Traywick Law Firm a call or submit information about your situation through our secure, online portal. Our Charleston law firm of South Carolina attorneys will listen to your problems, talk through your options, and hopefully earn your trust and the opportunity to seek justice on your behalf.

What Our Construction Defect Clients Say About Us

“Ben Traywick helped me and my fellow homeowners navigate a very unusual, stressful and complex situation resulting in a full settlement for our group. After purchasing our new construction homes, we dealt with deceptive builders who didn’t want to address a land erosion issue or work with us on an equitable solution. Initially, Ben spent various hours meeting with each homeowner (free of charge) to review potential outcomes and help us come to agreement on next steps. Once we engaged Ben, he spent 2 plus years navigating the various challenges of the case: deposed experts, negotiated with 5 separate defendants, complicated court system, frustrated homeowners, etc.). In the end, Ben was successful in getting the defendants to pay full damages without having to go to court. I would highly recommend Ben Traywick and his team to fight for you rights in a fair, honest and equitable manner.”

– James B, Charleston

“Having never been involved in a civil litigation I was very skeptical about how to effectively right a wrong that we experienced regarding construction of our house. I interviewed three attorneys and chose Ben Traywick because he was honest, candid, and clearly possessed deep subject matter expertise. As our process unfolded, we learned to appreciate Ben’s strategic advice and incredibly wise counsel. In the end, we achieved an outcome that exceeded our expectations, a result that we attribute to the skill and experience of our great attorney.”
– John D.
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Let's Discuss Your Case.

Take our home defect review  to see if you have legal grounds for lawsuit, it’s easy. Ben Traywick Law Firm is always here to help, eager to learn more about your legal claim and defend your rights as a homeowner. 

We manage a variety of home defect concerns including floor damage, siding issues, window leaks, chimney leaks, construction damage, structure damage, land development errors, and other construction defects claims. 

We welcome you to contact our Charleston law firm of construction defect lawyers today to start the process.

For more information | Discover Construction Defect Attorney Near Me

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