Types of Construction Defects

Travelers umbrella logo.
By Travelers Risk Control
3 minutes

Construction defects can result from deficiencies in the product itself, how something is designed, installed, operated or maintained. Damages might be seen immediately (such as a burst water pipe), or appear over time (such as a slowly shifting foundation).

When allegations of construction defect are presented, understanding each of these potential failure mechanisms (design, installation, products and operation/maintenance) can help to identify potential culpable parties.

#1 Design Deficiencies

Illustration of a blue print and right angle ruler.  

Such as failure of architects or engineers in the design of a building or system. Flawed roof designs that result in water penetration, poor drainage or inadequate structural support are examples.

#2 Material Deficiencies

Illustration of a cracked window frame.  

Such as failure due to defective or damaged building materials. Inferior products that do not last as long as intended or window frames bent during transit that do not allow for proper installation, leading to water intrusion, are examples.

#3 Construction Deficiencies

Illustration of a leaking pipe.  

Such as failure due to poor quality workmanship, which can result in a range of damages. Improper plumbing work causing leaks that might promote mold growth or damage electrical wires in a wall is an example.

#4 Operational and Maintenance Deficiencies

Illustration of a wrench.  

Such as failure of the owner to use or maintain the structure or system properly. Not maintaining an exterior sealant, which may cause it to break down and let water in, is one example. Keeping the temperature on an HVAC system too low through the winter, causing pipes to freeze, is another.

Protecting Your Work Against Construction Defect Allegations

Being prepared to defend yourself against a construction defect claim is a good business strategy. Document every step in the construction process to build a solid record that can be used in court. Pay attention to current laws and requirements in the regions where you work. Work closely with your insurance and legal advisors to help prevent and mitigate your construction defect liability.

Construction worker inspecting for construction defects.

Top Stories

Mitigating Construction Defects with a Quality Control Program

A construction quality control plan can help mitigate risks of construction defect losses.

Related Products & Services

Our construction insurance products and services are designed to meet contractors’ unique and challenging exposures.

More Prepare & Prevent

Finding an Effective Construction Subcontractor

Subcontractors can have a significant impact on your financial and operational risks. Here are some tips from Travelers to help reduce risks when selecting a construction subcontractor.

Construction site contractor meeting with subcontractor.

More Prepare & Prevent

Do You Have a Contractual Risk Transfer Program?

A contractual risk transfer (CRT) program can help protect contractors when working with third-party services or products.

Person signing a certificate of insurance.

More Prepare & Prevent

Preventing Frozen Pipes for Businesses

Help prevent frozen pipes at your business, including preventing frozen sprinkler pipes. Help keep your business safe this winter with tips from Travelers.

Close-up of frozen pipes.