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Weathering the Storm: When Hurricane Damage Leads to Construction Defect Claims

Posted on: October 22nd, 2020

By: Jennifer Adair

With recent decades bringing an uptick in hurricane activity and increasingly strengthening storms, builders must brace for a swell of claims. Insurers typically anticipate the traditional claims for property damage caused by wind and water. However, such weather events may spin off a host of other concerns for builders who are already struggling with storm-related delays and labor shortages.

Construction defect claims tend to follow big storms, as owners and insurers look for reasons to attribute damages to defects in design, faulty construction, or improper building materials. Owners and insurers contend that storm damage was actually caused by – or at least worsened by – building inadequacies and that a properly constructed building would have withstood the force of wind or prevented water intrusion. Such claims are often grounded in allegations that builders failed to meet the stricter building codes enacted to combat storm damage.

When allegations of construction defects appear possible, builders should work with counsel to gather and preserve evidence to combat such claims in a timely manner. In the aftermath of a storm and in the haste to rebuild, critical documents, communications and physical evidence can be lost. This may involve engaging inspectors or other experts early, before clean-up and reconstruction begins. Further, builders facing such contentions should explore any steps available to mitigate damages, whether that means protecting storm-damaged structures from further damage caused by exposure to the elements or remediating water or mold damage. By adopting proactive approach in the immediate aftermath, builders place themselves in the best position to minimize exposure for construction defect claims down the line.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Adair at [email protected]. Jennifer grew up in South Alabama, and knows what it means when Jim Cantore is in town.

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