“Buyer’s remorse” for homeowners can present itself in the form of a construction defect claim. The homeowner files a claim against the homebuilder and often against any and all subcontractors they can find. The claims often allege that the home is defective due to shoddy construction—poor workmanship—in the form of soil foundation problems, concrete cracking, settling, or leaking.

When evaluating a construction defect claim, a good place to start is the Workmanship Standards for Licensed Contractors. This document is published by the Registrar of Contractors. These ROC standards provide easily accessible information that can help a claims adjuster quickly decide how to proceed with a claim.

The ROC standards provide quality standards for some of the major components of a home that often concern homeowners, such as: carpentry, concrete, electrical, HVAC, insulation, masonry, plumbing, roofs, siding, stucco, swimming pools, and waterproofing.

These ROC standards provide a useful tool for quickly assessing the potential of a contractor’s responsibility in common construction defect claims. For a wide variety of issues under the major components mentioned above, the standards briefly introduce the “Possible Deficiency”—a quantifiable threshold of “Acceptable Tolerance” above which may be the contractor’s responsibility and below which the condition may be considered acceptable. The standards then provide a description of the “Contractor Responsibility” for the corrective action needed to correct the situation.

As an example, consider a “Possible Deficiency” of the walls not being at 90° angles to each other. The “Acceptable Tolerance” is that the walls should be perpendicular within a ¼ inch in 10 feet. If that tolerance is not met, then the “Contractor Responsibility” is to make the repairs necessary to satisfy the Acceptable Tolerance. (See page 6 of ROC standards.)

The ROC standards for workmanship are designed to provide guidance to homeowners and contractors regarding common construction issues. They are not exhaustive, building codes will prevail over these standards if there is a conflict between the two, and they may be further affected by a construction contract. However, they are easily accessible and they provide intuitive assistance for quickly assessing common construction issues. For these reasons, they serve as a great starting point for gaining a quick estimation of the merits of a construction defect claim.

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