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I bought in a new condo development with lots of construction defects. Do I need to sue?

By Alanna Schubach | April 25, 2022 - 12:30PM

It's worth speaking to fellow owners to first see if you can address these defects as a group with the building developer.

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Question:

I recently moved into a condo in a new luxury development and discovered the building has lots of construction defects. How do I get the developer to make things right? Do I need to sue?

Answer:

Before you pursue legal action, it's worth speaking to fellow owners to see if you can address these defects as a group with the building developer, our experts say.

Unfortunately situations like yours appear to be multiplying. There are complaints about construction issues in several new developments in the city, the New York Times reports. Pandemic-induced construction delays and supply chain challenges may have caused some developers to cut corners, leading to problems like leaks, out-of-service elevators, and poor heating in buildings that went up in the past two years. (Check out Brick's list of the most common types of new construction defects.)

There are some steps you can take to pressure a developer to make the needed repairs. Start by talking to your neighbors who surely share your concerns. 

"First, you need to document the defects. Check in with other new owners and find out if they are experiencing the same thing," says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. "Perhaps there is a board that is being formed and they will be creating a case against the developer." 

It may also be helpful to your case to hire a professional who can evaluate the problems plaguing your new home. 

"'Construction defects' is a very vague term and could lead to a lot of interpretation. My suggestion would be to hire an inspector, similar to the process one would hire before purchasing an apartment, in order to have an objective point of view from a licensed professional," says Jeronimo Aguilar-Gutierrez, vice president of pricing and procurement with Bolster (a Brick sponsor). 

An inspector will help identify issues with the structural and mechanical systems of the apartment, and recommend replacements for anything in poor condition, Aguilar-Gutierrez explains. 

Armed with a professional evaluation of the building's defects, you'll be better prepared to push the developer to act—or to pursue legal action. 

"If the developer is willing to fix them, then you will need to give them a chance," Kory says. "If not, you may need to hire a powerful litigator who typically handles these cases." 


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