Defects are aspects of a building that are not performing adequately for their intended use.
Defects may occur because of:
- Design deficiencies.
- Product or material deficiencies.
- Poor specification.
- Workmanship deficiencies.
- Maintenance deficiencies.
- Changes of use.
- Environmental influences.
Defects in new buildings may be attributable to designers, suppliers or contractors, and may result in a claim. In addition, during the first 12 months or so after completion (depending on the terms of the construction contract), the contractor may be required to remedy defects during a time commonly referred to as the 'defects liability period', and beyond that there may be some form of ongoing warranty.
In addition, irrespective of contractual obligations, the Defective Premises Act 1972 provides that a person taking on work for, or in connection with, the provision of a dwelling owes a duty to the person acquiring the dwelling and subsequent purchasers to see that the work which they take on is done in a workmanlike or professional manner, with proper materials so that it will be fit for habitation when completed.
However, defects in older buildings may not be clearly attributable to a particular party, but may result from a change in circumstances or use, an environmental impact, poor maintenance and so on, or from a combination of factors.
The housing stock in England is relatively old, with approximately 44% built before 1980, and 20% built before 1919. As a result it is prone to poor performance and a number of common defects.
- Contaminated land.
- Cracking and building movement. (see also: Ground heave / Settlement / Subsidence).
- Damp (see also: Penetrating damp / Rising damp / Condensation).
- Defects in brickwork (see also: Efflorescence / Spalling).
- Defects in dot and dab.
- Defects in stonework.
- Dry rot.
- Flooring defects.
- Hazardous substances (See also: Asbestos).
- Mould growth.
- Roofing defects (See also: Flat roof defects).
- Sick building syndrome.
- Wall tie failure.
- Wet rot.
Other common problems may include:
- Defective chimneys.
- Defective rainwater fittings, plumbing or drainage.
- Defective windows.
- Defective wiring.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building pathology.
- Certificate of making good defects.
- Defective Premises - Liability and Measure of Damages.
- Defective Premises Act.
- Defects liability period.
- English housing stock age.
- Flat definition.
- Remedial work.
- Residential definition.
- Schedule of condition.
- Schedule of defects.
- Scott schedule.
- Sheltered housing definition.
- Types of dwelling.
- Types of household.
- Use class.
Featured articles and news
Historic England has released a new suite of heritage indicators in the final part of its Heritage Counts programme focusing on heritage branding of places.
Historic England consulted on this document with a selected group of stakeholders, including the IHBC, whose findings included that the document should refer to BS 7913: 2013 and better reflect the English Heritage advice on Disposal of Heritage Assets.
Wimpole Gothic Tower- how to conserve a structure designed as a ruin, says Karen Teideman-Barrett in her recent article in IHBC’s Context No 146.
The service that helps careers, employers and heritage posts £6million in collective salaries to date this year with 69% recommending IHBC membership.
The latest edition is themed on protecting memory and managing change – looking at the practices, processes and laws that ensure the historic environment can be preserved.
Historic England is offering charged-for services giving owners more opportunities to pursue listing certainty and pre-application planning conversations, says Emily Gee.
The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) says improving thermal efficiency is important, but not as much as decarbonising the supply of energy to buildings.
The Telegraph reports that up to 70 stately homes could be closed to the public in the next five years due to escalating repair costs the Historic Houses Association (HHA) says.