Latent defects are described as hidden defects within the material or as a result of poor workmanship within a newly built property. They are not discoverable through a general inspection as it can sometimes take many years for the hidden problem to arise.
If latent defects are identified within a couple of years it is usually the responsibility of the building contractor to repair and remedy the problem. Unfortunately, it can be many years after the construction of a property before problems arise.
Nowadays, most newly built buildings are required have a National House Building Council (NHBC) Warranty or an insurance backed warranty. This helps to protect owners of newly built properties after they take ownership.
Examples and Causes of Latent Defects
Subsidence can be caused by understrength or shallow foundations. In the beginning this can cause cracks to appear in external and internal walls. Small cracks in plaster are quite common with a newly built property because it needs a period of time for it to settle on its foundations. If you see signs of larger cracks on the external walls then it may be time to investigate further.
Substandard building materials can be a cause of latent defects. This may be due to the builder buying cheaper alternative materials or they were simply not suitable in the first place. Latent defects can also be caused by the builder not following the exact design procedures.
If wall ties or wind-posts are inadequate or have not been fitted properly, this can cause movement resulting in damage to your property. If tanking in the basement is substandard or defective, it can allow moisture to ingress into the building which will then cause damp.
Protecting Yourself from Latent Defects
To protect yourself from latent defects the best way is to take out a 10-year structural defects policy. During this 10-year period it is reasonable that any defects will have been identified during this time. Most mortgage lenders will insist that you take out latent defects insurance with a brand-new building. Otherwise, they will not release the funds as it would be a large risk to them.