Articles & Publications 11.03.22

An Introduction to New York Construction Defect Law

Throughout the passage of time, one thing remains constant in New York – new construction. Unfortunately, with new construction comes new allegations of alleged defects associated with these projects. In New York construction, however, perfection is not the legal standard by which construction is measured. The standard used for completed construction is the ordinary and reasonable skill that is usually exercised by engineers, architects, contractors, and others in that work.[1] Accordingly, not all alleged defects are actionable under New York construction law.

Construction defects are one of the most common causes of disputes and litigation in the construction industry. Differing viewpoints, conflicting experts, and interests of the parties involved lays the foundation for disagreement when it comes to identifying construction defects. Common types of alleged construction defects may include design defects, improper materials, time limitations, defective construction, and improper installation.

Common alleged building defects may include:

  • Improper insulation
  • Defective plumbing
  • Faulty wiring
  • Improper drainage
  • Underground water
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Inadequate land grading

At the outset, a determination of the type of defect involved is necessary for determining which party or parties may be responsible for the alleged defect. Responsibility could rest with the owner, the architect, the engineer or engineers, the contractor, the subcontractor, suppliers, or other involved parties. Generally, a design professional, such as an architect or engineer, may not be held liable for defects in construction.[2] Similarly, the contractor may not be held responsible for design defects.[3] Not all alleged defects have the same characteristics – some can be latent in that they are concealed and hidden from inspection, and others may be patent in that they are apparent to the outside observer. In some situations, an alleged construction defect can contain variations of latent and patent characteristics.

At Segal McCambridge Singer & Mahoney, LTD., our office helps clients throughout New York and New Jersey defend owners, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, and other parties with various alleged defects in construction. For more information and for help with defense in construction defect-related claims, please contact Jeffrey Marchese at or (212) 651-7434.

[1] Major v. Leary, 241 A.D. 606 (2d Dep’t 1934); 530 East 89 Corp. v. Unger, 54 A.D.2d 848 (1st Dep’t 1976).

[2] 530 East 89 Corp. v. Unger, 43 N.Y.2d 776 (1977).

[3] Meseck v. General Elec. Co., 195 A.D.2d 798 (3d Dep’t 1993); Caronna v. Macy’s E., Inc., 6 Misc.3d 1016(A) (Sup. Ct., N.Y. 2001).