Concrete swimming pool and spa construction expert Paolo Benedetti discusses what constitutes a "defect" or a "deviation" and the related responsibilities.
Exactly what is a defect or deviation?
A "defect" is an aspect of a project that is installed in conflict with any of the following:
- building codes
- local ordinance or law
- industry standards
- accepted trade practices
A "deviation" is an aspect of a project that is installed in conflict with any of the following:
- manufacturers recommendations or instructions
- project specifications or designs
- contractual requirements
Defects may be further broken down into "lack of knowledge," "installation errors," or "component failures." Many times there are overlapping causes of project defects - the most common being ignorance that results in installation errors, that then affect the ability of materials to perform properly.
Deviations may affect the performance of materials, the functionality of the project or the project's appearance and finish. They may eventually cause some sort of failure, whether it be structural, performance or aesthetic.
A defect is always the result of some sort of deviation. However, a deviation may not always result in a defect. For example, if an installation is performed perfectly and the materials fail to perform, then the materials experienced a deviation from the quality standards.
Building codes are the laws that govern how construction projects are to be designed, engineered and built. Like traffic laws, how stringently they are enforced is dependent upon the local authorities. And, just like when there is a traffic collision, various obscure laws may be enforced after the fact... even laws you were not aware of!
Building codes often make reference to or may even directly incorporate various industry or trade standards and workmanship guidelines. Any referenced standards become a "second tier" of the building codes that are also legally binding.
Local ordinances are laws, codes or requirements that have been adopted by the local jurisdiction. They create more restrictive standards than those adopted by the broader authority. An example, is a county that requires stronger glass windows than required by state law.
Industry standards and accepted trade practices only become law when they referenced in an existing code or ordinance. If there is a dispute regarding workmanship, defects or deviations, then in civil or administrative hearings these are incorporated into the collection of enforceable standards.
The structural engineer has the responsibility of designing the project to overcome the anticipated loads and to exceed the current building codes.
The contractor then executes the engineer's design. It is the contractors responsibility to ensure adherance to the applicable codes. They have the additional burden of ensuring that all work is performed to the highest code or standard that is applicable to any aspect of a project.
When installed materials fail to perform correctly, then the contractor does not bear any liability, provided that they adhered to the highest applicable standard.
This is why, when codes, standards, plans, specifications or manufacturer's instructions are in conflict with one another, the strictest standard shall prevail.
It's all about liability and responsibility!
Aquatic Artist, Consultant & Construction Management
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