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Foundation vapor retarders: the most common defect in the U.S.

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2021 | Construction Contracts

One of the country’s foremost third-party inspection companies, Quality Built, LLC, analyzed more than two million points of data on construction projects it inspected around the U.S. According to its findings, the most common defect in 2018 – the most recent year available for data – was anomalies in the vapor barrier of foundations.

A common, but serious, defect

Though the foundation of any project is crucial for its habitability, foundations continue to pose problems for designers, contractors and builders of all varieties. Moisture barriers in particular seem to cause troubles. Quality Built found abnormalities in foundations’ vapor retarders for 65% of the construction projects it examined, making it the most common of all construction defects detected.

When vapor intrudes through a foundation, the damage can prove disastrous over the long-term. Mold and other bio-growth can reduce the air quality and contribute to illness in residents or visitors. Moisture can also damage the flooring, insulation and framing, causing structural problems.

Expensive defects, expensive disputes

As a common construction defect, foundation issues also often lie at the center of construction disputes. Determining the liable party is not always easy. Sometimes, the fault lies with the contractor who did not seal the perimeter correctly. Other times, the architect or designer is liable for creating a faulty design. The blame might also lie with a manufacturer who used subpar sealant or other materials.

Claims involving foundational issues can have particularly high value. This is because foundational issues are so expensive to repair and because flaws in the foundation tend to cause significant damages. With that said, the proactive prevention of foundation defects and subsequent claims through regulatory compliance and attention to detail is always much more cost-efficient than a drawn-out lawsuit.