Whether you’re the owner of a new construction facing defects, or a homeowner who’s had renovations done to your property that involve defects, we’re here to help!
While many questions can be answered with the help of the guides, sample letters and forms in our legal toolkit, an independent jurist affiliated with PSP Legal will always be happy to help you by answering any questions you may have.
Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner take charge of your situation and intervene directly and quickly on your behalf, you can also request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal represent you by clicking here.
What is a defect?
Bad workmanship is generally defined as construction or renovation work that has been poorly executed. These are minor defects that, a priori, have no impact on the building itself. So, in the case of malfaçon, the defect must not be serious, nor cause any inconvenience or risk to the safety of the building’s occupants.
Under article 2120 of the Quebec Civil Code, not all construction workers can be held liable for faulty workmanship. Architects, engineers, contractors and sub-contractors in particular can be held liable. As a result, when these people work on the same project, they can be held jointly liable for defects. Joint liability means that each will be held responsible for the share to which he or she has contributed.
Types of defects
The first category of defects is those that are visible. Indeed, it is possible that upon completion of the work, the owner of the building may have noticed the presence of one or more defects. It could also have been noticed by the contractor or another worker present during construction. Apparent defects must therefore be recorded in the inspection document submitted at the end of the work and upon delivery of the building. When defects appear in a document before delivery of the building, the general contractor will be presumed responsible for them and will have to correct them. However, he could be relieved of this obligation if the building owner accepts the document without requesting corrections. In this way, the owner would be presumed to have accepted the building in its current state, with apparent defects. In the future, he would not be able to take recourse against the workers for these defects.
Non-apparent defects will not appear in the inspection document, since they are not visible. This means that the building owner has one year to discover them. In other words, there’s a one-year warranty against non-apparent defects. Once this period has expired, the building owner can no longer claim them from the builder. If an owner wishes to claim compensation for defects that are not apparent within one year, he or she need only prove the existence of the defect. The owner does not have to prove fault on the part of the builders, since the presumption of liability lasts for one year.
If a defect is discovered after the builder’s one-year warranty period, the homeowner can sue for contractual liability under article 1458 of the Civil Code of Québec. The owner would have to prove contractual fault, prejudice and a causal link between the two.
Construction defects are not the same as faulty workmanship. In fact, unlike the latter, construction defects are serious inconveniences affecting the structure of the building. They therefore entail risks and inconveniences for the safety of the building’s occupants. To bring a claim for construction defects, the building owner must turn against the architect and engineer.
When defects are not apparent and appear before the expiry of the legal warranty, you must first inform the general contractor. If the general contractor refuses to remedy the problem, the building owner can take recourse against him. Obviously, it’s preferable to have sent a formal notice to the contractor before taking legal action.
It is also possible to file a complaint with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec. To do so, the contractor must hold a license from the Régie du bâtiment. However, before filing a complaint, the building owner must have sent a formal notice to the contractor asking him to correct any defects that occurred within one year of delivery of the building. If the owner does not receive a response from the contractor within ten days of receiving the formal notice, he or she may file a complaint with the Régie du bâtiment du Québec.
How we can help
Our legal toolkit includes a variety of online resources and links to templates and guides to help you better understand your obligations.
However, should the Legal Toolkit prove insufficient in your situation, you can obtain additional assistance by speaking with one of PSP Legal’s affiliated jurists:
Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner handle your situation, you can always request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal intervene on your behalf by clicking here. He or she will then be able to intervene directly and rapidly on your behalf by:
- Preparing, negotiating and drafting applications, procedures or any other legal documents related to your situation;
- Assisting and advising you on your legal rights and obligations;
- Representing you before the courts when legal action is taken;
- Guiding you through the choices available to you, leading to a fair and satisfactory solution.
PSP Legal, because you deserve expert advice!
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