A Video Explaining Some of the Construction of a Dwelling
To understand the construction defect claim and the litigation surrounding construction defects, it is necessary to first have a basic understanding of construction, what is proper and prudent and what can go wrong. Building codes prescribe basic standards. When these standards are not followed, or not followed carefully enough, a building can fail. It may leak or lean or even fall down.
Typical single-family homes built during the last century were constructed with a wood frame built on top of a concrete foundation. The foundations are either raised on piers or poured flat on grade. The lumber that makes up the wood frame is usually jacketed with lath (thin wood strips) or a moisture barrier paper with a wire covering that is covered with stucco (a durable porous concrete product), exterior insulation and finish systems (artificial stucco) or wood or vinyl siding. The interior walls are usually finished with drywall (gypsum covered in paper that, when finished, gives the appearance of lath and plaster) or, in older structures, wood lath and plaster. Basic single-family dwellings are usually one to two stories in height and range from 900 to 3,500 square feet. Of course, there are also “mansions” where a single family may reside in a 20,000 square foot structure. It is becoming common to remodel old dwellings of 900 – 1100 square feet into 5,000 to 7,000 square foot “McMansions” on small residential lots. These extreme remodeling efforts often run afoul of claims of construction defect.
Failure of footings can cause the dwelling to sink, slip, or lean, causing plaster walls and stucco to crack; roofs, windows, and doors to lose their watertight seals; and doors to creak.
In addition to footings, foundations can be created using piles of wood, concrete or sometimes metal columns that are driven into the ground and used to support the structure and prevent it from sinking. Piles are either driven down until they hit bedrock, or if bedrock is too difficult to reach, the piles are driven to a depth where the soil friction against the side of the pile is sufficient to prevent any further downward movement.
Standard walls are 8 to 12 feet high. Boards approximately two inches by six inches (2x6s) are commonplace in residential construction because they provide a wider cavity that accommodates more insulation than the standard; approximately two inch by four inch boards (2x4s). The 2×4 is still most popular for most remodeling and add-ons.
Framing consists of top and bottom plates, wall studs, headers, and trimmers/king studs as needed for window and door openings.
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