Faulty Building or Failed Construction?

Building Faults - Faulty Construction

Imperfections or blemishes in a material or structure, in workmanship or in appearance, which are the primary physical causes of the failure of a building component.  These may be departure from good practice in design or construction, or deficiencies in a material or product selected.  Where responsibility for a failure is to be allocated, ‘fault’ may refer to something wrongly done to which blame is attached; that is, the delinquent or culpable action which caused the fault to be incorporated or retained in the built work.

Building Defects - Defective Construction

The absence of something essential to completeness, a lack or a deficiency arising from an incorrectly designed or built component of a building – a product of fault.  Not all defects give rise to perceptible problems.  For example, mortar bridging a wall cavity is a defect whether or not rain crosses the cavity, causing wet plaster.

Building Failures - Failed Construction

Incorrect or deficient behaviour, giving way, cessation of function – the consequence of a defect where and to the extent that the defect impairs performance or appearance: in the above example, rain penetration across a wall cavity.

Damage - Damages

The harm, injury or impairment of value resulting from a failure: in the above example, the water damage to plaster and the need to correct the fault and repair the plaster.  Where legal terminology is used, ‘damages’ is a sum of money claimed or awarded in compensation for loss or injury.  In this latter context, 'damages' is the legal remedy for a breach of contract.

Loss - Losses

The quantification of damage.  This may be the cost of accommodating failures, mitigating damage or eliminating faults.  The usual measure, where damages result from a breach of contract, is the cost of putting the wronged party in the position it would have been in had the breach not occurred.  We will see later on that while this may form the basis of calculation, it is rarely, if ever, the net reward for successful litigation.