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Are Aesthetic Disputes Valid Construction Defects?

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If you have a construction project, you have construction contracts, and those contracts dictate the important details about the construction project. Most of those details are pretty clear.

For example, the contract will have time limits, talk about what materials are used, discuss internal dimensions of the structure, or talk about other features that the property should have. Those details are easy to follow—and easy to tell when they are breached.

Subjective Terms

But what about aesthetics? Aesthetics are inherently subjective, and often, the aesthetic provisions in a construction project are vague—too vague to even know when they have been breached. Can you enforce what are mostly subjective provisions in a construction project? Are breaches of a construction project which are simply aesthetic in nature, constitute a valid breach of a construction contract?

The first question to ask is whether the defect really is aesthetic. For example, if flooring is uneven, or slightly misaligned, you may say that it “doesn’t look right,” or that it “looks cheap,” but really, this may not be an aesthetic, subjective problem—it may well be an objective case of poor workmanship.

Be Clear in Your Contracts

Although considered aesthetic, subjective items can be included in your construction contract—the key is to be as specific and detailed as possible. Your contract should avoid terms that are difficult to define. For example, saying that a structure should be “opulent” or “old fashioned” or “airy,” are difficult to define, and difficult to prove any breach when a dispute over a defect arises.

You can mitigate difficulties by providing standards in your contracts. For example, you can say that a structure should be equal to other such structures in the general community,” or provide another objective standard by which to measure your otherwise subjective contractual terms.

Specifying material can help as well, by saying that “marble” or “real wood” will be used. You can also specify building techniques, or styles, so long as the style has an objective definition.

The Purpose for the Structure

You can also say that something should be suitable, for the purpose it is intended, which may include aesthetics.

For example, if you are building a school, there are certain structural components that, while they look nice, may not be appropriate for a school. If the owner’s project has a specific use, the owner should make sure to include that in the construction contracts, so that if there is a dispute over a subjective item later on, there is an objective way to measure whether there has been a breach or not.

Remember that it is almost never a breach of a construction contact, just because the owner doesn’t like what it ordered. The fact that the color, material, or layout of a given structure doesn’t turn out quite as visually pleasing as the owner thought it wanted will almost never be a basis for a breach of a construction contract.

Our Fort Lauderdale construction law attorneys at Sweeney Law P.A. at 954 440-3993 are here to help you draft your construction contracts, and to help you avoid legal problems in your construction project.

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