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Latent vs Patent Defects

Latent vs Patent Defects

Before you sell a house in the UK, it is essential to carry out a thorough inspection of the property. All known defects have to be reported to potential buyers as they will determine whether the house is worth its price. While some defects may deter potential buyers, the law requires sellers and their agents to disclose such issues as this will be in the interest of the buyer. These inspections should be carried out by qualified surveyors. These surveyors should be members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and this now incorporates the Institute of Surveyors and Valuers. Surveyors who are part of this body have ISO 9002 certification and have professional indemnity insurance. When inspecting the property, they can uncover patent or latent defects in the property. Let’s look at these two types of defects.

What is latent defect?

Latent defects are faults in buildings that are not readily apparent. They may be caused by failures in the building design, materials, or workmanship. Such faults may go undetected for many years, even with reasonable maintenance and inspection of the property. Latent defects can also be quite hard to rectify.

These defects can occur at various stages of the construction project, including the design phase, the delivery phase, and the handover of the project. A good way of minimizing latent defects is to automate and streamline these phases of the construction project. Defect management tools and tracking software can help to identify issues in real-time. This way, they can be rectified before they affect the structure of the building.

While latent defects are not readily visible in the property, they can significantly impact the value of the home and will also affect a potential buyer’s decision to purchase the house. Since these issues can be hard to detect, they may not come with financial liability on the part of the seller. The seller is only required to disclose known defects of the house and, if this rule isn’t followed, the seller may have to pay for repairs and any legal fees.

To protect yourself in the event of latent defects, you are encouraged to purchase latent defects insurance. This will help to cover the cost of the repairs or rebuilding in case structural issues are revealed after some months or years. This insurance will also help to prevent further damage to the structure. Latent defects insurance will generally cover the property for 10 to 12 years after the completion of the construction. It can also be granted to buyers of the house, as long as they buy the property within 12 years of the construction of the building.

Latent defect examples

Here are some common examples of latent defects in buildings:

• Plumbing issues such as water leakages in the basement
• Issues with the wiring of the house
• The presence of toxic materials such as asbestos and lead
• Instabilities in the foundation of the building
• Hidden termites

What is latent defect in testing?

Latent defect in testing refers to issues that arise during the diagnosis of the property. This is quite rare as most latent defects develop from the poor construction of the property or the materials used.

What is patent defect?

Patent defects are contrasted with latent defects in that they are easily identifiable. These defects should be reasonably discovered in a routine inspection of the property. Here are some examples of common patent defects:

• Cracks in the walls
• Sagging gutters
• Broken tiles or missing tiles
• Cracked swimming pool surround
• Cracked light switches
• Burn marks around the house
• Damaged woodwork

Fixing such defects will boost the value of the property and will make it easier to sell the house.


Homes can have patent and latent defects, and these can arise from poor construction or the use of the wrong materials. Patent defects are easily identifiable, even by an inexperienced individual. On the other hand, latent defects can be hard to notice. Some examples of latent defects are faulty wiring and plumbing issues. To protect yourself from financial loss in cases where you discover latent defects, you should take out latent defects insurance. This insurance is typically offered on houses that are less than 12 years old.

Click here to get a free, no obligation quote, or call Buildsafe today on 020 3701 0422 to speak to a member of our team.

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