A building defect arises when a building element, component, material or finish fails to meet its performance requirements. These performance requirements vary from element to element and so building defects can vary in urgency and severity. Cracking in walls, water ingress or dampness, and structural movement are all symptoms of building defects that most people recognise and are familiar with.
At some stage in their lifespan, all buildings suffer from defects to one degree or another. Even implementing the most thorough regime of maintenance cannot guarantee that defects will not arise if, for example, the building has been constructed in a way that is inherently defective, or if changes occur in the conditions affecting the building that are beyond the control of those responsible for its care.