Delon Hampton provides a useful summary of latent and patent construction defects. This is a critical analysis for construction litigation as a claimant has as many as ten years from the date of completion to sue for latent defects while only four for patent ones.
The case involved a stairway at a train station that was too narrow with a handrail that was too low. The court recognized that a defectively secured handrail was latent because the defect was not readily apparent. Whether a stairway is narrow or a handrail too low is apparent, even if most people would not recognize the problem.
Builders and developers appreciate these statutes of repose as they provide some closure once four or ten years elapse from substantial completion. The analysis, however, can often be subtle even when matters are right in front of your eyes.