In the construction industry, there are many moving parts that go into the completion of a project. Everyone, from the general contractor and subcontractors to the architects, engineers and suppliers, must be careful to comply with agreed-upon specifications and building codes. When a supply chain issue calls for a substitution of materials to meet an approaching deadline, this can also create problems when the owner complains about construction defects.
Understanding how Florida law can protect you against liability claims is key to avoiding costly and unnecessary litigation. For construction industry professionals in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the Sunshine State, it is important to know where to find effective assistance with the resolution of construction issues even before a dispute arises.
What is Florida’s Right to Repair Act?
Under Florida Statute 558, also known as the Right to Repair Act, contractors, construction companies, and design professionals have protection from immediate civil action over construction defect claims.
When the owner has a complaint, under law, they must allow the construction professional the opportunity to correct the defect before filing a lawsuit. Not only does this minimize time-consuming and expensive litigation but it also reduces the load on the over-burdened state court system.
The property owner must file written notice to the construction entity 60 days before taking legal action. The other party then has the opportunity to inspect the project and make necessary corrections to resolve the issue.
They may then submit a proposal for the repair of the defect or offer compensation, which the owner may accept or reject. However, if ,on inspection, the responsible party does not agree with the owner’s complaint, they may dispute it.
What problems can lead to a construction defect claim?
While construction defects claims may arise out of local or state compliance issues, many have to do with problems that the property owner does not detect for some time, such as:
- Flawed architectural design.
- Improper inspection.
- Structural integrity issues, such as foundation cracks, settling, or carpentry defects.
- Electrical flaws.
- Water intrusion or heat or cold protection problems.
Although it is better to resolve disputes before they end up in court, it is also important to be prepared if a claim does go through. The claimant must prove negligence, breach of contract or warranty, or fraud for the lawsuit to be successful.
In Florida, a claimant must bring action within 4 years of the date that they took possession, the date of issuance of a certificate of occupancy, or the date of completion or termination, with exceptions for latent or hidden defects.