Florida has two statutes that limit the time in which a claim can be made for damages caused by a defect in construction. The first such limit is the statute of limitation.
Most construction company owners in Florida understand that the statute of limitation requires that a claim for a defect in construction work must be commenced within four years after the substantial completion of the work that is alleged to be defective.
The statute that sets this deadline also requires that the party claiming damage as the result of the defect provide written notice to the contractor at least 60 days prior to commencing the lawsuit. The state’s statute of repose is not so well understood.
How does the statute of limitation work?
The Florida statute of limitation requires that a claim alleging defect in a construction project must be made within 4 years after completion of the contractor’s work. (The period is 10 years for claims arising out of latent defects.)
For example, a claim for a defect in electrical work must be brought within 4 years after completion of the contractor’s work, even if the work on the project continues.
Moreover, the party alleging the existence of the defect must give written notice of the defect to the contractor at least 60 days before the lawsuit is begun.
What is the statute of repose?
The statute of repose also imposes a time limit on claims for defects in construction. In this case, the limit is 10 years from the date on which the project was substantially completed.
The big difference between the statute of limitation and the statute of repose is that the statutory limitation period applies only to individual claims, whereas the statute of repose applies to all claims that may be brought for defects in a single project.
Once the repose period has expired for a given project, no claims can be made alleging defects in the construction of that project.
What kind of action by the owner will satisfy the deadline?
In 2019, the Florida legislature amended the deadlines to require that the notice of claim, even in timely served on the contractor, will not satisfy the statute of limitation or repose.
The lawsuit must be commenced within the 4-year or 10-year period, whichever is applicable.
Anyone considering making a claim for a construction defect must take great care to act within the statutory deadlines.
The advice of an experienced construction attorney can be an enormous help in avoiding a destructive mistake.