Construction Defect

What Are Construction Defects?

Generally, construction defects can consist of any deficiency in a construction project, ranging from an architectural design defect to improper construction.

Legally speaking, “construction defect” is a deficiency arising out of, the design, specifications, surveying, planning, supervision, or construction, repair, alteration, of real property resulting from:

  • Defective material, products, or components used in the construction;
  • A violation of construction codes;
  • Failure of the design to meet professional standards; or
  • A failure to construct real property within accepted trade standards.

“Real property” means land that is improved and the improvements on the land, including fixtures, manufactured housing, or mobile homes, and excluding public transportation projects. Florida Statute §558.002(5)-(8).

There are two types of construction defects: patent or latent. Patent defects are defects that are readily obvious; they should be found by the contractor or subcontractor during normal inspections. Latent defects are not readily observable and are the result of defects either below the surface or behind material and therefore they usually end up more costly and problematic.

Construction defects can range from minor inconsequential defects, such as falling short of owner’s expectations, to major structural defects that have the potential to harm the property or individuals. Whichever the scenario our Florida attorneys at RAK Law Firm can help with disputes that arise from construction defects.

What Causes Construction Defects?

Construction defects can be caused by materials failing, designs failing, or (the most thought of) workmanship failing. Material defects are defects that arise from damaged building material. An example of a material defect might be a crack in a steel beam, which raises questions about its structural integrity.

A design defect is due to the architect’s or engineer’s failure to produce accurate construction documents, which then may lead to catastrophic failures in the structure. If a design company has caused the design defect, the individual designer can be excused from liable under certain circumstances, but it is more likely that the design company itself will be held liable. Fla. Stat. §558.0035(1).

Finally, workmanship defects are not the fault of the material, or the design, but rather from the contractor or subcontractor failing to perform their work adequately. The cause of this defect occurs when a contractor or subcontractor fails to properly build a component of the project in accordance with the construction documents. It is a defect in the process of combining the materials and the design. One example of a workmanship defect might be the mistake of an electrician who wires a house poorly to the extent that light switches don’t work.

How to Avoid Construction Defects

There are always certain proactive measures everyone can take to decrease the likelihood of a construction defect.

Reviewing the construction contract for its terms and policy coverage can help prevent blame being shifted. The contract should assign accountability and confirm that everyone is responsible for their own work. When looking over the contract, it is best to have an attorney who specializes in business/construction litigation, like the attorneys at RAK Law Firm. However, if one does not have the resources, they should look for provisions concerning liability and responsibility to see if the defect risk shifts to any underserving parties.

Another way to avoid construction defects would be to implement quality control program to ensure that quality does not fall below a certain standard. This program should begin at the beginning of the project, meet regularly, and make site assessments. With a designated group to assess the site and give a weekly, or even better, daily report, it would be easy to detect defects in the construction process. The quality control group could also perform regular maintenance as defects can arise from poor maintenance over time.

In any case involving construction, it is extremely important to act quickly. If there is a defect that has been found contact the owner or general contractor as soon as possible. Then, as a collective, you can determine what is the best solution for your construction defect problem. If the defect causes a dispute between parties, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney at RAK Law Firm who can help fight for your rights.

What Is the Time Limit for Filing Suit for Construction Defects?

In Florida, the statute of limitations for construction defects starts when the date of actual possession by the owner and runs for ten years. Fla. Stat. §95.11(3)(b). However, if the construction defect is latent (meaning it was not readily observable), then the statute of limitations starts from the times the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence and then one for ten years. §95.11(3)(b). Once the ten years has passed nobody can bring a lawsuit against the parties responsible for the damages.

How to Resolve Construction Defects

According to Florida Statute §558.004, the claimant (person who claims they have been wronged) shall give at least 60 days before filing a lawsuit. This extended notice was put in place to encourage the parties to have enough time to negotiate before the actual filing of the lawsuit. So it is in the best interests of all parties to try to negotiate before a lawsuit in an attempt to be as efficient as possible.

Construction defects can be resolved with an attorney through preliminary negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or litigation. Litigation is the most formal and predominate measure, but can also come with a lengthy process, whereas preliminary negotiations can be simple, effective, and short. The right type of legal action depends on the parties and the circumstances of the case. The Florida attorneys at RAK Law Firm can look over all the circumstances and give the best legal advice for your situation.

In Florida, the attorneys of RAK Law Firm are reputable construction defect lawyers who fight for their client’s rights, as well as offering a myriad of other legal services. If you have any questions or concerns arising from a construction defect, please do not hesitate to contact us at (407)-437-0319.

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