The Florida Construction Defect Statute
A construction project that did not go right is frustrating for all sides. Before property owners take any legal action against a developer, construction company, contractor or any other involved party, there are some strict requirements that must be followed under Florida law. Failure to do so can put legal rights in jeopardy. Conversely, contractors also have legal obligations after they are notified of a construction defect. If you are involved a construction-related dispute, please contact an experienced West Palm Beach construction litigation attorney for immediate legal help.
Property Owners Must Give Notice and Opportunity to Repair
Before filing any legal claim, and ideally before signing an agreement, both property owners and construction contractors should understand their obligations under Florida law. Before a lawsuit can be brought for a construction defect, Chapter 558 requires that property owners:
- Give all relevant parties written notice of any defects;
- Identify the precise location of all defects, so that the contractor can find them without undue burden; and
- Allow the responsible party a chance to repair the construction defect or offer fair settlement compensation.
Construction Contractors Need to Know How to Respond
- Identify subcontractors and suppliers: Modern construction projects are complicated. There are often many different parties involved in each aspect of the process. If there are subcontractors and suppliers involved, they may have had a part in the construction defect. Once the lead contractor receives notice of the defect from the property owner, they will need to make sure that all relevant downstream parties are identified and notified. If subcontractors and suppliers are not notified in a timely manner, the lead contractor risks ending up on the hook for their mistake.
- Inspect the alleged defect: The lead contractor should conduct a full inspection of the alleged construction defect. This should include taking extensive photographs as well as all other relevant non-intrusive forms of testing to learn more about the issue. Maybe the defect will be obvious, minor and repairable or maybe there will be a dispute about whether or not a defect exists at all. In some cases, destructive testing will be needed.
- Destructive testing: When destructive testing is required, the issue often gets especially complicated. Contractors should not engage in any destructive testing without notifying the property owner as to the timing and precise purpose of the testing. Permission should generally be granted before moving forward. Many property owners will prefer to decline permission for any destructive tests, but by doing this, they may be putting their rights at risk. If there is any dispute about conducting destructive testing in your case, you should contact an experienced construction litigation attorney immediately.
- Make a final determination:, A final determination must be made by the contractor. After review of, and testing of, the alleged defect the contractor needs to know who will be repairing the defect, if anyone. It is important to follow all legal protocols and to stay organized. In the event that litigation arises that will help you make a strong legal case.
Contact An Experienced West Palm Beach Construction Litigation Attorney
It is vital that you understand your duties under Florida law. The experienced construction litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig, LLP can help. We proudly serve businesses in Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties. Please contact our office today to schedule a free legal consultation.