The population growth in Central Florida in recent years has had major implications for the real estate market. There has been a surge of commercial and residential real estate construction for single family housing, multi-family units and commercial businesses, bringing with it a myriad of possibilities for construction defects and subsequent litigation. Construction defects are deficiencies in the building process which can result in costly damage to the property or can put the inhabitants of the property at risk for personal injury. A construction defect can be a serious issue or it can be a matter of just not meeting the buyer’s expectations. Lawsuits for construction defects can be a lengthy and costly process and multiple parties can be held liable for damages. Restitution may include the costs of repairs, property devaluation, loss of use, court costs and attorney fees. In some cases there can be fines for gross negligence paid to the state and suspension of professional licenses. A plaintiff can file a negligence claim if there were personal injuries as a direct result of the construction defect. For negotiation, mediation and litigation of claims, a knowledgeable attorney is invaluable on your path to a successful resolution. Attorney Benjamin Shane Boutty has been representing clients in construction and business law, for over 20 years. He is well versed in all aspects of construction defect law, as he is a state certified contractor as well as a construction law attorney, a professor and has owned several construction companies.
What Constitutes a Construction Defect?
Construction defects can be the result of design deficiencies, workmanship issues or material defects and often, they are a combination of all the following;
- A design deficiency is the failing of the architects and engineers to follow State of Florida building codes in the design of a project, usually occurring by error or omission. An example may be a poorly designed roof that causes leaks and mold damage.
- Workmanship issues can be either aesthetic concerns or they can be a structural integrity problems. An aesthetic issue can usually be repaired quite easily, whereas a structural integrity problem may not be easily seen until major damage has occurred, such as cracks in the foundation of the building or unstable load bearing walls.
- Material deficiencies are defects that arise due to damaged materials or inferior products delivered by the manufacturer or the contractor using improper building materials. Examples can be inferior dry wall that cracks, roofing shingles that leak or faulty electrical wiring that can result in a fire.
Patent defects in a building are ones that are obvious upon inspection. Latent defects in construction are those that are not easily seen, which are usually more damaging and problematic. In the State of Florida, the statute of limitations for patent construction defects is four years after the defect is discovered, or ten years for latent construction defects.
Be Proactive in Communication and Documentation to Minimize Liability
To prevent and mitigate construction defect liability, it is important for those professionals in the construction industry to be proactive by having a quality control measure in place. This requires frequent and diligent review of plans and site assessments. Frequently inspecting the project and keeping detailed records of the construction progress is needed evidence in the event of future litigation. Home buyers are entitled to a builder’s warranty with the purchase contract which establishes the buyer’s rights and protections.
The Boutty Law Firm, in Winter Park, Florida, represents both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of construction defect disputes. Our clients are property owners, material suppliers, architects, home owner associations, general contractors, developers and construction companies. If you are the owner of a property that is claiming damages or a business owner that is being named in a lawsuit, we can negotiate or mediate your dispute for an effective solution or be your advocate in court. Call the Boutty Law Firm for a consultation to discuss your unique situation.