Throughout your career as a contractor, you'll almost certainly encounter at least one claim of a construction defect by a client. In some cases, you may find that there is a simple, low-impact solution, but other claims may require more careful responses.
Larger claims that you cannot settle simply and cheaply necessitate working your way through the legal process of defending yourself against the defect allegations.
Plan a careful response to the claim
One of the most important aspects of settling a claim about your past work is that you want to avoid damaging your reputation in the community. You certainly don't want to respond as if you're ready to start war if that might drive away future customers.
A wise, measured response helps keep things professional, which is a much stronger place to stand when defending the quality of your work or your liability for a particular issue. A client may allege any number of defects, but this does not mean that you actually bear responsibility to fix them.
Proving or disproving liability
If a former client files a construction defect claim against you, he or she must demonstrate that you are responsible for fixing it. You may avoid this burden if:
- The complaint does not arise from a problem with your work
- The issue at hand is not covered in the terms of your construction agreement
- The owner of the property took actions that caused the defect
- Your contract exempts you from liability for the issue
These are only some of the ways that you might defend against construction defect claims. You may also have more personalized defenses available.
What if the claim is valid?
If the claim does carry some validity, seek legal guidance to help you resolve it fairly. This is especially true when it comes to settling the claims with an insurer. It is important that your insurer properly compensates the owner for the claim. Otherwise, you may find yourself liable for further damages. It is far better to let the insurer cover the entirety if possible.
Whatever your construction defect conflict may involve, an attorney can help you assess your strongest defense options and protect your rights throughout the process.