Ideally, you’ll never have to ask this question of an attorney — but that’s probably unlikely. The longer you’re in business, the more inevitable it is that a lawsuit from an unhappy client is going to happen. That makes it prudent to understand what makes you liable for a problem with a building and what doesn’t.
Here are some potential defenses to a construction defect claim:
You fulfilled your contract perfectly. You can’t be expected to be a mind reader. You shouldn’t be responsible for a problem when your client asked for one thing and then expected something else. If you followed the plans and specifications related to the contract and documented change orders, you did what was expected.
The problem is unrelated to any construction defect. Mold, plumbing leaks and electrical problems are often part of claims — but those things can be caused by poor maintenance and abuse just as often as they are a defect in the design or build.
The defect is another party’s responsibility. Architects aren’t necessarily liable for shoddy workmanship, for example. Builders shouldn’t be held liable for poor designs that they had no hand in drafting.
The warranty expired. There are limits to how long you can be exposed to liability over a construction defect. Florida’s laws regarding this issue are somewhat complex, allowing for either a four-year or ten-year warranty.
When faced with a claim for a construction defect, every builder has to weigh their choices carefully. Sometimes, it may be simpler and less costly to do the repairs. Other times, the stakes are simply too high. Find out more about your legal options today.