Proposed laws may impact owners’ rights with construction defects

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2022 | Construction Law |

In Florida, one of the most costly and worrisome issues that homeowners face is if there are repairs that must be done. Obviously, for safety sake, it is a necessity to fix problems as they arise. However, when the damage or breakdown is a result of shoddy construction work, then the builders and contractors are expected to cover for it if it happens within a certain number of years. Construction defects are not the fault of the owner.

Currently, the law reflects that and there is a specified amount of time for which repairs must be made without the owner footing the bill for what is a misstep on the part of those who built the structure. Under the statute of repose, repairs must be made within 10 years. Still, legal changes are often proposed and two recent bills could alter the amount of time people are granted to get construction defects repaired. People should be aware of this and know their current and possibly their future rights when dealing with these situations.

Laws could mean fundamental changes to construction defect repair

Property managers and owners are expressing worry about two newly proposed bills made by Florida lawmakers that would drastically lower how long builders are responsible for repairing construction defects. With these bills, the builder will no longer be obligated to fix hidden, structural defects if they are found either seven years or five years after construction. Each bill has a different time-frame. Before, there were 15 years. Later, it was reduced to 10 years. According to statements made during committee meetings, the lawmakers want to prevent people from filing unnecessary lawsuits and reduce insurance claims builders face.

While this would benefit the building industry and is being strongly advocated by builders and developers, others are expressing doubt that it will be a positive decision to pass one of these bills. Since many defects take years to manifest, the shortened amount of time for builders to be held responsible could place homeowners at risk of increased cost, not to mention danger from shoddy workmanship. The law was in place to protect homeowners and make sure builders do not cut corners knowing that eventually, there would be problems with the structure. Not only might this be problematic for residential homeowners, but commercial properties could also be impacted – some of which could be dangerous to entire communities if the worst-case scenario comes to pass and something like a building collapse happens where there are chemicals stored.

Construction defects should be addressed immediately

Although this is only in the early stages and the new law – whichever one is brought up for a vote – might not come into effect, these are still key issues for property owners to think about. The law states when repairs must be done once construction defects are found. Often, owners are unaware of them and are taken advantage of. It is important to be fully protected. Discussing a case with those who are experienced in real estate, construction, contracts and addressing problems can be crucial to come to a positive resolution.