Proposed law could reduce time for construction defect lawsuits

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2023 | Construction Law |

Construction defects are a concern for construction companies and property owners, whether it is a commercial or residential project in Florida. They can invite dispute, hard feelings, damage a business’s reputation and be financially problematic for all involved.

In general, the parties want to resolve these issues amicably. Many times, the company makes the repairs without incident. However, there are times when legal steps are necessary. Recently, a proposed law could alter the amount of time available to file a lawsuit about construction defects. Those starting a project or who have one in progress should know how this could impact them.

Proposal would change the timeframe to file a construction defect claim

According to the lawmaker who has sponsored the proposal, the objective is to address affordable housing in Florida. Those who advocate for its passage say it will benefit contractors by lowering the chance of lawsuits and decrease their insurance payments. Those who are against it say people whose property has a construction defect will need to pay for it if they do not discover it in time.

The proposal was overwhelmingly approved by the subcommittee. There were prior bills like this in 2022, but they didn’t pass. A concern about the proposal is how defects that do not appear immediately—“latent” defects—will be addressed. Currently, property owners have 10 years to file a claim for latent defects. If the new proposal is passed, the statute of limitations would be 7 years.

Understandably, contractors are in favor of this because they say they are often subjected to frivolous claims or allegations of defects that are not actually defects. This could be a problem for property owners as many defects take time to show up and if the window for filing a claim is shortened, they may have to pay the bill.

Professional help with construction defects includes understanding new laws

Although this is still just a proposal and might not become law, construction companies and property owners need to be aware of it as they assess the work that is being done while checking for potential problems. Any construction defect claim can be challenging and it is imperative to have help regardless of the perspective as a builder or as an owner.