Unfortunately, construction defects are all too common. According to the Florida statute, a construction defect is defined as a deficiency either in the design, surveying, specifications, planning, observation of construction, supervision, construction repair, alteration or remodeling of property. A construction defect can either be a problem or an error that you discover in the work that was done on your home (or another building that you own). The issues can include workmanship, materials, engineering, design, etc.
Many different types of contracts may be involved in a situation with construction defects, such as contracts between a homeowner and developer, homeowner and contractors/subcontractors, homeowner and suppliers (or engineers or architects), other people who happen to be involved with the building(s) that you own. It is quite common for a homeowner to initiate a lawsuit if they discover some sort of construction defect.
If I need to sue, what are the potential grounds?
There are many different grounds that you can use in your lawsuit, if you feel that you need to sue. Some of the more common ones are negligence, breach of contract, breach of warranty, fraud (also known as negligent misrepresentation) and strict liability. Let’s look at each one in more detail.
- Negligence: When it comes to the construction process, people who are involved with construction work have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care as they are working. It may not be so easy to prove if a construction worker is not exercising reasonable care but it is not impossible to prove. This idea is extended to all people who have the potential to be hurt as a result of the defect. That not only includes you as the owner but it also includes any future owners as well. It applies well into the future if the defect is not fixed.
- Breach of contract: This means that if whatever is written in the contract goes against whatever happened, that is a possible breach of contract. If you are at the point where you are suing the contractor for breach of contract, the chances are good that it is not a minor issue. The outcome of the suit may have a lot to do with the effort that the contractor made while they were working on your building. For example, if they did the best that they could to complete the work on the building wholly and went according to what was written in the contract, that will be taken into consideration by the judge.
- Breach of warranty: This means that the warranty that was supposed to be honored was not. That applies if the property had warranties regarding the condition that the property was in. Not only is the contractor responsible for what is in the contract but they are also responsible for what is implied in the contract as well as taking reasonable care.
- Strict liability claims: In such a case, the property owner is not responsible for proving that the contractor or the developer behaved negligently. What the property owner does need to prove is that a defect exists in the house, that some damage or injury occurred as a result of the defect and that the contractor or developer either caused or created the defect.
- Fraud: This means that someone intentionally lied about the construction’s quality. There may have been false statements made or false advertisements. This may be difficult to win. You would need to prove that the contractor/developer never intended to follow the agreed-upon design and specifications.
- Negligent misrepresentation: In such a situation, the developer promised something to the homeowner knowing that it wasn’t true.
Making sure that your rights are protected
If you have had a similar experience with a construction defect, you must understand your rights and put your best foot forward so that you achieve what is fair and just. Not only do you need to get what you deserve but you also need to be in a home that is safe and solid. As difficult as it is to do the right thing sometimes, it is what needs to be done so that you can move on to a brighter future.