Construction Defect Lawyers
Construction defects can take many different forms and lead to serious problems in residences, business and other structures throughout South Florida.
Negligence by the parties responsible for a construction project, in whole or in part, can lead to severe harm, including:
- Water leaks or other types of water intrusion into the structure, including through a defective roof, poorly sealed windows and other points of entry
- Mold from improperly sealed surfaces or water intrusion
- Toxic substances introduced into the environment because of defective installation or use of the wrong materials
- Electrical defects
- Structural defects, including unsound roofs, walls and floors
- Cracked or unstable foundations
- Any other defects that compromise the structural integrity or use of the building
If you have been harmed as a result of construction defects, the tenacious and experienced Miami construction defect attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano will fight to preserve and enforce your rights. Our law firm has fought for our clients' interests for more than 30 years.
There are many different people who may be involved in a construction project. These include:
- General contractors
- Supply companies
- Design professionals such as architects and engineers
If there has been a problem with the construction, there are specific steps that the property owner must take in order to preserve his right to bring a negligence action against the wrongdoers. Pursuant to Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes, the property owner must send written notice about the defects to the individuals involved in the construction project. This notice then triggers a complex set of responses that require careful navigation in order to ensure the opportunity for justice at the end of the process.
The notice and legal action process involves the following:
- The property owner must send notice of the defect to the responsible parties at least 60 days before commencing any legal action to recover for damages — there must be proper service of this notice. For a property with 20 or more units, the notice must be at least 120 days
- After the notice is received, the recipient has 45 days to respond to the allegations of defect. Allegations of defect involving a property with at least 20 units mean that the recipient of the notice has 75 days to respond to the notice. When the alleged wrongdoer responds, he must offer to correct the defects that are the subject of the notice, propose a monetary settlement, deny the claim, or provide the terms under which an insurance payment will be made
- When the contractor, subcontractor, or other party responds, he may request a time to inspect the property and perform testing on the nature of the defects. The individual alleged to be responsible for the defects also may have the right to request certain documents relating to the legal action
- While the legal action is pending, the property owner has the right to make the property as safe as possible by making emergency repairs — these actions must be undertaken to protect the safety, welfare and health of the individuals who are living in or using the property
There is a lot of discussion about the relatively recent provision in Florida Statute Chapter 558 and the contractor's right to repair the defect. Pursuant to this provision, if the owner does not provide the right to repair, then he will not be able to maintain a legal action. However, this provision only applies to properties constructed after October 2009.
Types Of Defects
There are two types of defects in construction, which are:
- Patent — These are defects that are readily observable
- Latent — These are defects that can be detected through testing or other means, but are not readily ascertainable through the use of a person's five senses
The nature of the defects dictates how long a property owner has to bring a claim under Florida law. If there are patent defects, a property owner has four years to bring a legal action while latent defects provide for up to 15 years for a person to file a legal action. The reason for the differences in filing periods is that patent defects are considered more readily discoverable. If there are any suspected defects, it is important to get an inspection to evaluate the structural integrity of the building, as well as any other potential problems. In order to maintain a legal action, it is not only necessary to demonstrate that there is a defect attributable to a particular party, but that the defect led to actual harm.
Another important time period to remember is 10 years. This is the length of time that a person has to bring a suit after taking possession of a property or obtaining a certificate of occupancy.
If the right to repair provision of Chapter 558 does not apply to the types of defect, then the property owner must turn to the courts for relief. These cases are complex and it is important to get the assistance of an attorney in order to determine if the case can be successful. Some important things to consider are:
- The nature of the defect
- The harm that is caused by the defect
- The cost of repair
- The capacity of the defendant to be able to pay for any repairs or make a monetary settlement
Certain types of defects will not be actionable against the contractor, including when the problems are caused by defective materials rather than negligence in the construction process. If the property owner is successful in a legal action against the contractor or other party, the contractor will have to pay the legal judgment. In addition, the legal action might result in disciplinary actions being taken against the contractor, which impacts his license and ability to work in the state.
There are problems relating to the construction of residences, apartments, businesses and other structures that are brought as part of a breach of contract claim. Skilled construction defect attorneys will work with property owners to evaluate the nature of the damage that was done, how it impacts the value and use of the premises and how the harm can be remedied. Part of the process requires the use of experts to obtain estimates of how much the repairs would cost. The repair estimates should include the nature of the repairs, whether the work includes any code upgrades and whether there has to be any design modifications to accommodate the repairs.
Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Offer A Free Initial Consultation
Construction defect cases must be handled properly in order to ensure that the property owner gets the right outcome. The South Florida construction defect attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano have more than 130 years of collective experience in getting our clients the results that they deserve. We have received an "AV" rating from the peer rating organization Martindale-Hubbell* in recognition of the work that we do to represent the interests of individuals who have been harmed through the negligence of others. Our attorneys also have been voted as "South Florida's Top Rated Lawyers" by the Miami Herald.