A Look at Florida’s Construction Defects Statute
Construction Defects Happen
Construction defects are germane to the building industry. Defects can arise from bad workmanship, manufacturer defects within the components or they can even arise from the builder choosing incompatible parts. Due to the specialized nature of construction work, what seems like a minor detail can grow to have a huge impact on the construction project. To complicate the matter, there are different ways defects can show up. Defects that are patent are easily recognizable and identifiable. On the other hand, latent defects can go undetectable or do not become detectable until it has grown into a larger problem. Construction defects can become quite burdensome depending on the type and severity of the defect. Property owners must have mechanisms in their contract to protect themselves should a defect arise. To help alleviate some of this burden, Florida has mandated that parties include a certain contractual provision in their contracts as it relates to construction defects.
Florida’s Notice of Claim Provision
Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes is a statute of repose governing construction defects claims. It requires all parties contracting over residential and commercial construction projects include a Notice of Claim clause within the agreement. Pursuant to Chapter 558, a property owner must wait 60 days before bringing any legal action. Within that time frame, the owner must send the other party a written notice of the specifics regarding the alleged defects. The notice must provide the other party the opportunity to inspect the alleged construction defects. In addition, the property owner has the right to request that the other party make an offer to repair or pay for the alleged construction defect. The property owner must keep in mind that they are not obligated under Chapter 558 to accept any offer. This entire process follows a strict deadline to which the parties must adhere. If the parties cannot reach an agreement within the allotted time period, the aggrieved party is free to pursue a lawsuit.
Pros and Cons of Chapter 558
From a policy standpoint, Chapter 558 is an effective way of keeping defect claims out of the courts by allowing individuals the room to resolve their own issues. Courts see utility in creating laws that reduce in-court claims. In effect, Chapter 558 creates a dispute resolution mechanism much like arbitration or mediation, thus giving the parties power to reach the most mutually beneficial resolution. At the same time, Chapter 558 is not without fault. One can imagine a scenario where a contractor can take advantage of an uninformed property owner in the contractor’s effort to resolve the defect. Still, the threat of legal recourse serves as encouragement for contractors to provide the best service possible–if a defect actually exists. Whatever the outcome of a Chapter 558 negotiation, the statute provides parties with an avenue to resolve their construction disputes.
Florida Construction Defects Attorney
Sweeney Law, P.A. is well-versed in construction defects litigation and the requirements under Florida Statutes Chapter 558. If you are the subject of a Chapter 558 claim or you have discovered a defect, call us now. Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney has years of experience guiding clients through the pre-suit notice of claim process and any subsequent defects litigation. Contact us now for a consultation.