Keys to a Successful Claim
How To Raise A Strong Construction Defect Claim: 5 Keys To Success
Construction defects can be extremely costly, particularly when they involve multiple homeowners or condominium owners. When a community association gets involved, the stakes are often high. Pursuing these claims in an efficient, effective manner requires a thoughtful approach. Here are some tips for success.
1. Get Legal Help From A Knowledgeable Attorney
Construction defect claims can be extremely complicated. Not many Florida attorneys focus on this niche area, and fewer still are board-certified in construction law through The Florida Bar, as is one of our principal attorneys at Tannenbaum Scro.
We can guide you through all steps in the process, from investigating potential claims to pursuing presuit notice to filing a claim in court, if necessary. And the sooner we get involved, the more opportunities we have to build the strongest possible case.
2. Identify Defects As Soon As Possible
Time limits apply for bringing construction defect claims. Depending on the situation, the clock generally starts ticking:
- After a certain number of units are sold
- After developer turnover
- After completion of the project (for repairs, renovations or remediation)
Unfortunately, not all defects are noticeable to the untrained eye. That’s why it’s so important to have a thorough, independent inspection during the turnover process and after the completion of any work.
Which brings us to the next point…
3. Enlist The Right Experts
Construction experts play a big role in defect claims. You need the right expert to identify and investigate defects, which will ensure that the right parties are held responsible. The right expert might be an engineer, architect or another construction professional, depending on the defects involved. This professional should have:
- Strong credentials
- Experience handling the specific type of work involved
- Experience serving as an expert witness
- A respected reputation in the construction industry
- A reputation as an independent expert
Should your claim proceed to litigation, the right expert will be essential for presenting a rock-solid case in court.
4. Document Everything
Meticulous documentation can mean the difference between a successful construction defect claim and a costly failure. The more documentation you have – and the more thorough it is – the better. This means, for example:
- Preparing written condition and inspection reports of the premises
- Taking “before and after” pictures of the work performed
- Having a lawyer vet your construction contracts
- Keeping records of emails and other written communications involving the work
- Making sure that changes to the scope of the work or assurances by the contractor are put in writing (and preferably reviewed by an attorney)
- Having affected owners sign off on the work performed
Every association should have thorough documentation practices in place, particularly when it comes to repair projects and other construction work.
5. Do Your Due Diligence
It’s far better to avoid construction defects in the first place. Owners and associations can go a long way toward minimizing their risk by thoroughly vetting contractors (and other construction professionals) before proceeding.
Our lawyers are very familiar with the Florida construction industry and can help you choose the right professionals for your type of project. We can also negotiate and review construction contracts – a critical step in aligning expectations and reducing the risk of disputes down the road.
For guidance on any aspect of Florida construction defect law, call our legal team at 941-444-9092 (toll-free 866-615-4543) or send us an email. With offices in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Orlando, and Fort Myers, we represent owners and associations throughout southwest/central Florida.