What is a Florida Construction Defect or Chapter 588 Claim?

December 14, 2020

A Florida construction defect is when there’s a failure of a building or a part of a building that should have been constructed in a reasonably workmanlike manner that causes damage to the structure.

What are the Most Common Construction Defects in Central and South Florida?

Tampa and the surrounding area get more than 46 inches of rainfall every year. And it’s this precipitation that creates many of the construction defect cases that the experienced Florida construction defect attorneys at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens prosecute.

Poor construction and failure to adequately protect a home against Florida’s heavy rains, storms, and hurricanes—not to mention hot sunshine—can often be directly responsible for damage. Plus, poor construction can lead to mold and mildew, which can cause substantial and expensive damage… and can reduce the value of your home.

Knowing how our weather can expose significant construction flaws, let’s look at the most common construction defects found in Tampa Bay, Central, and South Florida:

Roof issues

A leaky roof is fine until it rains, and remember the 46+ inches of rainfall every year in South Florida? So, you’ll be able to determine fairly fast if you have a construction defect with your roof. The roof is the most important part of your building or home because it protects everything beneath it. Plus, it’s not a repair that you can put off. Homeowners and owners of commercial property who think they have a defective roof should take immediate action to protect their rights and contact the experienced Florida construction defect attorneys at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens.

Facade leaks.

We’ve mentioned the South Florida rain and sun, but we haven’t mentioned what those two elements can produce – high humidity. And this can be a frequent occurrence, which may lead to facade leaks. A faulty design or poor craftsmanship can make your home or building susceptible to serious facade leaks, which frequently are found at or around joints and in exterior walls. However, facade leaks can be extremely difficult to pinpoint, and they can be extremely expensive to repair.

Window issues

Poor window construction can cause major issues, such as serious leaks that will potentially result in major structural damage. A leaking window may require extensive repairs, and in some situations, the entire frame may need to be removed and replaced, which can be costly. Additionally, leaky windows can allow water intrusion that can cause mold problems in the walls and damage the floor and contents of your home or property.

HVAC problems

In South Florida, we need our heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to run efficiently and without issues. A natural part of AC is water condensation, but if you detect moisture on an air conditioning vent, it may be a sign of an improperly installed HVAC system, a roof leak above the duct, or plumbing leak in the ceiling or wall. In addition, if this system isn’t installed correctly, you may have hot and cold spots in certain parts of the building. This may be a sign of a construction defect. Any home, office building, or warehouse with poor ventilation, poor airflow, or that can’t be evenly cooled or heated may have been defectively designed or constructed.

What Does Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes Say about Construction Defect Claims?

Florida Statute Chapter 558 is called the “Construction Defect Statute.” It was enacted to try to decrease the number of construction defect lawsuits filed in Florida every year.

The statute contains a notice and repair process that gives the contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or design professional (and insurer) a chance to settle a construction defect claim before a lawsuit is filed.

How Do I File A Construction Defect Claim Against A Builder?

Prior to filing an action against a construction company or developer for construction defects, a Florida property owner is required to serve written notice of their claim at least 60 days before the suit will be filed (unless the owner and contractor opted out). This is called a Notice of Claim.

This special process requires the notice to be sent within a set period based on the type of property. Then the construction company that’s alleged to have provided the defective work has the opportunity to inspect the problem and has the “right to cure” or fix the issue.

The contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or designer then has 45 days after receiving the property owner’s notice of claim to respond in writing by making:

  • An offer to fix the defect at no cost to the owner with a detailed description of the required repairs and the time it will take to complete the fix;
  • An offer to make a financial settlement;
  • A combination offer to settle the claim with repairs and payment, with, again a description of the required repairs and a time estimate to complete the repairs;
  • A statement disputing the claim and that there they won’t try to fix the defect or settle the claim; or
  • A statement saying any financial payment will be determined by their insurance company within 30 days after their insurer is notified of the claim.

If the property owner receives a settlement offer, he or she must provide written notice of acceptance or rejection within 45 days after receiving it.

In the event that the contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or designer disputes the owner’s notice of claim or fails to respond to it, the owner can (without any other notice), file a lawsuit.

What Are The Statutes of Limitations For a Florida Construction Defect Claim?

Florida has a four-year time limit to file a construction defect lawsuit, which generally begins four years from that date on which the defect discovered should have been discovered.

If it is a latent defect (and issue that couldn’t have been discovered by a reasonably thorough inspection before the sale), the deadline is 10 years from the completion of the construction. Claims for construction defects must be made during these timeframes or they are waived, even if the defect isn’t discovered until more than 10 years after the project is complete.

Takeaway

Claims for construction defects must follow the exact rules for Notice of Claim and Chapter 588. That’s why you should speak with an experienced Florida construction defect attorney at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens about your issues and the notice and repair process. Our legal team is dedicated to the pursuit of justice for the people we represent.

We have more than 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients who have been injured, wronged, or damaged by the negligence of others. Contact us today!

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