Can You Sue a Contractor for Construction Defects?

When you’re purchasing a new home, Florida state law mandates that the builder testify that the home was built to code, with quality materials. As a buyer, you are entitled to buy a home that is habitable. In legal terms, this is called an implied warranty of fitness. The same is true when general contractors work on existing homes. They are required to provide reasonably high-quality work.

workers on a construction site

If, after purchasing the home, it is discovered that the builder or general contractor was negligent in their duties, you may be able to bring a construction defect claim against the company. This article will discuss some general details about your rights and how to sue a contractor in Florida.

What Details Can I Find in the New Home Purchase Agreement?

If you are in the process of purchasing a new home, one of the most important things that you will need to understand is the contract between you and your prospective home builder. The contract is typically referred to as a purchase agreement. This is a legally binding agreement that spells out all terms and conditions between you and your builder. This document will cover such matters as: 

  • The purchase price
  • The amount due for expenses within a certain amount of time after closing
  • Who gets the title to your home
  • How much money you pay your builder each year
  • The contractor’s payment schedule
  • The builder’s warranty
  • Building permits and local building codes, and any other pertinent details

In addition to this, your contract will also detail the rights and responsibilities of the builder and contractor. For example, how should repairs be paid? How much should the builder charge me? These are all important details that must be included in the contract. This document plays an extremely important role in how you can recover losses if the home has significant defects or construction deficiencies.

What Recourse Do I Have Against a Home Builder? 

If you are unsatisfied with the contractor’s performance, you may have cause for action. To do this, you will need to write a statement outlining your problem with the contractor. Once you have made your written claim, you may consider suing the general contractor. Before you do so, you should talk to an attorney.

In order to be allowed to sue a general contractor in Florida, you need to show that there is clearly an issue with the construction. For instance, if a hole appears in the roof after a moderate rainstorm. This could be an example of shoddy workmanship or the contractor using inferior materials to cut corners.

There are several steps that a general contractor must follow to ensure that they do not violate any state laws. Knowing what these laws are will help you learn how to sue a contractor in Florida if there is a safety or defect issue.

What are Common Reasons to Sue a Contractor? 

Unfortunately, many construction companies are willing to cut corners in order to save money, and these mistakes quickly become liabilities for the company, the subcontractors that they have worked with, and the homebuyer. These are some of the most common reasons to sue construction contractors:

  • The contractor used defective materials — Defective materials can lead to a whole host of troubles. They could cause issues such as water leaks that cause mold, mildew, or even foundation cracks.
  • The contractor provided shoddy workmanship — Inexperienced workers may not have the skills to do the job right. If the contractor knew this but didn’t check their employee’s work, they could be deemed negligent for poor workmanship.
  • The contractor violated building codes — If building codes are violated, it could set up an extremely dangerous situation. Not only are they negligent but they are also likely to go to great lengths to avoid making sure that they don’t get in trouble for construction-related mistakes.

In order to avoid these problems from occurring, you need to make sure that your contractor plans, designs, and builds each part correctly. This will be the best way to avoid construction problems. If you do suspect that workmanship is poor, you should have it inspected by a third-party construction professional.

What to Expect When Taking a Contractor to Court

The Florida Construction Defect Statute was put in place to help protect consumers against construction defects and shoddy workmanship. The text lays out the procedures that should be followed to remedy a claim against a contractor before bringing the case to court.

Before filing a contractor lawsuit, the parties are obligated to attend mediation services to try to settle the case out of court. During mediation, a third-party mediator will help negotiate the terms of a settlement and correct alleged deficiencies. However, if mediation fails, your attorney may decide to proceed with a defective construction lawsuit. 

If the case proceeds to the courtroom, your attorney will help prepare you for what to expect. During the trial, each side will present their evidence which could include expert testimony, physical evidence, and other statements. Most cases, though, will never find their way to a courtroom. Contractors prefer to settle out of court whenever possible to avoid the many issues it can bring to their businesses.

Are Contractors Required to Carry Liability Insurance in Florida?

Florida law regarding general contractors can be a complex area to navigate. However, every general contractor must carry liability insurance. This kind of insurance is important because it covers the contractor for injuries or property damage resulting from work performed on your site. Liability insurance also covers negligence by the contractor and/or employees.

Can I Sue an Unlicensed Contractor in Florida?

Unless the contractor presented you with fraudulent proof that they were licensed, you will likely have no recourse against an unlicensed contractor in Florida. This is because it was illegal for them to be doing the work in the first place. If you knew they were unlicensed, the law says you should bear the responsibility if things go wrong.

How Can I Protect Myself From Unlicensed Contractors?

To protect yourself against unlicensed contractors, you should always check their license status on Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) site. The site can tell you if they are properly licensed to do the work you need to be done. It will also show you alternate business names and any complaints against the business.

When Should I Hire a Construction Defect Attorney?

The best course of action is to get in contact with an experienced construction defect attorney as soon as you notice an issue. If you try to sort it out with the contractor, you could find yourself dealing with a lot of headaches. To avoid getting the run-around, let your attorney do the speaking. 

At the law firm of Darrigo & Diaz, we have expertise in representing clients in personal injury cases. We’ve been serving the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years and successfully recovered millions for our clients. We can provide a free consultation where we will discuss your case in confidence. For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case, contact us 24/7 by calling (813) 774-3341 to discuss your legal options right over the phone.

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