Timeframes for Construction Warranties

Alexander_BarthetCPVC Class Action Litigation, CPVC Construction Defect Suit

statutory-timeframes-photoIf you’re called back to a condominium job for a warranty claim, knowing the applicable deadlines can make all the difference. Generally, one has 3 years from the date of completion to bring a condominium warranty claim in Florida, although there are exceptions and other rules that may come into play depending on the actual circumstances surrounding the claim.

Many of these condominium defects may be latent – hidden or concealed such that they are not apparent from routine inspection, for example, a leaky pipe inside a wall. In cases based on latent defects, the discovery rule applies – owners must file suit within 3 years of the date the defect is discovered or should have been discovered.

In addition, Florida requires any claim based on the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property to be brought within 10 years. Called the “statute of repose”, the 10-year limit is an absolute bar to filing a claim regardless of the cause of action. Since construction claims can arise decades after a project’s completion, the statute serves to limit the time in which claims can be brought.

Finally, a common source of confusion is the 1-year repair or “callback” period in standard construction contracts. This is a contract provision that requires the owner to notify the contractor of a defect and provide that contractor an opportunity to fix or repair his/her work. If the owner fails to provide this notice, or hires another contractor, the owner cannot charge the original contractor the cost of these repairs. Some mistake the repair period for the general 1-year warranty on construction work, after which the owner cannot bring a claim. This is not the case. The callback period is simply a chance to fix or repair defective work, but it does not prevent the owner from bringing other warranty claims that may arise.

If you’re called back to a job for a warranty claim, be sure to review the applicable deadlines and determine if you’re actually on the hook for making the required repairs.