So you found something wrong, (a defect), with the construction on your property. Now what? From the discovery of the defect – the steps you take as the “commercial property owner” or the “residential property owner” to preserve all available evidence and claims against the responsible parties are of paramount importance. Florida law has tedious notice requirements that must be given to the potential defendant before the property owner can file lawsuit for construction related defects. Often times, the required crucial steps that MUST be taken before the suit can be filed, are not known by the property owner. Failure to adhere to Florida’s statutory notice requirements can result in claims of spoliation of evidence or it may even negatively affect the outcome of your care – monetarily!

For example, at least 60 days before a Civil Complaint alleging construction defects can be filed, a property owner MUST serve a written notice of the defect on ALL potentially responsible parties. These parties can include: the general contractor, subcontractor, supplier, third party vender and/or design professional. The notice must describe the claim in reasonable detail sufficient for the party receiving the notice to determine the general nature of each construction defect and a description of the damage or loss resulting from the defect, if it is known. Once the notice is served, the party receiving the notice has 30 days to perform a site inspection of the property to assess each construction defect alleged by the property owner. In turn, the person receiving notice must provide notice to its contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, independent contractors and/or other parties that may potentially be responsible for the defects, so that they may likewise have an opportunity to inspect the property and the defects. To prevent significant disruptions to the property owner – inspections are to be coordinated among the parties – so as to minimize the number of inspections at the property.

Construction defects can quickly sour the joy of moving into a newly built home, newly renovated business or even a condo conversion. However, when the proper steps are taken, the worry and uncertainty of what may occur can be controlled and minimized. It can save you time, money and unnecessary headache. Moreover, the chances for a successful resolution of the matter can be maximized. When faced with
construction defects, it is important to contact an attorney familiar with Florida’s Construction Laws as soon as possible so that any defects are accurately and timely documented and the proper responsible parties are timely placed on notice of the defects. It should also be noted that the provisions within the construction contract executed between the parties are vital to determining a property owner’s responsibilities and obligations under Florida Chapter 558. This Article was written by Attorney, Sommer C. Horton. If you would like additional information about Florida’s Construction Defect laws or if you have questions about the content of this letter, please contact Ms. Horton at 561-299-0018. Or email her at [email protected]