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What Is the Statute of Limitations for Construction Defects?

What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Construction Defects

When you purchase a new property, you should be able to take it on faith that it will be built to standards and free of defects. Unfortunately, sometimes expectations don’t always meet reality and when a builder cuts corners, your property value will suffer.

Fortunately, California law is written in a way that helps protect property buyers in a case of construction defect. To ensure you protect your property and your investment, you need file suit within the applicable time periods for a construction defect case. Here’s a look at the statute of limitations for construction defects.

Overview of the Statute of Limitations

The first element of construction defect statutes of limitation in California are the statutes that provide the general periods of repose, or outside limits to a construction defect claim. These are found in California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 337.1 and 337.15. These statutes provide a four year time period for patent (visible defects) and a 10-year time period for patent (hidden) defects. These time periods generally start to run from the date of substantial completion or first occupancy, and thus apply to new construction. However, other statutes of limitation come into play, especially once the defect is discovered, particularly for latent defects.

Breach of Contract

The statute of limitations for breach of contract in California, such as a contract to purchase a home, is four years. Once a defect is discovered or the owner becomes aware of the breach, an owner would generally have four years from that date in which to file suit against the other party to the contract for the purchase, sale or construction of the property.

Injury or Damage to Real Property

The statute of limitations in California for injury or damage to real property is three years. Once a defect is discovered or the owner becomes aware of the defect, an owner would generally have three years from that date in which to file a lawsuit. This would generally include all claims against any builder, contractor or other person involved with causing the defect and the harm caused by the defect.

Fraud

The statute of limitations in California for fraud is three years from the date the fraud was discovered. Once the fraud is discovered or the owner is on notice and has three years in which to file a lawsuit.

What to Do When You Find a Defect

When you find any sort of defect in construction around your property, the first step you should take is to contact an experienced construction defect attorney. The statutes of limitation are critical to your claim and require the expertise of an attorney to understand and apply to your case. An attorney can help you navigate the law and ensure you take all necessary steps to properly evaluate the claim, the statutes of limitation and to file suit.

Working With a California Construction Defect Attorney

If you have construction defects or are concerned that you may have a construction-related claim, give us a call for a free consultation. At Norton & Associates, we take pride in helping property owners navigate the complex laws that govern construction defect cases. Call today at 310-706-4134. We’re here to help.

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How Long Do Construction Defect Cases Take?

Construction Defect Cases

Discovering construction defects in your property or properties can be extremely frustrating for a homeowner or a homeowners’ association. Even more frustrating can be the process of attempting to get the problems and construction defect claims repaired satisfactorily by the builder. If you fail to remedy the situation with the builder, however, litigation may be your best and only option. But, how long do construction defect cases take? Keep reading to learn more.

How Long Do Construction Defect Cases Take?

According to the Los Angeles Superior Court guidelines, a typical construction defect claim or case filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court can take up to two years. More complex cases can take longer. This process does not take into account settlements, which can considerably shorten the time.

Initial Phase: Identifying the defects and filing the claim

In a typical custom home construction defect matter, where SB-800 does not apply, the homeowner should file a claim as soon as they become aware of serious defects. This may often require an investigation by an experienced construction defect attorney and forensic experts who are experienced in evaluating and identifying the defects that exist, and the scope of the repair, and thus the related damages. The investigation will also look into determining the persons responsible, such as the General Contractor or any subcontractors who will be named in the action.

After the Claim is Filed: Discovery Phase

Once the action is filed, and served on those known to be responsible for the defects, discovery is conducted to further evaluate the defects, and their extent and cost to repair, and the financial viability of the contractors and subcontractors. California law enables parties to a case to discover the existence and limits of policies of insurance that may apply. Many general contractors have insurance which may cover certain defects that have caused property damage, and likewise many subcontractors will have similar policies of insurance. This is valuable information that will guide the litigation process, as well as settlement negotiations.

Settlement & Mediation Phase

Once the scope of the defects and cost of repair has been determined, and a reasonable understanding of the damages is obtained, and the responsible contractors have been brought into the case, the settlement and mediation phase can begin. This phase often involves the use of mediators, many of whom specialize in mediating and settling construction defect claims. These mediators are familiar with the construction insurance policies, the types and nature of various defects, costs of repair and damages. New mediation related guidelines require attorneys to advise their clients of certain elements of mediation confidentiality. The settlement and mediation phase would necessarily be continued until the trial, and even during trial. The advantages of a negotiated settlement are many, including the resolution of certain claims, the payment of a settlement sum without further risk and the end of the litigation.

Construction Defect Trial

Most construction defect cases settle before trial. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, then the matter goes to trial. At trial, typically experts will testify on the defects, their nature and extent, the cost of repair and any other damages related issues, such as loss of use or diminution in value. The experts will often cover a range of disciplines, from general contractor to structural engineering, and any other specialty required, such as geotechnical engineering or appraisal. These are determined by the nature of the case, the strategy and other factors.

Statutes of Limitation

If you feel you are the victim of a construction defect in your property, you can file a construction defect claim. If you go this route, keep in mind that there are laws in California that impose a time limit on certain lawsuits. The length of time needed to bring a construction defect action against the builder is based on:

  •     The amount of time that has passed since the substantial completion of the property
  •     The nature of the defect
  •     When the property owner discovered the defect

Construction Defect Attorney

Construction defect laws can be difficult to understand, and a law firm that specializes in construction defect litigation can help you understand your rights as a property owner and the timing aspects of filing a lawsuit. Timothy Norton of Norton & Associates has more than 30 years of experience litigating construction defect cases. If you have questions about defects in your property do not hesitate to contact our firm today.

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What Kind of Construction Defects Can I Sue For?

Construction defects in new high-end custom home construction are more common than one might expect. Often these homes are complicated designs with details and features that require skilled contractors and subcontractors. Defects often arise when builders cut corners on supervision and oversight. In these cases, there can be a multitude of defects in all areas of the home.

 

Different Types of Construction Defects

These defects are within interior walls, embedded in structural elements and not apparent to visual inspection. These are latent defects, which manifest themselves over time, often after a severe rain, or through subtle but significant signs, such as cracked foundations, failure of the systems that heat and cool the interior or movement in retaining walls. Problems with retaining walls may require steel sheet piling to help fix them, and the services of The UK’s leading sheet piling contractors may be necessary.

Change Order Fraud

Also, custom home construction is more expensive than conventional construction, certainly more detailed and complex, and disputes over change orders are common. Often the owner is unaware of the change order process as it develops and may be surprised at the end of construction by a large change order bill.

Change order fraud is quite prevalent in the industry. Many builders bid their projects low and make up for lost profits by misusing change orders to create additional charges, which can be a significant component of the overall cost. A careful analysis of the change orders, their sequence and scope and the underlying “change” will often expose the fraud.

Construction Defects and the Law

California law protects property owners and provides remedies for construction defects. However, the law is complex and obtaining a recovery from any builder can be difficult, especially when they have misused the change order process to escalate their bill and use these change orders as an offset to your claims. There are time limits that need to be watched carefully to ensure that your claim remains viable. In many cases, it may take 5-7 years for the defects to become apparent.

Construction Defects & Statutes of Limitation

Because of the statutes of limitation, it is important to take action as soon as you become aware of the problem, to document the conditions and retain an attorney to evaluate the conditions and determine whether or when you should file suit. Often the safest solution is simply to file suit as soon as practical to preserve your claims.

If the builder offers to repair the problem, this could affect the statute of limitations. However, one should be wary of builder repairs, which often do not address the root of the problem. The builder who created the defects is not likely to repair them correctly or completely.

Help with Real Estate and Construction Defect Claims

The solution to these problems is simple: Contact Timothy Norton of Norton & Associates, with over 30 years’ experience representing custom homeowners in construction defect and contractor/builder related claims.

Real estate and construction defect attorney Timothy Norton specializes in handling all types of construction-related claims. Contact Norton & Associates today online or by phone at 310-706-4134 to learn how we can help you.

 

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Housing and Construction Defects Law 101

Sometimes roofs sag, water leaks, and concrete cracks. These are the realities of home construction in California, and they all come from poor project management. House building projects can often be managed a lot better through the use of a home building software that helps house builders manage delays and speed up processes. House building software is often used to eliminate the chances of leaks and cracks in a home. All of these may be considered elements of construction defects that may also lead to damage claims and possibly litigation in California. Here’s a look at housing and construction defects law 101.

What are Construction Defects?

Construction defects are generally defined as deficiencies in the design, workmanship, materials, or construction of a home that result in a failure of a part of a structure. Construction defects also cause damage to the person or property, usually resulting in financial harm to the owner. Under California Civil Code 896, a construction defect is any condition which makes your home unsuitable for its intended use.

Common examples of bad house construction include:
? Significant cracks in the foundation
? Faulty framing
? Faulty plumbing
? Leaking window, roofs or walls
? Other moisture problems from improper drainage or waterproofing
? Slanting floors or walls

Some defects are apparent, while others may be hidden from plain sight and normally not discovered during a professional inspection. Construction defects are a regular occurrence in the homebuilding industry, and homeowners can sue for damages. But time is a critical factor in these cases. It’s not a question of whether a homeowner can sue, but when they can sue.

Construction Defect Law: A Primer

Homeowners can sue for almost any construction defect. Like most areas of law, construction defect litigation is a specialty, due to the specific knowledge and expertise required. Construction defect attorneys need to understand the statutes of limitation, insurance coverage, and construction practices, as well as standards of care.

In January, the California Supreme Court resolved 15 years of debate when it decided the long-standing question of whether the “Right to Repair Act” (SB800) provides the sole remedy in California residential construction defect cases (where the builder has invoked the statute in the sale/purchase documents). In McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 241, the court ruled the Right to Repair Act is the sole remedy for residential construction defect claims subject to pre-litigation considerations, where emergency situations make strict compliance infeasible.

A homeowner can sue various parties for almost any construction defect. Suits for construction defects can come as many different causes of action, which include:
? Breach of warranty
? Contract dispute based on the construction contract
? Fraud
? Strict liability of the general contractor
? Tort claims, such as negligence

Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose

This is where timing is crucial. States have different statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, which determine if and when you can file a suit. A statute of limitations states the time allowed for being able to sue after a defect was found or should have been found. A statute of repose is the limit for filing a lawsuit starting from the time of the event (such as delivery of the home), even if the defect has only recently been found.

California construction defect law applicable to SB 800 provides a statute of limitations for each individual building violation addressed with time periods ranging from one year to 10 years, depending on the building component. If a construction defect or other problem is observed, the homeowner must promptly seek legal advice as to their rights under the statute of limitations.

Typically, most defective conditions become apparent approximately three to five years after the completion of construction. They initially appear as hairline cracks or other minor problems. The builder/developer is responsible for all defective conditions even if a subcontractor performed the actual work or if the faulty materials used in construction were manufactured by someone else. You’re going to ensure the materials that are going to be used are the best for the job, so having a look at, Tradefix Direct should allow you to find the part you’re going to need to complete the job. Of course, the involved design professionals and subcontractors remain responsible for their work.

Help with Construction Defect Litigation

California law typically favors homeowners, awarding them damages for several types of claims including the reasonable cost of repair, reasonable relocation and storage expenses, and lost business income if the home was used as a principal place of business.

The construction attorneys at Norton & Associates specialize in construction defect claims ranging from thousands to millions of dollars in damages. Timothy Norton has decades of experience with California construction defect cases and other real estate claims. Call today at 310-706-4134. We are here to help.

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What You Need To Know About Switching Lawyers Mid-Case

Breaking up can be hard to do, especially with your lawyer. But if you and your attorney aren’t seeing eye to eye, you may want to find an attorney who represents you to your liking. Having a robust legal representation is needed when fighting construction defect cases in California. Switching lawyers mid-case may be the right decision, but there are a few things you should know before looking for a new attorney.

Before you replace or switch lawyers mid-case, it is a good idea to have a conversation about what is making you uncomfortable or unhappy, giving your lawyer a chance to correct the problem. If you cannot resolve the issues, or if you’re still wondering how to switch lawyers, you should know you have the right to fire your lawyer and replace them.

Construction defect claims and the law

The laws relating to damages for injury to real property is one of the areas that attorneys need to be well-versed in to handle a construction defect case. A deficiency in the design or construction of a home resulting from a failure to design or construct in a reasonable, professional manner, and in line with a buyer’s reasonable expectation is at the heart of a construction defect claim.

When a contractor constructs property or makes improvements or repairs on it, this work must be performed to certain standards. If the work is completed in a defective manner, the property owner may have the right to seek compensation through a construction defect lawsuit. However, there are strict time deadlines that the property owner must meet to avoid having his or her claim thrown out.

Timing and construction defect claims

Your legal representative must also understand that with construction defect cases, time really is of the essence. How much time homeowners have when pursuing a construction defect claim depends on the actual cause of action that he/she is asserting. Possible causes of action related to construction defects include breach of contract, breach of implied warranty, negligence, nuisance, fraud, and strict liability. Each cause of action carries with it a different statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a law that establishes a limit on the right to file a claim for a specific cause of action.

The statute of limitations sets the time limit to bring forth a suit. If the claim is not brought within the relevant statute of limitations, the claim cannot be pursued. For example, a statute of limitations slip and fall new york may state that the plaintiff has three years from the date that a cause of action arose to bring forth a case. California statutes overlap and can be confusing and unclear about the application to a particular set of facts.

Before switching lawyers mid-case

Because of the importance of time in construction defect cases, homeowners should give a lot of thought before switching lawyers mid-case. If you are considering changing attorneys or asking yourself if you can switch lawyers, it is helpful to seek the advice of an experienced attorney who specializes in construction law.

This type of consultation can provide an overview of your case and a useful evaluation of the effect of the statute of limitations. Real estate and construction defect attorney Timothy Norton specializes in handling all types of construction-related claims. Contact Norton & Associates today online or at 310-706-4134 to learn how our team of construction defect attorneys can assist you.

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What To Do If You Find Undisclosed Problems with Your Home

Buying a new home, rather than an existing one, does not always mean it is free of problems. In fact, construction defects in condominiums and new homes are likely more common than you think. With that said, undisclosed problems with your home are not always easy to spot. Many defects are not discovered during escrow, but become apparent over time after you move in.

A few examples of the many types of construction defects include:

  • Significant cracks in the foundation
  • Moisture problems from improper drainage or waterproofing
  • Slanting or bowing floors or walls
  • Leaky roofs
  • Leaky windows
  • Faulty plumbing
  • Faulty framing

What you can do if you find undisclosed problems with your home                                      

If you notice signs of construction defects in your home, it is essential to act quickly to resolve the issue. The first thing you want to do is document the issue with photos, then notify the builder. Most builders have someone who handles repairs and problems on new homes during the term of the warranty. If your new home carries a warranty, usually there are issues that are covered for the first year. Some issues are covered for two years, while others are under warranty for ten years. There are, of course, exceptions with warranties. If there are serious problems and major defects, you should contact a construction defect lawyer immediately. These warranties are misleading and often do not cover major problems or are used as excuses to avoid liability. The builder is unlikely to respond to major defects unless you have proper representation, and will usually stall and delay.

If a warranty no longer covers the problem, and if you are convinced that the issue is more serious than the builder will acknowledge, or if the builder does not fix the item to your satisfaction, you still have options.

You can pressure the builder to fix undisclosed problems with your home by hiring an independent inspector. It is especially important to do this before the end of each warranty term so that you can have problems addressed before time runs out. You can also seek legal help to enforce your rights.

The ultimate goal of addressing a construction defect issue is to have the builder take care of the repair without any out-of-pocket expense for the homeowner. The reality is that it can sometimes be difficult to force a builder to address these issues without the threat of litigation. Often, a builder will try to pass off responsibility and say that it was the job of a subcontractor he hired to perform the work at issue.

Help with fighting construction defects

Retaining an experienced construction attorney as soon as you are aware that you have a construction defect issue is an effective way to make sure all of the responsible parties are held accountable for fixing the work and are forced to respond to your requests in a timely fashion. Homebuilders typically have insurance policies that cover your claim, but the coverage issues are quite complicated and builders will often ignore homeowners who are not represented by an attorney.  Also, you must act promptly and be aware of the statutes of limitations. This is why hiring an experienced litigator is essential.

Filing a construction defect claim

If you are not able to reach a satisfactory result working with the builder, you can file a construction defect claim. If you go this route, keep in mind that there are laws in California that impose a time limit on certain lawsuits. The length of time needed to bring a construction defect action against the builder is based on:

  • The amount of time that has passed since the substantial completion of the property
  • The nature of the defect
  • When the property owner discovered the defect

Construction defect laws can be difficult to understand, and a law firm that specializes in construction defect litigation can help you understand your rights as a property owner and the timing aspects of filing a lawsuit. Timothy Norton of Norton & Associates has more than 30 years of experience litigating construction defect cases. If you need help correcting construction defects or undisclosed problems in your home, contact our firm today. We’re here to help.    

 

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What To Do About Construction Product Or Material Defects

Construction product or material defect is the failure of any component to a residential home or commercial building, or a deviation from the Building Code, the Plans or Standard of Care. These defects expose the owners to the risk of costly damages and expenses. One of the tell tale signs of construction defects is water leaks or water intrusion. This can be a sign of defects in the roof, stucco, window, window frames or any combination.

 

Defective structural components can result in severe cracks, failed retaining walls or slope movement. These types of construction defects are typically caused by negligent and improper construction practices. The result? Loss of property value, the necessity of repairs and uncertainty.

This is what you need to do about construction product or material defects:

Construction Deficiencies

The sad but true fact behind construction defects is that these issues rarely happen by accident. These devastating issues are often the result of cutting corners to save time and money or inadequate supervision of construction workers. Cost overruns, change order fraud and overcharges often couple these defects. Cost overruns and delays in development are common occurrences during the building process. While these are not sure-fire signs of construction defects and fraudulent crimes, it’s crucial for owners to be aware of the reality of this industry.

My Property has Construction Defects

As a new home or commercial building owner, the last thing you expect is to experience issues in the construction of your investment. If you have noticed premature cracking in the foundation of your property, leaks, or other unusual conditions, these issues may be defects caused by the builder.  

You have invested in your property, you now face potential losses due to construction defects, and the law entitles you to compensation. Construction defect litigation cases are complicated. An experienced construction defect is essential.

 

Whether you’re experiencing commercial, industrial, or custom residential construction defects, a consultation with an experienced construction defect attorney is the first step. Or, if you’ve hired an attorney, and would like a case evaluation, a consultation with an experienced construction defect lawyer is essential to protecting your investment.

Construction Defect Litigation in California

The stress and frustration of a construction defect in your home can be overwhelming. Don’t fight this fight alone. Timothy Norton of Norton & Associates is hands-on with every single case that walks through his door. With a passionate and an aggressive approach, he is dedicated to winning you a large settlement that is guaranteed to cover the damages. Our law firm has over 30 years of experience, and we have won our clients millions of dollars in compensation. If you have been the victim of construction defects, contact a construction litigation lawyer today. Your investment depends on it.

 

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Detecting Defects In Your Home Before You Sign On The Dotted Line

Buying a new home is exciting and should be a happy time. One of the drawbacks of purchasing a new residence is the potential for construction defects. In California, tens of thousands of new homes are constructed and sold each year. A house is typically your single most valuable financial investment, so many buyers are upset upon discovering home defects months – or even years – after closing. Unfortunately, defects are rarely discovered before one purchases a house.

Not only can home defects require major repairs, but they have the potential to reduce your home’s value. Most defects are not noticeable until after you move in. Problems can arise in your new home whether its new construction or previously owned. Issues with pipes, flooring, and even the foundation can make the American dream feel like a nightmare for homeowners. As a homebuyer, do you know what to do if construction issues make your new home unsafe or unlivable? If you answered no, keep reading to learn more about California construction defect law.

What are Construction Defects?

Construction defects arise from issues in how your home is designed, built or maintained. These types of flaws happen on projects of various types and sizes. They impact nearly everyone associated with the project – from architects and general contractors to electricians and roofers. A construction defect usually results in financial harm to the homeowner.

A typical house is made up of more than 3,000 different parts. All those components must be put together with care and skill to meet building code requirements and make your new home safe and functional.

How to Look for Construction Defects

Most construction defect claims are not typically reported for several years. In California, homeowners have up to 10 years after the completion of a home to report latent defects. The areas of a house most often involved in construction defect lawsuits include:

  • Roofs
  • Windows
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Defective floors

Home inspectors are an excellent resource for finding construction defects. Even with months of planning, builders can still make mistakes. While this is in no way meant as a condemnation of the home-building industry, errors and defects still happen. Flaws in construction can be the result of inadequate supervision and workmanship. They are also caused by deliberate underbidding and cutting corners with the construction budget.

What to Do if You Suspect Construction Defects in Your Home

If you think you have found a defect in your new home, you’ll want to hire an independent contractor or inspector with experience dealing with the type of problem you have. You should start documenting the issue with photos and videos, taking note of dates that any issues began, as well as logging any other details that are relevant in discussing how the construction defect came to light. It’s important to determine whether the problem is with design, materials, construction, or something else.

How a California Construction Defect Lawyer Can Help

If you are sure your home has a construction defect, you should contact the developer with your concerns. If your developer does not agree to make repairs to your home, or the repairs are inadequate, you may then have to pursue a lawsuit. A qualified California construction defect lawyer will be a necessary and valuable resource if you go this route.

Real estate and construction defect attorney Timothy Norton specializes in handling all types of construction-related claims. Contact Norton & Associates today online or at 310-706-4134 to learn how our team of construction defect attorneys can assist you.