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When to Call a Lawyer When a Construction Defect Occurs

Hi. I’m Chad Walker. I’m a partner with Regan Atwood. I’m located in the Orlando office. Our main office of the firm is located in Jacksonville, Florida.

When to Call a Lawyer When a Construction Defect Occurs

Today I’m going to talk about the types of cases that our firm handles, and the types of clients that we represent when a construction defect occurs.

When should you call a lawyer when a construction defect occurs?

Construction defect claims can arise at different times on a project. And the time at which they occur can have a significant impact on critical issues like coverage under performance bond, or coverage provided by an insurance policy. For instance, an alleged defect could be raised by the owner prior to the point of completion or prior to final payment.

Claims Going Both Ways

Oftentimes the owner will use that defect, and the genuine dispute over a defect, as a basis to withhold payment. In those instances, you often have claims going both ways. You’ve got a claim by the owner, who is asserting that there’s a defect. And you’ve got a claim by the general contractor or a prime contractor for payment of the work.

Those types of defect claims that occur before completion, or are discovered at or about the time of completion, can also lead to claims between the general contractor and the trade who did the work. Or the supplier who supplied, allegedly defective materials.

Those claims that arise during the project or at or about the time of completion, or at least that’s when they’re discovered, they also can lead to performance bond claims. As most of you listening know, or maybe all of you, there’s a performance bond that may be in place on a private project or a public project.

A performance bond that can be provided by the general contractor, or oftentimes a general contractor will require a sub provided performance bond. And so now you have claims against the bond, and you have claims against the surety on the bond. Defects can also arise, or defect claims can arise years after the construction project is completed.

Water Intrusion Claims

The most common example of that type of claim is a water intrusion claim. Oftentimes those water intrusion claims are based upon latent defects. Meaning defects that weren’t readily observable at the time the project was completed.

Latent defect claims can implicate insurance. You could have insurance coverage potentially under a CGL policy, a commercial general liability policy, or if there’s alleged design defects that lead to water intrusion or some other condition, then you could have a claim against a design professionals liability policy.

Statutory Notice Provisions

Owners, associations and contractors all have to navigate acquiring policy information, determining who and what might be covered under the policy, and putting the insurance carrier on notice of the claim or the potential claim.

In Florida, we also have statutory notice provisions that apply to completed construction projects, or defects on completed construction projects. Those fall under what’s known as Chapter 558 of the Florida statutes.

And again here, owners and contractors have to be familiar with those statutory notice requirements and navigating the process. Which includes inspections, and includes a response to the notice of the construction defect.

Our firm represents general contractors, trade contractors, suppliers, public and private owners. As construction law specialists, we can assist our clients in sorting through the complex bond and insurance coverage issues.

And in navigating the pre-suit process that I just described under Chapter 558. Once again, I’m Chad Walker. I’m a partner in the Orlando office of Regan Atwood. We also have offices located in Jacksonville, Florida.

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