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Legal Blog

When construction defects lead to structural failures

In Florida, buildings and other structures sometimes collapse. These collapses may happen because of several different reasons, including manmade and natural reasons. Some of these structural failures are caused by construction defects when the buildings or structures are built. When a building or other structure collapses because of construction or design defects, the people who built the structure or who designed it may be liable.

When builders are building a structure, they have to take into account its size, location and its intended use. Mistakes that are made with the improper mixing of concrete for foundations can lead to cracks and structural failures

When HOA/COA maintenance workers become unlicensed contractors

Ongoing maintenance work in large condo or home communities can be a full-time job. Many homeowners associations (HOAs) and condominium owners associations (COAs) have a full-time maintenance worker on staff. That person typically acts as a "handyman," responsible for repairs and upkeep of communal property.

It's difficult to deny the affordability and convenience of having someone onsite to deal with this work. You don't have to seek bids, vet contractors or pay top-dollar for something that could be handled in-house.

However, there's a limit to how much these employees can (or should) do. Some types of work require a licensed contractor. By having their maintenance worker tackle these projects instead, HOAs and COAs might save a buck in the short-term, but they face exposure to costly liability down the road.

Common defenses to watch out for in construction defect claims

Construction defect claims are rarely surefire. When you're seeking to hold a developer, builder or contractor accountable, you may face roadblocks along the way. Ultimately, the other side is looking to protect their own interests - and their own bottom line. Thus it's important to be aware of possible defenses and arguments they might raise in these cases.

Common defenses include:

Recognizing construction defects

A construction defect can occur at any point in the process of designing, building or inspecting a structure. Defects may occur in a commercial building or a new home that is constructed in Florida. Problems could arise if water intrusion occurs as that can lead to toxic mold, and other problems include expansive soils or unstable foundations.

What are the 4 categories of construction defects?

It's not uncommon for new home purchasers to complain of mold, leaks in the roof, cracks in the walls, malfunctioning windows and more. A lot of new construction homes have these kinds of problems. When the new home purchasers and the builders cannot come to a workable agreement, these situations may lead to litigation.

Courts generally organize problems that lead to construction defect litigation into the following categories:

How to avoid construction defects when buying a new condo

If you are buying a new condo, you may be captivated by the new modern amenities and design; but don't forget to be realistic when it comes to inspecting the residence for construction defects before signing on the dotted line. It is easy to be so focused on the fancy features that poor construction is only noticed after you move in.

If you do have your heart set on purchasing a condominium, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from a nightmare down the road. A proper inspection of the condo for construction defects is essential. 

First, we always recommend seeking legal representation when making an investment into real estate. It likely involves a major financial investment and it is important to know your rights and obligations under the contract and to assure you are receiving good and marketable title.

Florida's surprising building law following hurricane disaster

Hurricanes and tropical storms are becoming more frequent and more destructive. You might expect that after surviving Andrew and Irma, Florida would be more prepared than ever to handle a natural disaster. However, recent amendments to Florida's building codes have actually left the state in a more vulnerable position than before.

After Hurricane Andrew struck the coast of Florida in 1992-destroying more than 63,000 homes and killing 26 people-the state government took decisive action. In an effort to create more resilient communities, it turned to the International Code Council (ICC). Every three years, the ICC brings together experts in the building and engineering industries. The group issues a series of recommendations to enhance building codes to create safer, stronger construction that can withstand ever-worsening weather conditions.

Lessons on construction defects from the Miami bridge collapse

In this day and age, catastrophic structural collapses are rare in the developed world. Yet they do still happen, as last month's fatal bridge collapse in Miami so vividly illustrated. And structural defects in all kinds of construction occur on a much broader scale, costing property owners significant sums of money to remedy.

What lessons can be gleaned from the Miami bridge collapse? And how does it shed light on construction defects in general?

Finding the right contractor is essential

Hiring the right contractor for a major project at a housing development or condominium can seem overwhelming, but you can do it. All it takes will be some planning, detective work, a take-charge attitude and decision-making.

It's critical that you bring on board the right team. You want someone whom you can trust and has a record of solid work filled with satisfied customers. What's the alternative? Would you rather be stuck with an incompetent builder who may be dishonest, relies on a team of ill-prepared workers and continuously delays completion?

Florida court ruling sheds light on insurance involvement in Chapter 558 construction defect process

For property owners facing the headache of construction defects, Florida law establishes an early opportunity to resolve the dispute. Instead of going straight to court, owners must first provide the contractor (or other responsible parties) with written notice of the defects and damages, and give them an opportunity to perform repairs.

This process - outlined in Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes - is mandatory for property owners. However, construction professionals aren't required to respond, in which case the owners can move forward with litigation.

But what about the construction company's insurance? Should this pre-litigation process trigger the insurance company's involvement, or are they entitled to wait on the sidelines until a formal lawsuit is filed?

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