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Legal Blog

Why are construction defects such a big deal?

A construction defect could ruin an otherwise perfect home or property. Defects range from minor inconveniences to issues that require rebuilding portions of properties. No matter what kind of defect you're working with, it's important to know your rights.

When a defect affects the value of your home and has cost you money, you're within your rights to look into ways to recover your losses. The first thing you should know is that there are two kinds of defects. These include patent and latent defects. A patent defect is obvious; in other words, it should be discovered during a routine inspection. A latent defect isn't as easy to see and may be hidden.

Construction contracts: When issues arise

Any construction project, no matter how big or small, will (or should) have a contract associated with it.

Unfortunately, there are times when trouble arises at some point during the project. This can include many different parties, such as contractors, subcontractors and developers.

5 common construction defects

Construction defects can be a huge point of contention between homeowners and construction companies. They're costly, they're frustrating and there's no guarantee that both sides are going to agree on who is responsible.

With that in mind, watch out for these five common issues. Understanding what problems to look for can help during an inspection, and it also shows homeowners the quality of workmanship they should expect.

  1. Windows that have been poorly installed. This can lead to drafts and leaks. These leaks in particular are problematic because water damage can spread quickly within a home.
  2. Poorly constructed roofs. That roof is the home's main protection from the elements. As with windows, even a small leak can cause an incredible amount of damage.
  3. Unsafe balconies and decks. That outdoor living space may look beautiful, but improper construction can lead directly to very dangerous conditions for the family.
  4. Defective concrete foundations. With a new build, any crack in the slab is a potentially serious issue. This type of damage can extend up the home as the house settles unevenly, damaging the walls, the windows, the doors, the roof and much more.
  5. Structural design defects. With the emphasis on open floor plans in modern homes, there are not nearly as many load bearing walls on the first floor as there used to be. It's important to make sure that the home is still structurally sound with the use of overhead beams, pillars and other such design features.

Where can homeowners' associations ban smoking?

For many nonsmokers, the smell of cigarette smoke, even from a distance, can be highly unpleasant and even nauseating. For those with respiratory ailments, it can be particularly problematic. Many homeowners' associations (HOAs) for condominiums and townhomes where residents live in close proximity to one another face complaints from residents about neighbors' smoking. However, to what degree can HOAs regulate it?

Florida associations are allowed to ban smoking in all common outdoor areas (also known as common elements), including tennis courts, pools, play areas and dog walking paths, as well as those covered under the Florida Clean Air Act. HOAs can also restrict smoking on units' balconies (which are considered limited common elements) and in indoor common areas, such as hallways. The restrictions must be reasonable and the HOA's ownership rights to these areas need to be spelled out in its declaration.

Liens filed against new construction

When construction of a new home, condominium, business structure or remodeling takes place, there is usually more than one construction crew involved. There may be architects, builders, painters, roofers, electricians, plumbers and many other contractors on the payroll.

In addition to the workers, there are suppliers who may deliver materials or provide other services. There may be one building contractor who handles the hiring of all crews and ordering materials, or it can be a number of different contractors with their own specialties.

Condo associations ponder hurricane shutters in light of Irma

In light of Hurricane Irma in 2017, condominium association directors are contemplating the best ways to protect units from hurricane protection. Having hurricane shutters installed on all units seems the best way to go, but the question is whether it should be the responsibility of the owners or the association.

The majority of association declarations do not discuss hurricane protection. While windows and door replacements, as well as maintenance and repair for them, falls on the owner, hurricane shutter maintenance falls upon whoever paid for the installation. If the association installed shutters, the association is responsible for maintaining them. If the owner installed the shutters, they usually maintain them.

Chapter 558 for construction defects

In Sarasota, Florida, new multi-unit buildings are going up every day. Construction defects are bound to occur in large building projects, especially those including multiple units.

Because of Chapter 558, enacted in 2003 by the Florida Legislature, contractors have an opportunity to try to resolve construction defects before any legal action can be taken against them. However, to be protected under this statute, a contractor must have followed certain rules.

Condo construction defects might not come to light for years

Construction defects are surprisingly common in new condominium developments. In many cases, these defects come to light during the turnover process, when unit owners take control from the developer. However, some issues linger undetected for years. They might surface during the course of repairs, improvement projects, routine maintenance or extreme weather conditions, resulting in unexpected costs and complications. 

How to steer clear of contractor fraud

Choosing a contractor to perform construction or repair work is a big decision - especially for large projects with substantial budgets. Unfortunately, scams do exist in the construction industry. Although regulations strive to protect consumers from fraud, it still happens at alarming rates.

Five years after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the East Coast, fraud charges are pending against more than 200 contractors with claims totaling $11 million. In one case, the contractor failed to pull the right permits, didn't have adequate insurance and bailed on the project partway through. The unfortunate homeowners were out thousands of dollars and unable to live in their home.

Understanding construction warranties: What owners should know

Buying a new home or condo provides peace of mind on many fronts. You can trust that there aren't unaddressed issues lingering from decades of wear and tear. You know exactly how long the roof and other critical components have been in place. You don't have to wonder whether the property was neglected or improperly maintained by a previous owner.

However, new construction isn't always smooth sailing. Problems can still arise months or even years down the road. Defects and deficiencies might require costly repairs to remedy. In some cases, these problems may even affect the entire development, whether a condo complex or single-family community.

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