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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.

What are the rules for protection under Chapter 558?

First, the contractor must be sure that the contract includes the notice found in 558.005(2), Florida statutes. The notice must be in all caps using the exact verbiage as found in the statute. If this notice is not included, the regulations regarding a legal action against construction defects is not applicable.

If a contractor does receive a "notice of claim," he or she must follow the timelines imposed in 558.004, Florida statutes.

What are the timelines given for curing construction defects?

Contractors have 30 days (50 days if the association represents more than 20 residential parcels) from receipt of the notice of claim to perform an inspection of the dwelling or units and assess the defect.

Contractors also must notify any subcontractors, suppliers or designers who could be accountable for the defect within 10 days (30 days for more than 20 residential parcels) after receipt of the notice of claim. These parties then must assess the alleged damages and provide a written response within 15 days (30 days for more than 20 residential parcels). Responses should include an assessment of the alleged defect, what they are willing to do to correct the defect (along with a timeline), or a statement disputing the defect.

The contractor has a total of 45 days (75 if more than 20 residential parcels are represented) from receipt of the notice to provide a full written response to the party making the claim.

If a construction contract does not include the proper verbiage from Chapter 558, a contractor may be liable for legal action taken for alleged construction defects before they have an opportunity to remedy the situation. That is why it is important to have an attorney draw up or review all contracts before signing them. Also, failing to meet the above deadlines if a notice of claim is received can result in legal action being taken.

Source: FloridaBuilding.org, "Construction Defects: “Notice to Cure," accessed Feb. 01, 2018

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