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Part II: navigating the process of filing a construction defects lawsuit

Regular readers of our Florida legal blog know that in a recent post we laid out steps for your condominium owners association to take when confronted with serious problems such as water intrusion, crumbling facades or foundations, failing plumbing, unsafe balconies or decks, and the like.

These construction defects can erode the value of the property and make condo owners understandably unhappy.

You'll recall that in our previous post, we mentioned the legal process to be followed in order to file a construction defects claim as described in Florida Statutes Chapter 558.

Chapter 558 defines "construction defects" are deficiencies in construction or design (and specifications), surveying, planning, repair, alterations or remodeling of the property. The defects are caused in construction, for instance, when the general contractor or subcontractors fail to build according to accepted trade standards.

As outlined in our previous post, your first step in the process of getting the construction defects resolved to your satisfaction is to sit down with a qualified attorney experienced in successfully filing such claims.

The lawyer will tell you that before you file a suit, you must serve a written notice of claim on the person or company that you believe is liable for the defects: developer, general contractor, architect, engineers, subcontractor or others.

That notice must describe each defect in enough detail so that the recipient can determine the general nature of each problem. After that, the recipients are entitled to reasonable access to the property so that they can inspect the defects and determine whether repairs or replacements are needed to resolve the problems.

The recipients then give a written response that includes one of the following: an offer to fix the defect at no cost to the association; an offer to settle the claim for monetary compensation; an offer to settle with a combination of repairs and compensation; or a statement disputing the claim and rejecting repairs and compensation. The response can also include a statement that any payments will be determined by that party's insurer - an offer the association can then accept or reject.

As you can see, the process gets complicated quickly. However, an attorney experienced in construction defect litigation can help you navigate the system and protect your rights and interests at every step.

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