Buying a newly built home, or renovating an existing one, is a complicated but rewarding experience when the outcome meets the expectations of the client. Unfortunately, homeowners can fall victim to shoddy workmanship, structural deficiencies and other construction defects as contractors start taking shortcuts when deadlines approach, or when they accept other jobs across town that compete with ongoing projects.
When the homeowner discovers a construction defect, or if someone is injured as a result of a design or construction flaw in Washington, D.C., the home builder can be held liable for the defects or found negligent in causing the injury. The complications that arise in filing a claim, however, involve not only who to hold accountable but also the amount of time in which to file a claim.
Because of the challenges that can arise in pursuing a claim, it can help to have the expertise of a seasoned construction law attorney serving the Washington D.C. area who will help you develop the best strategy in pursuing a claim.
Typical construction defect claims
A number of relationships go into construction projects, which are reflected in the contracts between the homeowner and anyone involved in building the home, including the developer or the contractor and subcontractor, as well as the contractor and suppliers, architects and engineers.
Determining who is responsible in a construction defect claim is the next step, which means understanding if the injury or defect was the result of a design or engineering flaw, substandard workmanship or construction, or poor-quality material used. Once the liable person or persons have been identified, the homeowner can file a claim for:
- breach of contract
- breach of warranty
- strict liability
- fraud or negligent misrepresentation
Knowing when to file
Various laws in all states limit the time within which the claimant can file a claim, whether as a statute of limitation or of repose, as well as the right to cure, which allows the project owner the opportunity to correct the defect before the case goes to trial.
Washington D.C. statutes do not provide for a right to cure. The statute of limitations on contracts and torts, during which the plaintiff can file a claim after discovery of the defect, is three years. The statute of repose, which is the absolute limit on claims, is ten years after substantial completion.