A few weeks back, we began discussing how those who decide to undertake a dream construction project -- extensive home renovations, building an entirely new home, etc. -- can rapidly see it turn into a nightmare thanks to construction defects.
Indeed, we discussed how these defects, meaning conditions that diminish the value of a home, can generally be attributed to negligent construction and/or poor workmanship. More significantly, however, we discussed latent and patent defects.
To recap, a latent defect is one that is difficult to detect or otherwise hidden, while a patent defect is one that is open and obvious.
Construction defects: Statutes of limitation
Chances are good you might be wondering why the law even bothers to make a distinction between latent and patent defects.
The simple answer is the majority of states have established limited windows in which lawsuits can be filed, with those alleging latent defects being granted longer timeframes than patent defects.
The rationale behind these differing statutes of limitations is that if a defect is harder for homeowners to detect, then they should be given more time to potentially seek an equitable remedy via the courts. Such an approach serves to encourage the filing of claims in a timely manner, and encourage builders and developers to proceed with their projects.
It's also worth noting that some states, California included, require an aggrieved homeowner to notify the builder of the defect and give them the opportunity to remedy it before proceeding with a lawsuit in certain circumstances.
We'll continue this discussion in a future post, examining some of the damages that may be recovered in construction defects cases.
In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or concerns relating to a construction law issue.