How Long Do I Have to Sue My Contractor for Defective Work?
- You have four years to file a suit against a contractor under a theory of negligence
- There is a statute of limitations of five years on incidents of breach or default
- When a performance bond is included in your contract, you have two years to take a legal action against the defaulting contractor
- Under no circumstances can you bring an action against your contractor after 10 years from the time that the action accrued
The time you have to sue your builder or contractor after you discover a construction defect with your home, warehouse, condominium, or industrial building depends on whether the action is brought under contract or tort. It is either four years or five years, but under no circumstances can it be any later than ten years. The standard time frames you have to sue your contractor under different circumstances are described below.
Tort theory of negligence
If you sue your contractor or anyone involved in the construction process, you can bring that action under a tort theory of negligence within four years of you first learning of the defect.
Incident of breach or default
If you have a contract and you want to sue the contractor for breaching that contract, you can do that within five years of the incident of breach or default. This is the time period that you have to bring the claim once you learn about it.
When you have a performance bond, you can make a claim against it
If you happen to have a performance bond then you can make a claim against that bond. You have to bring that action within two years of the time of the default of the contractor.
The statute of repose
Florida Statutes state that under no circumstance can you bring an action against your contractor, or anyone else involved in the construction of a construction project, greater than 10 years from the time that the action accrued. This usually means the last time the contractor or subcontractors were paid on the job or when the certificate of occupancy was issued. The 10-year period of what is called the statute of repose is the outside limit.
Here is an example of how this would apply. You are in your house and you have been there for nine years and everything is fine. But all of a sudden, on year nine the ceiling caves in and you realize it is because of a construction defect related to the roof. You had no knowledge of this defect for the first nine years. Despite this is longer than 4 and 5 years, all may not be lost if you had no reason to know that the construction defect existed, and it was truly a construction defect that existed at the time the building was constructed. If that is the case, your time period to bring this action starts once you become aware of it. Your time begins to run in the ninth year. But now you run up against the statute of repose which gives you only one more year since 10 years is an absolute cap. As long as you bring the action within the 10-year period, you should be okay. So, make sure that the instant you become aware of issues with respect to the construction of your home, condo or commercial facility, you check it against the applicable time period available to you to bring an action.