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Basic questions about construction defect cases

It is not every day that homeowners encounter construction defects, but they can occur regardless of whether the home is newly constructed or recently restored from its former glory. When a homeowner discovers a defect, either through the detection of mold, problems with electrical systems or cracks in the roof, foundation or sheetrock, he or she may have legal remedies available.

While not intended to be legal advice, this post will highlight answers to some of the most common questions about construction defect cases.

How are construction defects proven? - Most patent (i.e. obvious) defects are self-explanatory, while latent (hidden) defects are not discovered until years later. In both situations, a qualified expert analyzes the defect, offers an opinion on how the defect was caused and makes recommendations on how it may be repaired.

What kind of monetary damages can be recovered? - In construction defect cases, monetary damages are designed to put the damaged party in the position they would have been in if the defect had not occurred. This means that a homeowner would be able to recover the cost of repairs, the cost of temporary housing (if necessary), attorney's fees if provided for by the contract, as well as punitive damages if a court finds that the builder acted recklessly or maliciously.

Is there a time limit for bringing a lawsuit? - Generally speaking, a lawsuit must be brought within the applicable statute of limitations. New Jersey law requires a construction defect lawsuit to be brought within six years of discovering a defect. New York law requires such lawsuits to be brought within six years of a project's completion.

In all construction defect cases, the unique facts of case may affect the statute of limitations, the measure of damages, and the responsible parties. An experienced attorney can answer questions regarding these and other issues surrounding your case.

The preceding is presented for informational purposes.

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