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Lawmakers Look Into Construction Complaint Timeline

University of Salford Press

Once a building project is finished Floridians typically have a certain length of time to raise concerns stemming from construction defects. But one lawmaker is working to get change when that time starts.

Rep. Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) says the timing for when a construction project is completed is important because it  starts a clock ticking on deadlines for owners to file complaints about construction defects. That’s called the statute of repose. Rick Watson is with the Associated Builders and Contractors.

“Ten years from that date the owner has to bring action for latent defects,” Watson says.

Right now, that time-frame typically begins when the contractor receives final payment for a project. But Watson says that can cause problems.

“It’s totally in the control of the owner. He can delay that trigger date by not paying. And unfortunately in construction we see that all the time,” Watson says.

Perry’s bill would make the completion of construction the trigger. It’s a change that could favor the construction industry, by shifting the power to start the clock from home owners to builders. But some like Rep. Dwight Dudley (D-St. Petersburg) worry what would happen if a contractor felt she was finished but the property owner didn’t agree.

But Perry argues that wouldn’t happen. He says the contractor typically wouldn’t announce completion until a local building department approved the building for occupancy. He says that adds a third-party layer of protection

The measure passed out of the House Civil Justice Committee 8-to-4. Representative Dudley joined three other Democrats in voting against the measure.

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Regan McCarthy is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media. Before coming to Tallahassee, Regan graduated with honors from Indiana University’s Ernie Pyle School of Journalism. She worked for several years for NPR member station WFIU in Bloomington, Ind., where she covered local and state government and produced feature and community stories.

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