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Defending against claims of a construction defect

Construction defects are a risk on any project. It’s why you go out of your way to hire people you trust to do the work, and do it well. Even so, your business may face the occasional claim of a construction defect.

If that happens, don’t panic. There are many ways to defend your work and ensure your business is not being incorrectly held responsible for a perceived issue.

Utah construction defect laws

Construction defect claims can include a few types of accusations, such as:

  • Breach of contract
  • Negligence
  • Poor workmanship
  • Use of defective materials or supplies
  • A regulation violation

Because Utah is not a “right to cure” state, a property owner does not have to offer the builder a chance to fix the issues before filing a lawsuit.

Statute of limitations and repose

In Utah, there are time limits to keep in mind as well. There is a six-year statute of limitations on contract claims, for example, and a four-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. There is also a statute of repose, which is six years for contract and warranty claims, but can be nine years – and possibly even a bit longer – for all other claims.

It is possible in the construction contracts to include different limitations on when claims can be made, and is something an attorney may be able to help properly draft.

Determining who is responsible

If a construction defect did not cause the issue the property owner claims to have, for example, or if it was someone else’s work that led to the problem, then you shouldn’t be held responsible. A leak in the basement may be a grading issue, a flaw in the foundation, a plumbing problem, incorrectly installed windows, or something else entirely. Determining the cause, and therefore who may be responsible, is key. There are also limits to the types of losses or damages a plaintiff can claim.

For many property owners, a perceived construction defect is emotional. They see something they believe is wrong and want to blame someone. But if you’re not at fault, then it shouldn’t be you.

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