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How a Construction Defect Attorney Can Assist You with the NRS Chapter 40 Pre-Litigation Process

Navigating construction defect claims under NRS Chapter 40 in Nevada demands a strategic approach. A construction defect attorney plays a pivotal role in assisting homeowners, homeowner associations (HOAs), and other affected parties through the pre-litigation process outlined in NRS Chapter 40. 

How Does the NRS Chapter 40 Pre-Litigation Process in Nevada Work?

The NRS Chapter 40 pre-litigation process in Nevada provides a structured framework for addressing construction defects. It prioritizes settlement through notice, inspection, right to repair, negotiation, and mediation, aiming to resolve disputes efficiently and cost-effectively before resorting to formal litigation. Understanding and complying with the procedural requirements of Chapter 40 are pivotal for navigating construction defect claims in Nevada and can greatly jeopardize your claim if not followed to the letter of the law.  Here’s an overview of how it operates:

Notice of Defect (NOD):

The process begins with the issuance of a Notice of Defect (NOD). Homeowners, homeowner associations (HOAs), or other affected parties must serve the NOD to the responsible parties, including builders, developers, contractors, and design professionals.  There are specific things that must be included in the notice in order to make it valid and the notice must be sent via certified mail to have proof that the recipient received the notice.

Inspection and Right to Cure:

Upon receiving the NOD, the responsible parties have the right to inspect the alleged defects and propose remedies. They must provide a written response outlining their intention to cure the defects, offer monetary compensation, or dispute the claim. The timeline for this response is critical.  Specifically, the response must be provided within 90 days of receiving the NOD and any offered repairs must be completed not later than 105 days after receipt of the NOD, unless the parties agree to allow for a longer timeframe.

There are exceptions to this timeframe if the defect at issue creates an imminent threat to the health or safety of the inhabitants of the residence.  

Mediation and Negotiation:

If the parties fail to reach a resolution during the cure/right to repair period, they must participate in a prelitigation mediation, unless the parties waive that right to mediation in writing.   Mediation sessions involve neutral third-party mediators who facilitate discussions between the parties to reach a settlement. Negotiations continue with the aim of resolving disputes without resorting to formal litigation.  If a resolution cannot be met during the prelitigaiton mediation, then the claimant/plaintiff may move forward with filing a lawsuit or arbitration, depending upon applicable contractual provisions.

Compliance with Procedures:

Adhering to procedural requirements outlined in NRS Chapter 40 is crucial. Parties must strictly follow timelines, documentation, and notice procedures stipulated by the law. Deviating from these procedures could affect the enforceability of the claims or defenses in court.

Litigation as Last Resort:

If the pre-litigation efforts fail to achieve a resolution, affected parties may pursue formal litigation or arbitration. 

The Role of a Construction Defect Attorney

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the attorney’s role in the construction defect claim process, and how legal representation can help with the NRS Chapter 40 pre-litigation process.

Initial Assessment: Evaluating Construction Defects to Determine the Validity of Claims

An attorney who understands the types of construction defects in Nevada will assess the situation, review contracts, inspection reports, and evidence of construction defect damage. Your lawyer will determine the viability of a claim and advise on the best course of action. In some instances, your attorney may even provide a free consultation and have a construction expert evaluate the viability of your claim before advising you on how to proceed.  Construction defect cases are driven by expert opinions and testimony so it is important to find a construction defect attorney that has connections with the correct litigation experts that can assist in your claim.

Notice of Defect: Triggering the Pre-Litigation Process

The attorney helps draft and serve the Notice of Defect (NOD) to the responsible parties, which triggers the pre-litigation process. This notice outlines the alleged construction defects and demands a response within specific timeframes as per NRS Chapter 40.

Document Collection and Evaluation: Collecting Relevant Documentation 

Collecting relevant documentation and evidence is crucial. Attorneys assist in gathering construction plans, inspection reports, contracts, photos/videos of damage and any other evidence supporting the claim. They will assist you in knowing what evidence is relevant to your claim and must be preserved. Failure to preserve evidence can result in spoliation and greatly harm your case. 

Expert Consultations: Substantiating Claims

Engaging experts like engineers, architects, or other construction experts is vital. Attorneys coordinate these consultations to analyze the patent and latent defects at your property and substantiate claims, bolstering the case with professional opinions.  In fact, construction defect cases are driven primarily by expert opinion testimony so it is very important to have a strong expert in your corner.

Mediation and Negotiation: Resolving Disputes

Skilled attorneys aim to resolve disputes through mediation instead of taking claims through years of litigation. They engage in mediation sessions and other information negotiations in order to reach a fair settlement for their clients. Their experience and skill aid in advocating for clients’ interests and ensuring that they get as much recovery as possible to make their clients as close to whole as possible.

Compliance: Adhering to NRS Chapter 40 Procedural Requirements

Attorneys ensure strict adherence to the NRS Chapter 40 procedural requirements. They navigate the intricate legal framework, ensuring all timelines, notices, and procedures are followed meticulously, preventing potential setbacks in the claim process.

Documentation and Reporting: Preparing for Litigation

Thorough documentation is pivotal. Attorneys compile comprehensive reports, documenting all communications, meetings, findings, and steps taken throughout the pre-litigation process, strengthening the case if litigation becomes necessary. They compile evidence, draft legal pleadings, and formulate a strategic approach to present a strong case in court.

Legal Representation in Court: Increasing the Chance of Success

Attorneys provide adept legal representation in court proceedings if litigation ensues. Their knowledge of construction law and familiarity with NRS Chapter 40 provisions bolster clients’ chances of favorable outcomes in litigation.

Post-Resolution Assistance: Continuing Support

Even after a resolution is reached, attorneys offer post-resolution support, ensuring compliance with settlement terms and addressing any potential issues that may arise.

Common Challenges in the NRS Chapter 40 Pre-Litigation Process

Successfully addressing challenges in Nevada’s NRS Chapter 40 pre-litigation process necessitates a combination of legal knowledge, evidence-backed claims, strategic negotiations, and proactive engagement to achieve favorable resolutions for construction defect claims. Some common challenges in the process include:

Time Limitations to File Your Claim

Navigating the pre-litigation process under Nevada’s NRS Chapter 40 presents challenges, notably concerning time limitations, not only with statutes of limitations, statutes of repose, but also, the prelitigation process itself.  The statute imposes strict timeframes for various stages, demanding swift action from claimants.

Notice of Defect (NOD): Initiating the process requires serving a Notice of Defect to the responsible parties within specific time constraints. Failing to comply with this deadline might jeopardize the claim’s validity, emphasizing the importance of promptly identifying and reporting construction defects.

Right to Cure Period: Upon receiving the NOD, builders, general contractors, or developers have a limited timeframe, usually 90 days, to investigate the alleged defects and propose remedies or dispute the claims in a written response. Adhering to this timeframe is critical, as missing the deadline could affect the subsequent steps or defenses.

Compliance with Procedural Timelines: Throughout the pre-litigation process, strict adherence to procedural timelines specified in NRS Chapter 40 is vital. Failing to meet these timelines might hinder the enforceability of claims or defenses, potentially complicating or delaying the resolution process.

Resistance From Builders, Contractors, and Insurance Companies

Builder and Contractor Reluctance: Builders and contractors often resist acknowledging or addressing construction defects, attempting to minimize their liability. They may dispute the severity of the alleged defects, delaying or obstructing the resolution process. Overcoming this resistance necessitates legal prowess and evidence-backed claims.

Insurance Company Challenges: Insurance companies representing builders or contractors might resist accepting liability or offering fair settlements. They often employ tactics to minimize payouts, necessitating skilled negotiation and robust evidence to substantiate claims and counter these strategies.

Complexity in Dispute Resolution: Mediation or negotiation processes can stall due to disagreements between parties. Builders, contractors, or their insurers may present counter-arguments or refuse to agree on proposed remedies, prolonging the resolution phase and potentially leading to litigation.

Tips for Selecting the Right Construction Defect Attorney

Selecting the right construction defect attorney involves a thorough assessment of the lawyer’s experience, reputation, communication style, and accessibility. A lawyer possessing extensive knowledge, a strong reputation, and a client-centered approach can significantly impact the success of your construction defect claim.

Qualities to Look for in an Attorney

Extensive Knowledge: Select attorneys who are familiar with state laws, building codes, and industry standards relevant to construction defects. Their depth of knowledge aids in assessing claims accurately and devising effective legal strategies.

Strong Reputation: Research the attorney’s reputation, considering client testimonials, peer reviews, and case outcomes. A reputable attorney demonstrates reliability, competence, and ethical conduct.

Resourcefulness and Networks: Choose attorneys with access to a network of experts, including engineers, architects, and construction professionals. Their ability to tap into these resources strengthens your case with expert opinions.

Litigation Experience: While aiming for settlements, ensure the attorney has litigation experience if courtroom proceedings become necessary. A lawyer proficient in both negotiation and litigation offers versatility and strength for your case.

Evaluate Attorney-Client Communication and Accessibility

Communication Style: Assess the attorney’s communication style and clarity in explaining legal matters. Effective communication fosters understanding and ensures you remain informed and empowered throughout the process. Having a good legal team, attorneys and paralegals, will help you feel more comfortable through what can be a long and tedious litigation process.

Responsiveness: Consider the attorney’s responsiveness to queries or concerns. Accessibility and prompt responses to your inquiries are indicators of their commitment to your case.

Transparency: Transparency in fees, timelines, and the overall legal process is crucial. An attorney who maintains transparency fosters trust and ensures clarity regarding your case’s progress.

Comfort Level: Trust your instincts and assess your comfort level during initial consultations. Feeling comfortable and confident in the attorney-client relationship is pivotal for a successful partnership.

What You Should Ask to See Before Hiring a Contractor

When embarking on a construction project, whether it’s a home renovation, a commercial build, or any construction work in Nevada, choosing the right contractor is paramount to the project’s success. Hiring a reliable licensed and insured contractor can make the difference between a smooth, well-executed project and a costly, stressful nightmare. To ensure you’re making the right choice, there are essential questions to ask and documents to review before committing to a contractor. 

Types of Questions to Ask at the Initial Meeting with a Contractor

Asking the right types of questions when you meet with the prospective contractor can help ensure that all your bases are covered before construction begins. Nevada construction defect lawyers recommend that you focus your questions around:

Ensuring the Contractor Has Valid Liability Insurance

One of the first things to check when hiring a contractor is whether they have valid liability insurance. Liability insurance is crucial because it protects you as the property owner from being held responsible for accidents or damage that may occur during the construction project.  Liability insurance can also come into play later if there are defective conditions at the property and the contractor refuses to adequately repair.  If the contractor doesn’t have liability insurance, you could be at risk of covering these costs yourself.

Evaluating the Contractor’s Previous Work

Reviewing a contractor’s previous work is a critical step in the selection process. Ask for a portfolio of completed projects similar to yours, and if possible, visit those sites. This allows you to evaluate the quality of their work, attention to detail, and whether their style aligns with your vision. It’s also an opportunity to speak with past clients to gain insights into their experience working with the contractor.

Identifying the Permits Required for the Project in Nevada

Nevada has specific regulations and permitting requirements for construction projects. It’s essential to ask the contractor about the necessary permits and ensure they have experience in obtaining these permits. Failing to secure the proper permits can lead to project delays, fines, or even legal issues.

Establishing Clear Lines of Communication

Effective communication is key to a successful construction project. Ask the contractor about their preferred method of communication and how often they will provide project updates. Having clear lines of communication ensures you’re informed about the project’s progress and can address any concerns promptly.  

Inquiring About the Contractor’s Use of Subcontractors

Many construction projects involve subcontractors who handle specific aspects of the work, such as plumbing, electrical, or roofing. It’s essential to ask the contractor about their use of subcontractors and how they manage and oversee these relationships. Knowing who will be working on your project and their qualifications is crucial for ensuring quality work.

While these questions and considerations are vital for hiring a reliable contractor, always remember to trust your instincts and conduct thorough research. Additionally, seek recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who have had positive experiences with contractors in Nevada. By taking these steps, you can have confidence that your construction project will be in capable hands.

What Documents Should You Ask for When Hiring a Contractor?

One way to ensure that you’re working with a reputable and qualified professional is to request specific documents that can provide valuable insights into the contractor’s credentials and experience. The key documents you should ask for when hiring a contractor in Nevada include:

License and Insurance Documents

Contractor’s License: In Nevada, contractors are required to be licensed to perform certain types of work. You should ask for the contractor’s license number and verify its validity through the Nevada State Contractors Board (NSCB). The license ensures that the contractor meets specific qualifications and standards. You can also run a search on the contractor’s board website to see if the contractor has any complaints lodged against it.

Insurance Certificates: Request proof of insurance, including general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. This is crucial in case of accidents, property damage, injuries during the project and damages, including construction defects. Verify that the insurance coverage is current and adequate.

Written Contracts and Agreements

Detailed Contract: Ensure that the contractor provides a detailed written contract outlining the scope of work, project timeline, payment schedule, and any warranties or guarantees. Watch out for unreasonable arbitration provisions and request that a prevailing party provision be added if litigation does become necessary. Review the contract thoroughly before signing to avoid potential disputes. It may be a good idea to have an attorney review the contract so that you fully understand your rights and obligations under the contract.

Building Permits and Licensing

Building Permits: Confirm that the contractor will obtain any necessary building permits for the project. Failure to secure required permits can result in legal and safety issues.

Subcontractor Licensing: If subcontractors will be involved in the project, verify that they are also licensed and insured.

Payment Schedule and Financial Documentation

Payment Schedule: Understand the contractor’s payment schedule and payment methods. Be wary of contractors who demand full payment upfront, which is illegal under Nevada law.

Financial Stability: Request evidence of the contractor’s financial stability, such as bank references, to ensure they have the resources to complete the project.

Bonding Information

Bond Information: Depending on the nature of the project, surety bonds may be required to provide financial protection in case of contractor defaults. Request information on any bonds in place for the project.

By requesting these documents and conducting due diligence, you can make a more informed decision when hiring a contractor in Nevada. This proactive approach can help you select a qualified professional and minimize potential risks associated with construction projects.

The Importance of Hiring a Reliable Contractor

When it comes to construction projects, whether it’s a home renovation, a commercial build, or any construction work, the importance of hiring a reliable contractor cannot be overstated. Your choice of a contractor can have a profound impact on the success, quality, and overall experience of the project. To ensure that your construction project proceeds smoothly and meets your expectations, it’s essential to invest time and effort in selecting the right contractor. 

From the beginning stages of planning and permitting to the final touches and finishes, a reliable contractor will guide you through the process with professionalism. While the search for a reliable contractor may require time and effort, the peace of mind and the assurance of a successful project make it a worthwhile endeavor. 

Quality Work and Craftsmanship

One of the primary reasons for hiring a reliable contractor is the assurance of quality work and craftsmanship. Experienced and reputable contractors bring their expertise to the table, ensuring that every aspect of the project is executed to the highest standards. Whether it’s building, plumbing, electrical work, or finishing details, a reliable contractor will have the skills and knowledge to deliver top-notch results.

Reliable contractors are known for their attention to detail. They take pride in their work and are committed to producing a finished product that not only meets, but often exceeds your expectations. Their reputation is built on delivering projects that are built to last, aesthetically pleasing, and free from defects. This commitment to quality and good customer service is a hallmark of a reliable contractor.

Timely Completion and Project Management

A reliable contractor understands the value of time and the importance of completing projects on schedule. Delays in construction can be costly, inconvenient, and frustrating. Reliable contractors are skilled project managers who have the ability to plan and execute projects efficiently. They establish realistic timelines and milestones, and they have the experience to anticipate and mitigate potential delays.

Timely completion is not just about convenience; it also affects your budget. Unforeseen delays can lead to increased costs in terms of labor, materials, and even potential legal or contractual consequences. A reliable contractor will work diligently to ensure that your project is completed within the agreed-upon timeframe, helping you avoid unnecessary expenses and inconveniences or the need to sue the contractor for unfinished work.

Legal Compliance and Permits

Construction projects are subject to a myriad of regulations, codes, and permitting requirements. Reliable contractors have a thorough understanding of local, state, and national building codes and regulations. They know how to secure the necessary permits for your project and ensure that the work complies with all legal requirements.

Failure to adhere to these regulations is a form of construction negligence and can result in costly fines, delays, and even legal disputes. Hiring a reliable contractor who is well-versed in the legal aspects of construction ensures that your project proceeds smoothly and without unnecessary legal complications. It also provides you with peace of mind, knowing that your project is being executed within the bounds of the law.

Accountability and Professionalism

Reliable contractors are accountable for their work and actions. They take their commitments seriously and are dedicated to delivering on their promises. Their professionalism is evident in every aspect of the project, from clear communication and written contracts to transparency in pricing and invoicing. This accountability and professionalism create a trustworthy working relationship that benefits both parties.

In contrast, unreliable or unprofessional contractors may be less accountable for their actions, leading to disputes, misunderstandings, and frustration. By hiring a reliable contractor, you can expect a high level of professionalism and ethics throughout the project.

Avoiding Unpleasant Surprises

Unreliable contractors may provide lower quotes or estimates, but these apparent cost savings can lead to significant hidden expenses and change orders down the road. Whether it’s subpar workmanship, the use of substandard materials, or unexpected project delays, the cost of fixing these issues can far exceed the initial savings.

Reliable contractors may not always be the lowest bidders, but they provide transparent and realistic estimates that reflect the true cost of your project. By hiring a reliable contractor, you are more likely to avoid unpleasant surprises and budget overruns. If you have questions regarding what to look out for or contract review, contact a construction attorney today.

Types of Construction Defects in Nevada

Construction defects range from improperly installed plumbing and tile to improperly installed windows and exterior walls. The range of defects is broad, and each defect has its own severity in repercussions. When construction defects result in property damage or harm to a person, compensation may be available to those who are affected.

Property owners experiencing the effects of negligent construction may be able to receive compensation for their losses. Lawsuits may be filed against a contractor, developer, or any others involved in the design and construction of the property in question. 

The Most Common Construction Defects in Nevada

Faults in construction are not always considered defects. Faults are deemed defects when they are not completed in a “good or workmanlike manner” and “proximately causes physical damage” or “present an unreasonable risk of injury to a person or property”. Construction defects commonly develop during the building design, planning, supervision, construction, and inspection phases of residential or commercial projects. Defects may include deficiencies in the manufacturing, design, construction, or repairs of new and existing property. 

Two of the most common construction defects are patent defects and latent defects. The difference between patent and latent defects relies on how easily detectable the defect presents itself. Patent defects are easier to recognize. Latent defects are not as easily detectable and are easily missed during inspections and walk-throughs.

Patent Defects

Patent defects are often obvious and out in the open. The naked eye should be able to see the defect during any routine inspection. The average individual with no prior building knowledge should be capable of observing and reasonably understanding that there seems to be a concern and/or defect. One example of a patent defect is severely cracked and flaking plaster. This defect can be easily noticed by walking around the building.  

Latent Defects

Unlike patent defects, latent defects are hidden and hard to detect. Latent defects may be hard to notice during inspection due to the location of the defect. Latent defects are often hidden under flooring, behind walls, or within the soil that the building is constructed on. Most of the areas listed are inaccessible to owners and their inspectors. Latent defects may include, but are not limited to, improperly compacted soil, improperly installed plumbing, roofs, and windows, etc. 

Categories of Construction Defects

There are four main categories responsible for defects under construction law. The categories include poor workmanship, material deficiencies, design deficiencies, and land defects. Each category has its own ramifications for construction defect cases. 

Poor Workmanship

Poor workmanship is defined as any defects caused by labor that was performed incorrectly or negligently. One or more defects may arise due to the poor performance of contractors. Contractors may have failed to follow applicable codes, industry quality standards, construction documents, or the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Workmanship defects may appear as cracks in the foundation or load-bearing walls, plumbing issues, and faulty electrical wiring. Improper soil compaction is a workmanship error that may cause a building’s foundation to sink, crack, or nurture other damage.

Material Deficiencies

Material defects involve the use of damaged, inadequate, or substandard building materials during the construction of a building. Defective construction materials may leave a building with poor structural support.  When a building is not supported properly, its features may perform inappropriately and begin deteriorating faster than anticipated. Material deficiencies are often in relation to plumbing fixtures, roofing components, and window weatherstripping. 

Design Deficiencies

Design defects refer to errors within the design elements of a structure. Deficiencies in design are a result of contractors building structures based on an architect or engineer’s flawed design. Architects and engineers who are responsible often failed to obey building codes set in place to make buildings structurally sound. These mistakes mandate a redesign and/or replacement of various components to meet the correct standards.

Land Defects

Before a structure is built, the soil conditions, topography, and various other data must be correctly evaluated. Soil subsidence and expansions are both responsible for continuing a cycle of contraction and expansion that weaken the foundation of buildings. This may lead to other defects presenting themselves in the future. Other land deficiencies may include improper grading, insufficient compaction, inadequate site drainage, and the inappropriate depth of pilasters.

Assessing Damages for Construction Defects

Construction defect laws are designed to encourage the cooperation of the parties involved in the claim. The first step of the prelitigation process requires a written notice to be delivered to the contractor in question. The letter must include any details that are known about the defect and any damages or injuries as a result of the deficiency. 

The contractor is permitted to inspect the structure and is given the opportunity to fix the defect and repair any damages. Financial compensation may also be offered to the claimant by the contractor. If negotiations are not possible, a construction defects attorney will ensure all prelitigation requirements are fulfilled. Once all prerequisites are met, the attorney can assist in filing a lawsuit on behalf of the claimant. Failing to follow the proper procedures or acting in bad faith may lead to the claimant becoming unable to recover the full expenses caused by defective construction.

Defective Analysis

To recover damages, claimants must prove the defect exists. Claimants must then prove the contractor/subcontractor within the claim is responsible. The attorney’s role in the construction defect claim process includes providing help with defect analysis. Defect analysis identifies defects and their causes. Claimants must also provide proof of the losses experienced due to the defects. Meticulous examinations are done to determine whether the alleged defects are a result of:

  • Poor workmanship
  • Defective materials
  • Inadequate blueprints or specifications of details
  • Deviation from manufacturing installation recommendations
  • Improper maintenance

Claimable Defect Damages

Each construction defect lawsuit is unique and can be difficult to navigate. A construction defect attorney can advise and guide claimants in comprehending legal issues and all options available to them. Damages available in a construction defect claim may include: expert fees, litigation costs, reasonable attorneys’ fees, temporary housing costs, costs of repair of the defective conditions, resultant damage, interest, the amount of property reduced in value due to the defect(s), and loss of the use of any part of the affected property and value of any other property damaged.

Common lawsuits for construction defects include breach of contract and negligence. Breach of contract lawsuits are brought against the contractor and other parties involved in the design, planning, and construction of a structure. Negligence claims are filed when negligent behavior causes a construction defect that is responsible for damage to a property or injury to individuals on the said property.

Breach of Contract 

Breach of contract is composed of three main categories. The categories include direct damages, consequential damages, and punitive damages. 

Direct damages are in place to compensate for the foreseen or contemplated losses directly linked to a breach of contract. Unpaid contracts, defective work cost repair, and reduced project value are all examples of direct damages. Direct damages are less difficult to prove due to fiscal amounts being provided.

Consequential damages include lost profits and can include lost bonding capacity, financing costs, and overhead costs. Proving consequential damages is more difficult than claiming direct damages. To qualify, damages must be proven as a proximate consequence of a breach and must have been reasonably foreseeable.

Punitive damages are also under the umbrella of breach of contract claims. These damages are seldom rewarded in comparison to direct and consequential damages. The breach of contract claim must involve blatant wrongs such as conversion or fraud.


Damages claimed under the umbrella of negligence are often referred to as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are awarded to claimants who have suffered property damage and/or a physical injury. The amount of compensation is established with the intention of returning the victim to the same quality of life they experienced before the act of negligence. Compensatory damages may be categorized as either tangible or intangible losses.

Tangible losses are easily calculated and include all current and projected medical expenses and lost wages. Calculations for property damage are executed by the cost of repair or replacement. This can include the loss of use of property while it is in the repair or replacement process. 

Intangible losses do not have a specific expense attached. Losses considered intangible are pain and suffering, emotional/mental distress, and other subjective losses the victim has suffered. The amount awarded is in proportion to the tangible losses granted.
How long is a developer responsible for defects in Nevada? Each state has its own Statute of Limitation that provides a time window in which a victim can file a legal claim. Construction defect attorneys can determine if a victim is within the correct time window to take legal action, and may be able to ask for an extension if time has exceeded limitations.

Can You Sue a Contractor for Unfinished Work?

When hiring a contractor to undertake a project, whether it’s a home renovation, construction job, or any other endeavor, you expect them to complete the work as agreed upon. Unfortunately, not all contractors fulfill their obligations, leaving homeowners and clients with unfinished projects and mounting frustration. This raises the crucial question: can you sue a contractor for unfinished work? Contract law attorneys emphasize the importance of understanding the legal aspects of this issue, exploring the rights of individuals and businesses in Nevada, reviewing possible remedies, and factors to consider before taking legal action.

Understanding the Contract Between the Contractor and the Client

The foundation of any agreement between a contractor and a client is the contract. A well-drafted contract should clearly outline the scope of work, project timeline, deliverables, payment terms, and other essential details. Before initiating a lawsuit for unfinished work, it’s essential to review the contract thoroughly. Many disputes arise due to misunderstandings or vagueness in the contract’s language. If the contract clearly states the contractor’s responsibilities, and they fail to meet them, you may have grounds for legal action.  It is also important to think about hiring an attorney to review a contract with any contractor before agreeing to enter into the contract so that you clearly understand your rights and responsibilities under the contract.

Breaches of Contract

A contractor’s failure to complete the agreed-upon work within the specified timeframe may be a breach of contract. Such breaches can occur due to a variety of reasons, including poor project management, financial issues, or even abandoning the project altogether. To pursue legal action for breach of contract, you’ll need to demonstrate that the contractor failed to fulfill their obligations as outlined in the contract.

Mitigation and Communication

Before resorting to legal action, it is crucial to make a reasonable effort to mitigate the situation and communicate with the contractor. Reach out to the contractor to discuss the issues and potential solutions. Document all communication, including emails, letters, and any responses received. Attempt to resolve the matter amicably through negotiation or mediation, as these steps can save time, money, and preserve business relationships.

When Can You Sue a Contractor for Unfinished Work?

You may be able to sue a contractor for unfinished work when the contractor fails to fulfill their contractual obligations as outlined in the agreement. Before taking legal action, it’s essential to communicate with the contractor, document the issues, and attempt to resolve the matter amicably. If resolution efforts fail, consulting with a legal professional is crucial to assess the viability of your case and determine the appropriate course of action. 

The key factors that may warrant a lawsuit include:

Breach of Contract: If the contractor fails to complete the agreed-upon work within the specified timeframe or does not meet the quality standards defined in the contract, it constitutes a breach of contract. This failure gives you the right to seek legal action to recover damages.

Lack of Progress or Abandonment: If the contractor shows little or no progress on the project, or completely abandons it without a valid reason or prior agreement, you may have grounds to sue for unfinished work.

Negligence: In some cases, unfinished work might result from the contractor’s negligence. For example, if the contractor’s actions or omissions lead to significant delays or damage, the client may pursue a negligence claim.

Fraud or Misrepresentation: If the contractor intentionally provided false information or misrepresented their qualifications to secure the contract, you may sue for fraud or misrepresentation.

Unjust Enrichment: In rare cases where there is no formal contract, the client may be able to sue for unjust enrichment if the contractor received payment for work they did not complete.

Determining Damages When You Sue a Contractor for Unfinished Work

When you sue a contractor for unfinished work, one of the critical aspects of your legal claim is determining the damages you have suffered as a result of the contractor’s breach of contract. Damages are the monetary compensation awarded to the aggrieved party to make up for the losses incurred due to the unfinished work. The primary goal of damages is to put the injured party in the position they would have been in had the contract been fully performed. The calculation of damages will depend on various factors. If you sue a contractor for unfinished work, you may be able to recover various types of damages. These can include:

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the plaintiff for direct financial losses caused by the contractor’s breach. Examples of these damages might include the cost of hiring another contractor to complete the work, or the difference in value between the promised work and the actual work performed.

Consequential Damages

Also known as special damages, consequential damages are losses that are not a direct result of the unfinished work itself, but are a consequence of the breach. For example, if the unfinished work caused significant delays in moving into a new property, resulting in additional temporary living expenses, those expenses may be recoverable.

Lost Profits

In some cases, the unfinished work may have been intended for a business or commercial purpose, and the contractor’s breach may lead to lost profits or business opportunities. These losses are also recoverable. Your attorney will calculate the estimated lost profits based on past performance or market projections.

Punitive Damages

In rare cases in Nevada, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the contractor if malicious or fraudulent misrepresentation of the contractor’s intent occurred. Generally, however, punitive damages are not awarded in breach of contract cases unless the conduct that constituted the breach of contract is also a tort that allows for punitive damages.

Liquidated Damages

Some contracts include a provision for liquidated damages. These are pre-determined amounts to be paid by the contractor in case of specific breaches. However, these clauses must be reasonable and not seen as penalties.

Attorney’s Fees and Court Costs

In some jurisdictions, the prevailing party in a lawsuit may be entitled to recover their attorney’s fees and court costs from the losing party.

How Do You Sue a Contractor for Unfinished Work?

If you and your attorney have exhausted other remedies, taking legal action may be your best option. Initiating a lawsuit for unfinished work in Nevada involves several steps. Your attorney will evaluate your case and help you navigate the legal process to ensure your rights are protected. Generally, the steps are as follows:

1. File a Complaint: The first step is to file a formal complaint against the contractor in the appropriate court. The complaint should outline the facts of the case, the legal claims made, and the damages sought.

2. Response: After the defendant is served with the complaint, the contractor will have a certain period to respond. The defendant may admit or deny the allegations. In some cases, they may file a counterclaim and may bring in other third-party defendants.

3. Discovery: During the discovery phase, both parties exchange relevant information and evidence. This may include documents, witness statements, photographs, and expert reports.

4. Mediation or Settlement: Before going to trial, the court may encourage both parties to attempt mediation or settlement negotiations to reach a resolution without a full trial. Your attorney will represent your interests as negotiations proceed.

5. Trial: If no settlement is reached, the case proceeds to trial. Both sides will have the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments before the court. The judge or jury will then determine liability and damages.

6. Enforce the Judgment: If the court rules in your favor and awards damages to you, your attorney will help you enforce the judgment to collect the compensation owed.

What Evidence Is Needed to Sue a Contractor for Unfinished Work?

It’s essential to gather evidence and documentation to support your claim for damages if a contractor failed to follow through with the terms of your contract. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Copies of the original contract and any amendments or change orders.
  • Records of payments made to the contractor and any outstanding balances.
  • Correspondence with the contractor, including emails, letters, and text messages regarding the unfinished work.
  • Photographs or videos of the unfinished work and any damages caused by the contractor’s actions or omissions.  You may also need an expert to prove causation and/or to identify poor workmanship and/or defects.
  • Quotes and invoices from other contractors or professionals hired to rectify the unfinished work or assess the damages.

The success of your claim will depend on the strength of the evidence and the legal arguments presented. Consulting with an experienced construction attorney is crucial to ensure your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for the losses you have suffered due to the contractor’s unfinished work.

What Is Latent Defect?

Latent defects are one of the two most common types of defects found in new home construction. Unlike patent defects, latent defects are not immediately noticeable to the naked eye during an inspection. These defects typically aren’t apparent in a home inspection or even during a walk-through.

Since 2000, Reno’s population growth has soared by nearly 50%. The demand for housing solutions has attracted a volume of builders. Unfortunately, sometimes new home builders try to ensure a speedy construction process and cut costs simultaneously. This can lead to defective construction. Since latent defects are more difficult to identify, they can often cause unseen damage over time and significant financial loss for families. A construction defect lawyer can help you understand your rights under Nevada law should you discover a latent defect in your home.

Common Types of Latent Defects

A latent defect is a deficiency that is hidden or hard to detect, even after a thorough inspection, because these defects may be hidden behind walls, under flooring, or within the soil, the home is built on. These areas may be inaccessible to the presumptive owner or their inspector and cannot be detected with a visual inspection, no matter how thorough.

Our firm has seen a number of different types of latent defects in the Northern Nevada region, including but not limited to, improperly prepared expansive clay soil, improperly compacted soil, improperly installed plumbing, improperly installed windows, roofs, etc.  The problem with latent defective conditions is that it could be years after a homeowner purchases the home before resultant damage is discovered.  For instance, expansive clay soil movement could take 6-8 years depending upon Nevada’s drought conditions to show the extensive drywall and/or stucco cracking that generally will occur.  Defectively installed and corroding plumbing systems could take years before a leak actually occurs in the walls or beneath a home. Hidden water damage and mold can occur for years before being noticed by a homeowner which can result in extremely costly remediation and repair of the home.  

How Do You Deal with Latent Defects?

It is very important to contact a construction defect attorney as soon as you see the damage that might be caused by a latent defect.  For instance, water intrusion through a defectively installed window, a roof leak, or severe drywall, or stucco cracking, could all be indicative of a very serious underlying and hidden defective condition.  An experienced construction defect attorney and a team of qualified experts will be able to help you determine what the cause of the damage is and who should be financially responsible for repair.

Contact your builder!  As soon as you see the damage being caused by a latent defect, contact your builder.  If your builder tells you that your home is out of warranty or is unwilling to help, then immediately contact an experienced construction defect attorney who can provide you with information regarding applicable statutes of repose and statutes of limitations that may apply to your claim.  Given that latent defects often take a while to manifest damage, it is important to act quickly once discovered so that you can file a timely claim.  The attorney’s role in the construction defect claim process involves making sure you meet the necessary deadlines.

Make sure to take a lot of photos and videos of any damage being caused by the latent defect so that you have good evidence to support your claim should you decide to pursue one. Nevada has a very strict prelitigation and litigation process for residential construction defect claims so make sure you consult with someone with adequate experience to preserve and pursue your construction defect claim.

Can You Sue a Contractor for Delays?

As a property owner, you may be able to sue a contractor for delays in the completion of a Nevada construction project. Not every construction delay is grounds for a lawsuit against a contractor, however. Depending on the cause of the delay, whether a liquidated damages provision exists, and whether the delay is unreasonable, you may have grounds to sue.  

What Are Common Causes of Construction Delays?

Delays are common in the construction industry in Nevada, and sometimes they are unavoidable. In other cases, however, contractors, suppliers, and even property owners unreasonably cause construction projects to be held up. 

Common culprits of construction delays that may be excusable include:

  • Severe weather 
  • Natural disasters
  • Scheduling conflicts
  • Budget issues
  • Miscommunication
  • Supply shortages

However, sometimes unreasonable construction delays are caused by the intentional or negligent actions of the property owner or contractor. While you cannot generally sue a contractor for delays that you caused, or issues that are out of the contractor’s control, you may have grounds for a lawsuit if the contractor acted intentionally, negligently and/or if an applicable liquidated damages provision exists in the contract.

When Can You Sue a Contractor for Delays?

If a construction delay is caused by the negligence or intentional actions of the contractor, or someone the contractor is responsible for, and the company fails to deliver promptly, you may be able to file a lawsuit and hold the contractor accountable for delays. If the contractor is responsible for causing the delay, a lawsuit can help you recover compensation for some of the financial losses you incurred.

The penalty for contractors not finishing on time is generally handled as a breach of contract claim. But, to get compensation, you must have a valid contract and prove that the defendant committed a breach without any excusable reason.  Additionally, there either needs to be a liquidated damages provision or actual damages suffered. 

However, if you’re to blame for delays, a contractor may be able to sue you. This is because unnecessary hold-ups on your end can lead to loss of revenue for the contractor.  

Types of Construction Delay Claims

Construction delay claims fall under the following categories:

Excusable vs. Inexcusable Delays

An excusable delay is unforeseeable and beyond a contractor’s control. For instance, a hurricane or tornado can strike when builders are halfway through a project, crippling their progress. Likewise, a disaster like a fire or flood can make work unsafe for construction workers.

Excusable delays should be outlined in your construction contract. When an excusable delay is in play, you may need to offer the contractor additional time, compensation, or both. 

On the contrary, an inexcusable delay is one that a contractor is entirely responsible for and could have avoided. For instance, a builder that doesn’t show up on the job site consistently, or overbooks their workers, may be liable for damages.

Critical vs. Non-Critical Delays

In the construction industry, a critical delay negatively impacts project completion or a milestone date. Critical delays tack extra time onto the completion of the project as a whole.

Issues that can lead to critical delays include budget inaccuracies or wrong estimates. Improper financial planning can undermine the contractor’s ability to buy materials and pay workers. That can impede the project’s progress or halt operations altogether, causing stagnation.

A non-critical delay is one that impacts certain activities but does not affect the ultimate completion date of the project or important milestones. 

You can use the critical path method to determine whether a specific issue is a critical or non-critical delay.

Concurrent Delays

Concurrent delays refer to a scenario where two simultaneous events impede a construction project’s progress. These delays can happen when at least two independent causes of delay occur or delay events during the same period. You and your contractor can also encourage this issue’s manifestation by delaying the project on two parallel critical path chains.

What Damages Can Property Owners Recover for Construction Delays?

If a delay has affected your construction project and the contractor is found to be at fault, you may be able to sue for the following damages, depending on the language in the applicable contract documents.

Lost Productivity

Construction delays can cause a loss of productivity for business owners. If you are a business owner who manufactures or produces a product on the property in question, and the contractor’s delay interfered with your productivity, the contractor can be held liable for your losses.


As a project drags on and takes longer than expects, you may be subjected to additional costs of transporting personnel, supplies, and equipment from the site. When that happens, you can claim compensation for demobilization.

Equipment Rental Costs

Depending on the construction project, you may need to rent machines and tools like excavators, bucket loaders, hammer drills, and air compressors. The longer you use them, the more you have to pay a rental company. You may be able to recover compensation for your expenses through a construction delay claim.

Storage and Relocation Charges

If you had to pay to store your furnishings or equipment while your home or building was under construction, a delay in the project can result in additional storage charges.  Additionally, if you are paying expenses for other housing or business location arrangements during the course of construction, a loss of use or relocation damages claim may exist.  These types of damages may be recoverable as part of the breach of contract claim.

Increased Material Costs

Sometimes, contractors delay projects by weeks or months. During this period, the price of materials may rise. The cost difference can affect your budget and completion timeline. 

Liquidated Damages

Some construction contracts will have a liquidated damages provision that may identify a per-day amount for every day the project goes beyond the completion date specified in the contract.   This is often seen in commercial construction contracts.

Can a Contractor Deny a Delay Claim?

A contractor can question the viability of a delay claim on the following grounds:

  • Negligence on your part

A construction company may argue that delay causes or events were foreseeable and preventable from your end, but you failed to take the measures required to curb them. For instance, they may claim that you didn’t make the property available to them during a certain time frame, which ultimately caused the delay.

  • Ambiguous contract language

A contract between you and a construction company should discuss every aspect of delays in clear terms. It should have all the necessary details, including aspects of construction contracts that are often overlooked, as well as project schedules and a fixed completion time. It should also include ample time for providing delay notices.

If a contract has unclear terms and provisions, a contractor may be able to use its language to void your claim.  On the other hand, Nevada law will generally construe ambiguities in a contract against the drafter.  So, if the Contractor drafted the contract, then the ambiguous contract language could work in your favor.

Can a Contractor Sue an Owner for Delays?

In the same way that you may be able to sue a contractor for delays, the contractor may also be able to sue you in some situations. If you are responsible for causing a construction delay, you may be held liable for the contractor’s losses. Since even small delays can have a ripple effect, impacting workers, subcontractors, suppliers, and others, damages can add up quickly.  

How Long Is a Developer Responsible for Defects in Nevada?

Statutes of limitations and repose work together to limit the period you can hold a developer responsible for construction defects. In Nevada, the statute of limitations applicable to your case varies depending on the cause of action on which you base your construction defect lawsuit. The statute of repose is 10 years from the construction’s substantial completion date. However, this repose period does not apply to claims arising from fraud. The limitations period starts running once you have or should have discovered a defect or injury, but it doesn’t extend beyond the repose period. Some special circumstances may toll the statutes of limitations and repose. Below you’ll find a review of the rules and requirements that will help you better understand the answer to the question, “how long is a developer responsible for defects?”

How Long Is a Developer Responsible for Defects?

While statutes of limitations and repose limit the amount of time you can hold construction professionals liable for defects, they operate differently. It’s essential to understand their differences. Certain rules and circumstances can toll or extend the statutes of limitations and repose. You should also be aware that you’re required to give the developer or contractor notice and the right to repair before a lawsuit can be pursued.  In fact, there are very strict prelitigation procedures that must be followed which is why you should seek guidance from an experienced construction defect attorney.

What Are the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Construction Defect Claim?

Statutes of limitations are laws governing the time you have to file a lawsuit against a defendant after suffering some type of harm. A typical statute of limitation will give the number of years you have to file a claim after you discover or reasonably should have discovered the harm you suffered. Statutes of limitations help reduce and prevent cases of unfair prosecutions, witness disappearance or death, and loss of important evidence.

In construction defect cases, statutes of limitations bar legal actions against contractors or developers after a specified period after the discovery of the defective condition. The exact timing varies depending on the cause of action you’re pursuing in the lawsuit.  For example, the statute of limitations for a breach of written contract or written warranty is six years but is shorter for actions involving negligence.  Contact your local construction defect attorney to find out more.

What Is the Statute of Repose for Construction Defect Claims?

A statute of repose sets the final date by which you must file a lawsuit. Its timing is based on the occurrence of a particular event rather than the harm suffered. With regard to construction defects, the clock for the statute of repose usually starts ticking when the construction is substantially complete, for example, when the certificate of occupancy is issued for the property. When you fail to file an action by the final deadline, the developer can no longer be exposed to a potential lawsuit.

Without statutes of repose, the exposure of construction professionals to claims could run indefinitely because the discovery of a defect or injury may happen at any given time. The statute of repose sets a limit on how far the discovery rule can apply.

For example, the state’s statute of repose may give you 10 years from when the construction is substantially completed to pursue a claim, and the statute of limitations that applies to your case may be 6 years after discovering the defect. If you discover the defect 7 years after substantial completion of the construction, then you’ll only have three years remaining to file a claim, despite the applicable statute of limitation time frame. This analysis is not applicable to claims of fraud.  Contact an experienced attorney for more information.

Can the Statute of Limitations for Construction Defect Claims Be Extended?

Certain circumstances allow for the statute of limitations and repose to be tolled or extended. For instance, the statute of repose tolls if a construction professional engaged in fraud. You can bring a lawsuit at any time after substantial completion to recover damages if there was an act of fraud that caused the deficiency in planning, design, supervision, observation, or construction. This provision doesn’t apply to low-tiered subcontractors if they unknowingly concealed a fraud-related construction defect while performing their work.

In certain circumstances, the statutes of limitations may be tolled when repairs have been promised or are being made by the developer. This situation becomes very fact specific to your case, so it is important to contact an experienced attorney to discuss the timing of your claim.

Special rules or exceptions may apply to your case. Therefore, it’s best to talk to a construction defect attorney about your case before concluding that you have or don’t have a valid claim. The attorney will help you understand and navigate the statutes and any applicable exceptions. He or she will also help you prove any exceptions that should apply to your case.

NRS Chapter 40 Process

Before you can sue construction professionals for defects, you must notify them of the defects and give them a chance to repair them. The notice should contain reasonable details of the alleged defects. If the developer or contractor chooses to perform repairs, you should allow the developer to inspect and make those necessary repairs. There are very specific requirements for the pre-litigation, notice, inspection, and right to repair so it is best to consult with a construction defect lawyer to assist in the process.  One deficiency in the pre-litigation process could risk your overall case.

It is also important to note that even though there is a strong statutory right to repair, construction professionals cannot condition these offered repairs on a release agreement.  If a builder or contractor offers to make a repair to your home but wants you to sign something in return, make sure to have an experience attorney review the document first because you could end up barring future claims.

The NRS “Chapter 40” pre-litigation and the litigation process is very rule and expert-driven and can be very complex.  It is important to know how a construction defect attorney can assist you with the NRS Chapter 40 pre-litigation process, so you should timely contact a construction defect attorney if you observe problems with your home and are unable to get them resolved through the construction professional and/or the Nevada Contractor’s Board.

What Is the Attorney’s Role in the Construction Defect Claim Process?

The attorney’s role in the construction defect claim process is a critical one. When a construction defect is discovered, an attorney can help the owner of the property understand their legal rights and options. This may include reviewing the construction contract and any warranties that were provided, as well as the applicable laws and regulations.

What Is the Attorney’s Role in the Construction Defect Claim Process?

If the owner decides to pursue a claim for damages, the attorney can assist with gathering and organizing evidence, such as photographs, expert reports, and other documentation. The attorney can also negotiate with the other parties involved, such as the contractor, subcontractor, and any insurance companies, in an effort to reach a resolution.

If the parties are unable to resolve the issue through negotiation, the attorney will make sure that all prelitigation requirements are met and then assist filing a lawsuit on behalf of the owner. The attorney’s role in the construction defect claim process lets him or her represent the property owner in court and advocate for the victim’s rights and interests.

Throughout the process, the attorney can provide advice and guidance to the owner and help them understand the legal issues and options available to them.

What Qualifies as a Construction Defect?

A construction defect is a problem with the design, construction, or maintenance of a building or other structure that impairs its use, value, or safety. Some common types of construction defects include:

  1. Structural defects: These defects involve problems with the foundation, framing, or other structural elements of a building, and can include issues such as cracked foundations, sagging roofs, and collapsing walls.
  2. Water infiltration: Water infiltration defects involve problems with the building’s ability to keep out water, such as leaks, mold, and rot.
  3. Electrical defects: Electrical defects involve problems with the wiring, outlets, or other electrical components of a building and can include issues such as faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, and inadequate grounding.
  4. Plumbing defects: Plumbing defects involve problems with the pipes, fixtures, or other plumbing components of a building and can include issues such as leaks, blockages, and faulty water heaters.
  5. HVAC defects: HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) defects involve problems with the building’s heating and cooling systems and can include issues such as faulty thermostats, inefficient heating and cooling, and inadequate ventilation.

Construction defects can occur for a variety of reasons, including faulty design, poor workmanship, and the use of defective materials. It’s important to identify and address construction defects as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of the building.

What Are Some Common Construction Defect Injuries?

Construction defects can cause a wide range of injuries, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Some common types of construction defect injuries include slip and fall accidents or electrical injuries. 

Common Damages in Construction Defect Injury Cases

In a construction defect injury case, damages are typically the financial compensation that the injured party is seeking from the party or parties responsible for the defect.

Some common types of damages that may be sought in a construction defect injury case include the following:

  1. Medical expenses: This may include the cost of medical treatment, such as hospital stays, surgery, and rehabilitation.
  2. Lost wages: If the injury has caused the injured party to miss work, they may be able to recover damages for the wages they have lost as a result.
  3. Pain and suffering: The injured party may be able to recover damages for the physical pain and emotional suffering that they have experienced as a result of the injury.
  4. Property damage: If the construction defect has caused damage to the injured party’s property, such as their home or vehicle, they may be able to recover damages to repair or replace the damaged property.
  5. Loss of consortium: If the injury has had a negative impact on the injured party’s relationship with their spouse or other family members, they may be able to recover damages for the loss of consortium.

The amount of damages that may be recovered in a construction defect injury case will depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the severity of the injury. A construction defect attorney in Nevada can help the injured party assess their damages and determine the appropriate amount to seek in a claim or lawsuit.

How Long Does a Construction Defect Injury Case Take?

The length of a construction defect injury case can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the availability of evidence, and the willingness of the parties to reach a settlement.

In some cases, a construction defect injury case may be resolved relatively quickly through negotiation or mediation, and the parties may be able to reach a settlement within a few months.

In other cases, the case may take longer to resolve, especially if it goes to trial. A trial can take several months or even years to complete, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule.

It’s important to keep in mind that every case is different, and it’s difficult to predict exactly how long a construction defect injury case will take. An attorney can provide more information about the specific timeline for your case and help you understand the steps that will be involved in resolving your claim.

Can I Mediate a Construction Defect Injury Case?

Mediation is a process in which the parties to a dispute meet with a neutral third party, called a mediator, to try to resolve their differences and reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Mediation can be an effective way to resolve a construction defect injury case because it allows the parties to have control over the outcome of the case and to reach a resolution that is tailored to their specific needs and interests.

Mediation is voluntary. Both parties must agree to participate. If one party is not willing to mediate, the case may need to be resolved through other means, such as negotiation or litigation.

What Is Construction Negligence?

Construction negligence is the failure to use reasonable care in the design, construction, or maintenance of a building or other structure, resulting in harm or damages.

Construction negligence can occur when a contractor, architect, engineer, or other professional fails to meet the accepted standards of care in the industry and causes harm as a result.

Examples of construction negligence may include:

  1. Using faulty or defective materials in the construction of a building.
  2. Failing to follow proper building codes or industry standards.
  3. Failing to properly design or engineer a building or structure.
  4. Neglecting to properly supervise or train employees.
  5. Failing to properly maintain a building or structure.
  6. Failing to finish the building or structure

If you believe that you have been injured as a result of construction negligence, you may be able to seek damages through a personal injury lawsuit. It’s a good idea to speak with an attorney who is experienced in construction defect cases to understand your legal options and determine the best course of action.

What Is a Limited New House Warranty?

A limited new house warranty is a type of warranty that is provided by a builder or developer to a buyer of a new home. The warranty typically covers defects in materials and workmanship in the home for a certain period of time, usually one or two years.

A limited new house warranty typically does not cover normal wear and tear or damage caused by the homeowner. It is also important to note that a limited new house warranty is not the same as a homeowner’s insurance policy, which covers damages to the home caused by events such as fires, storms, and burglaries.

It’s a good idea to carefully review the terms of a limited new house warranty before purchasing a new home. The warranty should specify what is covered and what is not, as well as the process for making a claim if a defect is discovered. If you have any questions about the warranty, it’s a good idea to ask the builder or developer for clarification.

The Role of an Attorney in Defect Construction Cases

The role of an attorney in construction defect cases is critical. An attorney can help the injured party understand their legal rights and options, gather and organize evidence, negotiate with the other parties involved, and represent the injured party in court if necessary.

An attorney can also provide advice and guidance to the injured party throughout the process, helping them understand the legal issues and options available to them. An attorney can work with the injured party to assess their damages and determine the appropriate amount to seek in a claim or lawsuit.

If you have been injured as a result of a construction defect, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney who is experienced in construction defect cases. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and assist you in pursuing a claim for damages.

When Are Developers Liable in Construction Defect Case?

When are developers liable in a construction defect case? Developers could be liable in a construction defect case if they acted negligently during the construction process, failed to execute their contract, violated their warranty, or engaged in fraudulent activities. This legal responsibility applies even when the developer did not know about the defects, or stemmed from a third-party contractor. 

If you have detected a construction defect in your private, residential, or commercial property in Reno, Nevada, a construction defect lawyer can investigate your case and examine the evidence to prove liability on the part of the developer. 

What Is a Construction Defect?

A construction defect refers to aspects of a construction project that do not meet one or more contract provisions. Construction defects fall into two different groups: patent and latent. Patent defects constitute those problems that inspectors can identify through careful inspection. A perfect example of a patent defect is a missing roof tile that is noticeable during an inspection. 

Latent defects include those that inspectors cannot detect through careful inspection. An example of a latent defect is a leaking roof without visible leak marks. Such a defect may take a few years to become obvious. 

Establishing Legal Liability for Construction Defects

When a homeowner becomes aware of a construction defect, he or she can establish liability under different legal theories.


Developers have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care and caution when handling a construction project. Failure to use reasonable care in a construction project amounts to negligence. In this case, you need to show that a reasonably careful developer with similar training would have avoided the defect in the same or similar conditions.


You discover a construction defect in your project immediately or after several years, and the defect was caused because the developer was negligent. You can hold the company liable for damages resulting from the developer’s negligent actions. 

Third parties injured by a construction defect can also hold the original developer liable for their injuries. These third parties include future buyers or tenants of the property.

A developer is also liable for construction defects caused by negligent subcontractors. Plumbers, electricians, and carpenters are examples of subcontractors in construction projects. 

Breach of Contract 

A developer can be liable for construction defects for failure to satisfy the terms of a construction contract. A breach of contract claim generally arises when a developer violates a duty spelled out in the contract, disregards escrow instructions, or fails to comply with purchase or sale documentation. 

Courts usually rely on the principle of substantial performance when a breach of contract claim arises in construction defect cases. The court deems the contract complete if the developer delivered a completed project but failed to meet all the contract specifications. 

However, even upon substantial completion, the homeowner will not be liable for the total cost of the contract. Instead, the homeowner will pay the difference between the full contract price and the diminished value of the property caused by the defect. 


Let’s say a developer has a contract price of $300,000 to construct a commercial property. A subcontractor hired by the developer performs electrical wiring incorrectly. The faulty electrical wiring lowers the property’s market value by $30,000. In this scenario, you will only need to pay the developer $270,000 for constructing your commercial property. 

Breach of Warranty

The same principles of breach of contract apply to breach of warranty. The difference is that the developer failed to honor the warranty, not the contract. A construction contract may feature warranties for the property or products.


Let’s say a developer offers a three-year warranty on your newly constructed property. You then detect a defect within three years. In this situation, the developer should remove the defect. You might have a breach of warranty claim if the developer fails or refuses to repair the defect. 

Strict Liability

Nearly all states, including Nevada, have an implied warranty of habitability. This warranty promises that a particular property or building is suitable for human occupation and imposes strict liability on the developer. 

You don’t have to prove that the developer acted negligently in a construction defect case involving strict liability. Instead, you only need to provide evidence to show that the developer constructed the property, the property has a construction defect, and the defect makes the residence uninhabitable because it violates the provisions of the Nevada housing or health codes. 


Fraud in construction defect cases arises when a developer deliberately misleads a property owner regarding the quality of a construction project. Knowingly making untrue statements or advertisements may amount to fraud. The developer may, for instance, state that a roof is leak-free when the roof leaks easily. 

Negligent Misrepresentation 

Negligent misrepresentation happens when a developer says something is a fact despite not having evidence to substantiate the assertions. 


The developer tells you that your roof can withstand the weight of three feet of standing snow, even though he or she does not know how much weight the roof can bear. The roof collapses during a winter storm with heavy snowfall. The developer cannot justify his or her claim when you seek answers. 

Recoverable Damages in Construction Defect Cases 

What types of damages can be recovered in a construction defect case in Nevada? You can recover repair costs in a construction defect case. These repair costs cover the design fees, developer fees, and construction manager charges. You can also recover relocation expenses if you must move out of the house during the repairs. The cost incurred by a consultant in defect detection and documentation is also recoverable. The amount of compensation recovered will depend on the facts and circumstances of your construction defect case. 

How Can a Construction Defect Lawyer Help You? 

The cost of fixing construction defects can be high. Some defects can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Others can even reach millions of dollars, especially when a high-value construction project is involved. Defects that remain undetected for years can damage your property and valuable possessions and potentially result in injuries or fatalities.

The best step to take immediately after suspecting or detecting a problem is to involve a construction defect lawyer. The lawyer will review the specific facts of your case and explain your rights. 

The lawyer will open an investigation into the case to compile all the information and evidence required to prove the developer’s negligence. This investigation may involve hiring a construction professional to inspect the building and prepare a competent inspection report. 

After investigating your case, your lawyer will help you navigate the mandatory prelitigation process in Nevada. The prelitigation process requires homeowners to give the developer adequate notice of the construction defect and allow an opportunity to remedy the defect.

If the developer refuses to remedy the defect or is unable to remedy the defect, your attorney can help you file a lawsuit to recover damages. Most lawsuits settle before reaching trial. Your lawyer can use the evidence he or she has collected to aggressively negotiate on your behalf. If negotiations fail, he or she can take your case to trial and argue for you in front of a jury. 

Did your negligent developer file bankruptcy? Not to worry. Your lawyer can help you file a claim with the developer’s liability insurance or pursue a claim against subcontractors after seeking leave from the bankruptcy court.

Whatever challenges you are facing in your construction defect case, a construction lawyer can help you overcome them.

What Is Construction Negligence?

Construction negligence happens when a project fails to comply with building codes and standards of care. Negligence at any stage of a construction project can threaten the safety of occupants and the integrity of the affected structure. Construction negligence commonly arises during the actual construction or repair of a building, but it can occur during the design phase of a project as well.

Types of Construction Defects 

Construction defects fall into two categories: patent and latent.

The difference between patent and latent construction defects is that patent defects refer to known or obvious construction deficiencies or those easily detectable after inspection. Latent defects are hidden construction deficiencies or those that are hard to detect even after a thorough inspection because the defect may be hidden behind walls or under flooring. The most common types of construction defects include: 

Design Defects 

Design defects stem from the failure of an engineer or architect to create error-free and properly organized construction designs. They can arise by error, inaccuracy, or omission. A redesign or replacement of a specific component may help rectify an error-related design defect. 

Material Defects 

These defects occur because of defective, damaged, or insufficient building material. Material defects arising from the manufacturer may be detected too late in the construction process to remedy the defect, or after the project is complete. For this reason, material defects may be costly to correct. 

Workmanship Defects 

These defects arise when a contractor does not comply with specific building codes or standards during construction of a structure or a component. Workmanship defects can also happen when builders use unskilled labor to cut costs. In fact, using unskilled labor is one of the signs the builder cut corners.

What Are Examples of Construction Negligence?

Architect and Builder

An architect provides inaccurate information to a builder making a trench for electrical cables. The builder damages a water pipe, causing the neighbor’s property to flood. The architect may be liable to the builder for violating the duty to provide accurate information. The architect may also be liable for the flood and damages caused. 

Builder and Pedestrian 

A builder fails to construct catch platforms to keep falling materials from hitting those walking near a construction site. A ladder falls on a pedestrian passing near the construction site. The builder may be legally responsible for the pedestrian’s injuries for failing to observe reasonable safety standards. 

Builder and Homeowner 

A contractor or builder constructs a house with foundation problems. Upon inspection, the homeowner discovers the issue. The homeowner has the right to hold the builder or contractor liable for damages arising from his or her negligent work. 

Attempts by home builders to speed up the construction process while controlling costs are one of the main factors fueling the construction defect pandemic. Unfortunately, home builders sometimes take shortcuts when the existing home inventory cannot meet the skyrocketing demand for homes. 

Duty of Care in Construction Negligence Cases 

Duty of care is a legal term that describes the level of responsibility of parties involved in the construction process. These parties have a legal duty to obey safety standards and building regulations to prevent defects and accidents during the construction project. This duty of care covers construction workers, homeowners, commercial property owners, homeowners’ associations, residents, and subsequent property buyers.

Multiple parties may be in charge of duty of care in a construction project. The reason is that different parties may take over management or supervisory responsibilities during construction. These parties could include:

  • Architects 
  • Engineers 
  • General contractors 
  • Subcontractors 
  • Surveyors 
  • Project managers 

How Do Courts Establish Construction Negligence? 

Construction professionals must employ reasonable care, expertise, and workmanship during construction. Damages, including injuries, construction defects, or monetary losses, may arise if these parties are negligent in their actions. 

Proving construction negligence in the court is an arduous task. You must prove specific elements to win a construction negligence case. A construction defect lawyer can compile the evidence and convincing arguments required to prove these four elements. 

Duty of Care 

As mentioned earlier, a contractor owes a homeowner the duty to observe safety standards and relevant building codes. This duty of care kicks in once the contractor signs a construction contract with the homeowner or when a builder decides to build a home that will be sold to the public. 

Violation of Duty of Care 

After establishing the duty of care, you must demonstrate that the contractor violated his or her duty of care. Your lawyer will help you show that the contractor acted negligently and failed to fulfill the contract provisions, generally through the assistance of a litigation construction expert witness.


This element requires you (or the lawyer) to show that the contractor’s actions directly led to your injury, damages, or losses. Your injury, damage, or loss could have been prevented if the contractor or builder had honored his or her duty of care. 


You must show that you suffered real damages due to the contractor’s negligent actions. Foundation damage, mold growth, and exterior cracking, for instance, may indicate negligence on the part of the contractor. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations/Repose for Construction Negligence? 

The deadline for filing a construction negligence claim varies with state and local law. Nevada, for instance, has a 10-year statute of repose after substantial project completion. This deadline applies unless claims arise from fraud. 

The fraud exception under Nevada’s statute of repose excludes junior subcontractors if they unintentionally conceal fraud-related construction defects. This unintentional concealment by junior subcontractors must be “reasonable.” Your lawyer can help you understand your state-specific statute of limitations and statute of repose and how to proceed with the case.

Then the 3-year Nevada statute of limitations for negligence also comes into play, which triggers from when you knew or should have known of the defective condition.  Both the statute of repose and statute of limitation will be applied so it is important to contact a construction defect attorney so that you understand your deadline to file an action. 

How A Construction Defect Attorney Can Assist in Your Case 

A construction defect attorney is a crucial legal resource in establishing construction negligence and recovering damages. An attorney who has handled construction negligence cases before will know the rules, regulations, and court decisions that apply to your case. The attorney can help your case in the following ways: 

Determining Damages 

A construction defect attorney can investigate your case and build a claim that accounts for the full extent of your damages. The attorney can assemble evidence to help prove how the contractor’s negligent action directly caused your damages, losses, or injuries. This is usually done by hiring experts for the types of defects present at the home.

Mastery of Construction Rules and Regulations 

Local and state rules are the bedrock of construction law. A lawyer who understands your local laws can easily identify incidents of local building code violations and all pre-litigation and litigation requirements. 

Accessing Qualified Construction Professionals 

Construction Defect Lawyers Ardea G. Canepa-Rotoli, Robert C. Maddox and Eva G. Segerblom

Construction defect attorneys regularly work with engineers, architects, and other qualified individuals in the construction industry. They can tap into these work relationships to find a qualified person to examine the structure and determine whether the contractor followed the relevant standard of care and codes. 

Bringing an Expert Witness on Board 

You may need an expert witness to testify for you to win a construction negligence case. The witness can explain to the Jury or Judge the applicable safety standards and building regulations in your area. The witness can then show how your contractor or builder breached those standards and regulations. 

Other contractors, engineers, builders, or other parties with specific information about the construction in question may qualify as expert witnesses. Your lawyer will know whom to bring on board as an expert witness.

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