Latent defects are one of the two most common types of defects found in new...
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 prelitigation, 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 prelitigation 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” prelitigation and the litigation process is very rule and expert-driven and can be very complex. It is important to 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.