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Is it too late to sue for a home construction defect?

Many homeowners fret over flaws they notice in their house such as cracks in the plaster or a little water in the basement.

But for some, the nightmare scenario is finding a truly expensive or even dangerous defect in the construction of their home. And some homeowners do face genuine defects noticed as their house is being constructed or long ago built into their existing home.

Can you still sue the designers or contractors responsible for the defect? It’s an obvious question since we often live in homes for many years and some defects may take a while to become apparent.

Racing against the deadlines

Ordinarily, states have a statute of limitations that limits the time you have between finding a construction defect (or when you can be reasonably expected to have found it) and filing suit.

In Illinois for example, you must file suit within four years after finding the defect (or after you can be reasonable expected to have found it). In Missouri, you have five years.

But there’s also a second limit known as the “statute of repose.” It caps the total time after construction was completed in which you must file suit, regardless of when you discovered the defect. In both Illinois and Missouri, that cutoff is ten years.

In Missouri, there’s yet another wrinkle. There, the construction professional has the “right to cure” the problem, either by repair work or payment, within two years of being notified of the issue. After the two years, if the problem is not fixed and the other time limits have not expired, a lawsuit could still be an option.

It’s only a tiny window into the many complexities of construction defect law. Given also the typically large costs associated with major construction repairs, seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is likely to be a solid decision.

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David M. Duree and Associates, P.C.
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