Although construction litigation can be complex and often requires expert testimony, one of the most complicated areas is simply determining the timeframe a party has to bring forth an action in New York.
For a defect to be construction based, it can range in scope from a contractors failure to perform to completion of the project, to gross deviations from the approved construction plans and specifications.
Defects exist throughout all construction projects and it’s likely no construction project is ever completed perfectly. In New York construction however, perfection is not the legal standard by which construction is generally measured. The standard used to judge completed construction is the ordinary and reasonable skill that is usually exercised by architects, engineers, contractors and others in that work.Therefore, not all defects are necessarily actionable under New York construction law.
Like the strings of a marionette puppet, after the completion of a New York construction project there are various legal theories that serve as ties between the builder and the owner. For the builder, the sooner these lingering ties can be removed the less exposure they face for claims of defects. For the owners, the longer they are able to establish these connections the longer they may have legal recourse against the builder for defects, should that be necessary.
Construction is filled with countless risks, from weather conditions, labor strikes, material unavailability, subsurface conditions, inaccurate plans, and specifications, among others variables. Each has the potential to delay the project, cause increased completion costs, and increase the likelihood of disputes, liens, or litigation. Problems stemming from inaccurate plans and specs can quickly become the obstacles of others beyond just the design professional itself.
It is certain that New York construction law imposes principal responsibility for plan and specification accuracy on the design professional itself. The design professional is required to use the degree of skill, knowledge, and judgment generally used by other design professionals in the same geographic area.
Many homeowners who consult with me regarding construction disputes are not only financially damaged but emotionally distressed, and understandably so. Our homes are not only our biggest financial investments but our sanctuaries, and misconduct by unscrupulous contractors that damages those sanctuaries makes us feel that we have no place of safety and, in some instances, makes us worry that we may be homeless altogether. Thus, the question is often posed to me whether homeowners can collect damages for emotional distress that results from construction contract disputes, in addition to their economic damages.
Like the strings of a marionette puppet, after the completion of a New York construction project, there are various legal theories that serve as ties between the builder and the owner. For the builder, the sooner these lingering ties can be removed the less exposure they face for claims of defects. For the owners, the longer they are able to establish these connections, the longer they may have legal recourse against the builder for defects.
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