Construction Defects in Maryland: What Homeowners Need to Know
As a homeowner, it can be very disheartening to learn that your home is suffering from a construction defect. While you may have the right to seek money damages from the careless home builders who caused the defect, some Maryland homeowners have been dismayed to find that they waited too long to bring a claim against those responsible and no longer had a right to do so. Read on to learn about the main categories of construction defect, and the strict limits that Maryland imposes on claims for construction defect damages.
Construction defect claims, defined
Legal claims based on construction defects are largely divided into two categories: patent and latent defects. Patent defects are those that are immediately identifiable or obvious to an observer, such as a home built with three bedrooms when the contract called for two, or a poorly-constructed roof that is collapsing. Latent defects are those which can’t be seen immediately, such as the use of an inappropriate type of cement for the house’s foundation which will eventually crack.
Defects can also be divided into defects of design and those of workmanship. When the designer or architect of the home either makes an error in designing an element of the house, or erroneously omits an element of the home in their designs, then the designer can be held liable for the resulting defect. If the contractor fails to properly follow the designs when constructing some element of the home, or otherwise poorly executes an element of the home’s construction, then this will be considered a workmanship defect and can result in liability for the contractor.
Maryland’s Statute of Repose
In many areas of the law, when harm caused by negligence isn’t immediately apparent, a victim of negligence is allowed to file a lawsuit within a certain number of years of learning of the negligence. In other words, if a homeowner didn’t learn that their home’s foundation was improperly laid until 15 years after it was built, then the time limit on when they could file suit would only begin to run when they discovered the foundation’s defect. However, Maryland has strict rules on when a homeowner can sue based on a construction defect. Maryland’s Statute of Repose bars homeowners from suing a builder for negligence more than 20 years after a home is built. This law also bars homeowners from suing negligent architects or engineers more than 10 years after a home was defectively designed. These limits apply regardless of when the defect was discovered by the homeowner, or when the homeowner came to own the house in question. As a result, homeowners must be proactive in properly inspecting their home for any defects and following up on any leaks or cracks that form so that they learn of defects before the time runs out to bring a claim.
If you have learned of a construction defect in your Maryland home, find out if you have a claim for damages against a negligent designer or builder by contacting the knowledgeable and effective Annapolis real estate and construction attorneys at the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans III at 410-626-6009.