Houston Construction Defect Attorneys
Construction Defect Claims in Texas
Construction defects are a common cause of disputes and litigation in the construction industry. Projects that fail to meet certain standards or comply with contractual requirements – whether as a result of product failure, faulty plans or specifications, or the way the work was performed – can require costly repairs and cause delays.
Rarely do parties involved agree on the causes and liabilities of a construction defect. That’s why determining a defect’s underlying cause (i.e. design, construction, or defects in products and materials used) is one of the most important steps in preparing a defect claim. It is a task that demands meticulous investigation and collaboration with relevant experts prior to litigation or arbitration.
On This Page
- Why Choose Hendershot Cowart P.C.
- What Is a Construction Defect?
- Types of Construction Defect Claims
- Construction Defect Cause of Action and Remedy
- What Is the Statute of Limitations for Construction Defects in Texas?
Why Choose Hendershot Cowart P.C.?
At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our attorneys have a long record of success guiding property owners, contractors, subcontractors, and others through the process of pursuing or defending construction defect claims. Backed by over a century of collective legal experience, our team is deeply familiar with construction methods, the contractual obligations of the various parties, and the remedies available. Our clients know they can rely on our construction litigation team to resolve complex construction defect disputes efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Serving Clients Across Texas and U.S. Since 1987
- Proven Results in Complex Construction Defect Claims
- Flexibility in Litigating or Arbitrating Resolutions
- A Focus on Closely Guiding Clients Through High-Stakes Disputes
What Is a Construction Defect?
Commercial construction projects are subject to the terms and conditions of a contract, as well as the rules and regulations of the industry and municipality in which they are built. Generally, contracts between owners and contractors and between contractors and subcontractors will typically require work to:
- Be constructed in line with project plans and specifications;
- Meet all applicable building codes and standards; and
- Be in accordance with accepted standards of the industry and good construction practice.
When projects fail to conform to contractual requirements, or fail to comply with accepted principles, industry standards for workmanship and care, or regulatory code, it may constitute a construction defect, and may give rise to litigation.
Construction defect disputes can involve a range of individuals and entities, including property owners, developers, general contractors and subcontractors, architects and engineers, suppliers and vendors, product manufacturers, and lenders.
Types of Construction Defect Claims
While the best way to avoid liability and the disruption of litigation is to structure sound contracts and quality control strategies to prevent defects from happening in the first place, avoiding defect disputes is not always possible. As such, our construction law team at Hendershot Cowart P.C. provides immediate representation to clients who need to bring or defend against various claims, including those involving:
- Defective design, faulty, engineering, and inadequate plans or specifications
- Use of unapproved or defective materials, including defective concrete
- Failure to meet building, electrical, and safety code
- Environmental violations
- Grading and soil problems, water damage, drainage, and flooding
- Roof collapse, structural and foundation problems
- Nonconforming construction materials
Defective Design: Construction Defect Claims Against Architects
Contracts between architects and owners, or architects and consultants (i.e. engineers), require a project’s design to comply with applicable building code and standards, and meet a certain standard of care. When design professionals fail to meet these obligations, there may be grounds for legal action.
In Texas, construction claims filed against an architect, engineer, or surveyor over defective design must be accompanied by a supporting Certificate of Merit, an affidavit of a third-party professional who is licensed, registered, and knowledgeable in the same professional field as the defendant, and willing to testify about their work and alleged defects (Tex. Civ. Prac. and Rem. Code § 150.001 et seq.)
Failure to retain an expert, follow procedural rules, or structure sound arguments when bringing claims against design professionals can lead to case dismissal or unfavorable results.
Construction Defect Cause of Action and Remedy
Resolving construction defect claims efficiently and effectively is a challenging task. Our experienced attorneys can assist clients in evaluating options for resolution, including out-of-court negotiations, mediation, and construction arbitration or litigation.
Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding a case, construction defects may involve various causes of action and disputes, including:
- Breach of contract
- Breach of Warranty (express or implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose)
- Negligence and negligent misrepresentation
- Fraud and fraud inducement
- Indemnity and contribution
- Quantum meruit (unjust enrichment)
- Insurance coverage disputes
- Construction liens or “mechanic’s” liens
Each of these causes of action has its distinct elements, defenses, and legal remedies. Contractual claims, for example, which are common in construction dispute cases, require plaintiffs to prove a breach of provisions in a contract. They may also permit a prevailing party to seek damages for loss of use, diminution in value, punitive damages, costs of repair and extra expenses incurred while defects are corrected, as well as specific performance, injunction, attorneys’ fees and other equitable remedies.
Whether you need to win a breach of contract claim or defend against arbitration or litigation, Hendershot Cowart P.C. has the breadth of experience and professional resources to protect your rights and help you make informed decisions about your available options. This includes evaluating your dispute to not only identify viable claims and counter-claims, but also the most appropriate forum for resolution.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Construction Defects in Texas?
Civil legal actions are subject to a statute of limitations which establish a time limit by which plaintiffs must file their claims. If the statutory window expires, plaintiffs will not be able to bring legal action over alleged defects, and will not be able to recover damages or relief.
While every case is different, the statutes of limitations for claims related to construction defects in Texas are generally as follows:
- Contract Actions: Four years from the date of the underlying cause of action; in some cases, parties can contractually reduce this timeframe, but at no less than two years.
- Torts: Most tort claims, including negligence and negligent misrepresentation, are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. For tort claims alleging breach of fiduciary duty or fraud, the statute of limitations is four years.
- Insurance Claims: Claims over insurance disputes, including bad faith, are subject to a two-year statute of limitations.
While the statute of limitations typically begins on the date the defendant’s action causes legal injury to the plaintiff, there are situations where the accrual date may be deferred or tolled, such as in cases where the plaintiff does not discover the defect until a later date (the discovery rule), or cases involving fraudulent concealment (often used as the primary vehicle for extending the limits of contract claims in lieu of the discovery rule).
In construction defect litigation, it is the general rule that the statute of limitations begins when the plaintiff becomes aware of the property damage.
The discovery rule applies to negligence claims, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and other torts, but does not typically apply to contract claims, though it may in some cases where a fiduciary duty existed. Further, plaintiffs will have the burden of pleading the discovery rule, and proving the underlying defect was inherently undiscoverable and objectively verifiable or, if alleging fraudulent concealment, proving the elements thereof.
Matters involving the statute of limitations can be complex, and are highly fact-specific. As such, we encourage anyone with a potential claim to bring their case to the attention of our experienced attorneys as soon as possible so that the merits and time restrictions can be thoroughly vetted.
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Hendershot Cowart P.C. has cultivated a reputation for our work handling complex and high-stakes claims, including those arising from construction defects and construction delays, or matters involving construction liens on residential or commercial property.
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