Construction defects pose a significant risk to any project. When faced with a construction defect claim, a builder must defend their work and ensure their business is not wrongly held responsible.
Georgia law has prelitigation requirements for construction defect claims under the Right to Repair Act. As a builder, familiarizing yourself with the process can help you respond appropriately to any claims before anyone brings them to court.
Receiving the notice
You must receive a written notice from the building owner at least 90 days before they can initiate a lawsuit. This notice should be sent through certified mail or they can have it delivered overnight. This must also include a request for a return receipt. Note that if the defective construction resulted in a personal injury or death, this notice requirement may not apply.
Thirty days response time
After receiving the notice, you, as the contractor, have 30 days to respond in writing. As for your response, you may either propose to have the house inspected, or you may opt to settle without any assessment.
If you propose an inspection, the building owner must provide access to their facility within 30 days. Once the inspection is complete, you must serve them a written offer within 14 days. This offer may include fully or partially fixing the defect with any cost, settling with a monetary payment or both.
If you opt for settlement, you may propose to pay them, offer repairs or both. If you believe no repair is necessary, you have the right not to do so. However, you must provide a written statement that explains why you refuse to fix the defect.
When can you be sued?
There are several scenarios when a building owner may proceed in filing a lawsuit against you:
- If the building owner rejected your settlement offer
- If you refused to fix the defects
- If you did not respond within 30 days
- If you agreed to fix the defect or make a monetary payment but did not fulfill your obligation
However, once you are able to fix the defect following the terms of your offer, the building owner cannot file a lawsuit for the same defect. If the repair does not meet the terms of the offer, they may still be able to pursue legal action or initiate the notice process again.
Remember, you should not be responsible for a perceived construction defect if you are not at fault. By following these requirements, you can effectively address construction defect claims and protect your business’s reputation in the construction industry.