Articles Posted in HOME DEFECT DISPUTES & LITIGATION

Over the years I have handled many construction claims in my Atlanta, Georgia Construction Litigation Law Firm. Many intricacies to construction litigation are not understood by attorneys that do not normally litigate or arbitrate these types of cases. Two of the key concerns of plaintiffs in any Georgia construction dispute are to determine who is liable for Georgia commercial or residential construction defects, and who will pay for the damages that can be recovered. With possibly dozens of workers who touched the worksite, including architects, builders, contractors and independent sub-contractors, it can be difficult to sort out what exactly caused the issue and who the responsible party is.

Many people would automatically assume that the officers and employees of the construction company, when incorporated, would be protected from liability. But under Georgia law, there are ways to assign responsibility to construction company representatives, even when the company is incorporated. Having the construction litigation experience to address these issues effectively is critical. As a result, retaining legal counsel from an experienced Georgia construction litigation and arbitration lawyer is necessary to obtain a favorable outcome.

Besides providing representation for property owners with claims, construction litigation and arbitration attorneys can help construction companies and contractors in Georgia assess risk and organize defenses against potential claims. In today’s tough economic climate, builders and construction companies cannot afford to lose money on lawsuits that expend precious resources. Retaining the best possible Atlanta, Georgia construction legal counsel will save time and money for defendants.
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As an Atlanta, Georgia construction lawyer who focuses on Georgia home construction defects, I am well aware that an improperly installed roof can quickly compromise the total structure of the building it was meant to protect. A sound roof is similar to a solid foundation; a sound roofing system will shield a home from the elements and prevent water damage, energy loss and insect and animal infestations. This is aside from the direct, more open and obvious damages an improper roof can cause.

Quite often in the case of roofing, out of sight is out of mind. It is easy to overlook hard to reach parts of a house and multi-story structures and roof slopes can make self-inspection difficult. It is well worth the money spent to have your roof properly and thoroughly checked for Georgia roofing construction defects that can cause deterioration and damage. This is true even though a roofing professional needs to be hired to perform this task.

Some roofing deterioration is a part of age, but other conditions are a result of poor workmanship and cost cutting by installers. Whenever hiring a roofing company, it is best to personally oversee any roofing work that is done. But many times this is not possible, especially when purchasing an older home that has just been re-roofed, or a new home several months after construction is complete. Once a roofing defect is suspected, it is important to retain an Atlanta, Georgia Construction Defect Attorney to help recover damages.

Understanding some of the key components of a good roofing system will help homeowners recognize the types of roofing defects that cause future structural damage.

• Decking – This is the base, into which shingles are nailed. In newer homes plywood is the most common decking material.

Shingles – Improperly installed or sub-standard shingles will deteriorate more rapidly and shorten the life of your roof. Shingles come in many types, including asphalt, wood, metal and clay. Asphalt shingles are the most economical and common type. Bald spots on asphalt shingles indicate a loss of granules and, if the roof is newer, can indicate poor shingle quality.

Roof Vents and Soffits – When venting is sufficient, it prolongs the life of the roof by removing heat and moisture from the attic. Improperly installed, or insufficient venting, can cause excessive energy usage (to cool and heat the home) and be the source of structural damage, such as deck warping, and mold/mildew. In cold climates during the winter, heat buildup in the attic can lead to the formation of ice dams on the roof that cause leaking.

Flashing – Flashing, when installed properly, will stop water from entering the home around vent pipes, chimneys, skylights and where the roof might meet an exterior wall surface.

Gutters and eaves troughs – These systems carry water off the roof and away from the foundation. A poorly designed drainage system on a pitched roof will not usually cause leaks, but can damage the home’s foundation. For flat roofs, improperly designed drainage will eventually compromise the roofing material and cause leaks.

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In my career as an Atlanta, Georgia construction lawyer, I have found that Georgia builders and contractors commonly rely on the one-year new home warranty, mandated by state law, to shield them from accountability for home construction defects. Unfortunately, many new homeowners are unaware that in Georgia, the one-year warranty period does not set a time limit on their ability to rectify Georgia construction defect issues. The fact is that homeowners can sue for compensation related to defects that are discovered after the warranty period has expired.

To ensure proper treatment for home defect issues, it is imperative to consult with an experienced Georgia Real Estate Construction Lawyer as soon as the defects are discovered. An effective strategy for fighting construction defects is to file a breach of construction contract claim. Breach of contract can consist of the builder or contractor not using the proper materials for the job, failure to build the structure to industry standards, poor workmanship on the project and incomplete work. The Georgia statute of limitations for claims involving breach of written contracts is six years, which in many cases is sufficient time for defects to surface. What is more, the statute of limitations only begins to run on latent defects when they are discovered or should have been discovered.

A lawyer qualified to handle Georgia construction breach of contract disputes can guide homeowners through the options for recovering financial losses already incurred and for obtaining monies to repair home defects. Builders and contractors frequently will try to convince homeowners that the one-year warranty period precludes them from having to make an effort to resolve the defects. In these cases the builder is mistaken. Nevertheless, consulting with an Atlanta, Georgia home defect attorney immediately is a prudent first step toward confronting the builder or contractor and the process of forcing the responsible party to correct any problems the homebuyer may have.
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The building, renovation, or repair of a home can involve great expense and stress, even when the project is going smoothly. But when issues arise with contractors over construction defects, the cost and stress of the project can spiral out of control. The resulting mess can ultimately lead to a lawsuit that does not always solve the homeowner’s issues completely. The Georgia Right to Repair Act of 2004 was created to protect homeowners and help them handle these types of construction disputes in a more cost effective and efficient manner. The Act attempts to get homeowners and contractors to work together to solve these disputes without Georgia construction defect litigation or arbitration in a Georgia forum.

The Georgia Right to Repair Act requires that the homeowner perform a series of tasks before seeking relief from the Georgia court system or through the Georgia construction arbitration process. While it is open to question that the Right to Repair Act Letter can be waived by the parties to a construction defect dispute, the general process is that homeowners are first required to inform the contractors in writing of the construction defects. After that, the contractors are allowed a chance to correct the defects. They may opt to fix the problem completely or partially, offer a monetary settlement in place of a fix, or a combine the two methods. Over a 3-month period, several communications are required that must fall within a specific timeline before a lawsuit or an arbitration complaint can be filed by the homeowner. If the contractor fails to respond to the initial notice, or if the settlement offered is inadequate or never executed, the homeowner may file a Georgia construction defect lawsuit or proceed with the Georgia arbitration process for resolution of the construction defect.

Most homeowners will not be able to perform these tasks adequately without the help of an Georgia construction law firm. Failure to comply with the complete series of requirements outlined in the Act will affect the homeowner’s ability to pursue a legal claim. Moreover, the failure to send a Right to Repair Act Letter can be used as an effective defense against defective construction claims. In effect, the steps required by the Right to Repair Act are best handled by an experienced Georgia Construction Defect Attorney who can protect the homeowner’s rights and ability to file a claim.
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The Atlanta, Georgia, home defect and construction defect lawyers, at our firm strongly advocate you immediately seek legal representation upon finding any hidden defect(s) in your home. A latent (hidden) construction defect is one that could not have been discovered upon a reasonable inspection. Although these defects are not usually readily apparent, once discovered they usually will impact your home’s fair market value. Some examples include structural damage, defective building materials, soil damage, roof damage and termite infestation. Once you have knowledge of the defect, you should act and seek a legal remedy to your problem. Not acting or ignoring the problem could affect the legal rights and remedies available to you.

Oftentimes, Georgia homeowners are devastated when they discover serious home defects months or even years after they have moved into their home. In my practice as a Atlanta, Georgia, new construction defect attorney, I have had many clients come to me who think they are out of luck when they discover a latent defect in their new home.

Thus, the questions arises — What should homeowners do if they discover latent defects but the homebuilder or seller can not be located or will not correct the problem upon request. The first step is to contact an experienced Atlanta construction lawyer to evaluate your options. I have helped numerous homeowners locate the parties responsible for their home’s defects and obtain just compensation in order to repair the defects and/or compensate them for their home’s diminished value. Determining the identity of the party responsible for losses as the result of latent defects can be challenging.

First, under Georgia law, sellers have a duty to disclose all latent defects that are known and could not be discovered by a diligent inspection of the property. Often latent defects – such as improper installation of roof shingles – are not something that an independent inspector should be expected to locate during an inspection. As a result, if sellers know of the defect, they have the burden of disclosure. If sellers fail to disclose a defect, they may be held responsible for the homeowner’s loss. Types of claims may include fraudulent concealment, fraudulent inducement, misrepresentation, and breach of contract.

Where the construction defect occurs in a newly built home, potential defendants include general contractors, developers, and builders. Sometimes architects and designers may be responsible as well. Additional causes of actions may exist against builders of new homes including negligent construction and breach of express and implied warranties. Under
Georgia’s Right to Repair Act, homeowners must serve notice on contractors at least 90 days before filing a lawsuit. The Right to Repair Act provides allows contractors an opportunity to fix the defect, either fully or partially, settle by monetary payment, or a combination of the two.

However, you may still file a lawsuit if you are not satisfied with a settlement offer, the contractor fails to respond to the notice, or the contractor fails to follow through. An experienced Georgia real estate and construction defect lawyer will ensure you follow the proper steps to preserve your right to file a claim.

Once you contact a dedicated Georgia construction defect attorney, you may be able to recover the costs of repairs and the loss in value to your home as the result of the defect. You may also be able to recover the cost of temporary housing needed while the defect is repaired, the value of the loss of use, court costs, and in some instances, attorney’s fees.
Please contact the The Libby Law Firm immediately if you have discovered a latent or other defect in your home. We will find the responsible party and represent you in your endeavor recover the compensation you deserve.
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As Atlanta construction litigation lawyers and Georgia home defect attorneys we see many clients who believe they have no recourse for construction defects discovered a year or more after project completion.

Many builders claim – and homeowners believe – that Georgia’s mandatory one-year warranty period excuses them from responsibility for defects that are discovered or occur after the one-year period has lapsed. Fortunately, this is not the case.

In most situations, the warranty does not preclude a homeowner from filing a claim against a builder or contractor based on construction defects. In fact, one of the most common ways to be compensated for a construction defect is to file a “breach of contract” action. A breach of contract may occur when a builder fails to construct a home in a “workman-like fashion”. Types of defects include, but are not limited to, the use of substandard building materials, non-compliance with industry standards and incomplete or poorly completed work.

As an Atlanta construction litigation and arbitration attorney, the initial question I have in any new case is, who is potentially liable for the claims in this matter? The business and construction litigation attorneys at my Firm often discuss Georgia construction claims, piercing the corporate veil, who is liable and how do we collect from them in order to make our clients “whole”. We want you to know the following:

If you are the owner who just bought a new property and want to bring claims for defective construction against the builder in the Metro Atlanta area, you are going to want to know who may be liable for your damages, and equally as important, from whom will you be able to recover. Conversely, if you are an Atlanta area contractor, subcontractor, or other construction professional who has been sued, you will want to analyze your exposure: who is at risk and for how much?

In my experience as a Georgia construction litigation and arbitration attorney, people, including attorneys who do not commonly handle construction cases, answer these questions by looking to the construction company. Many people assume that if the company is incorporated, the individuals who own and work for the company are protected from any liability.

Under Georgia law, however, there are numerous ways that an officer or employee of a corporation may be personally liable for claims raised in a construction suit. These can be powerful weapons in construction litigation. It is critical that any person involved in these suits, whether as plaintiffs or defendants, be aware of these potential claims and, more importantly, hire an attorney who knows and understands these issues. Our Atlanta business litigation attorneys will analyze what is known as “piercing the corporate veil”. This legal tactic allows Atlanta business, construction and arbitration attorneys to recover monies from builders and contractors who have not run their company properly.
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As an Atlanta, Georgia, arbitration, home defect, and construction lawyer, I am noticing more and more frivolous claims from Georgia home purchasers and buyers that architects, contractors, builders, sub-contractors, and other persons involved in the construction of a new home, are failing to meet the obligations of the construction contract. These same Georgia home purchasers and buyers are refusing or failing to allow “draws”, or otherwise pay construction professionals, per the construction contract. In fact, they are finding any reason to say that the Georgia construction professionals have not met their obligations per the Georgia construction contract. In my Atlanta, Georgia, construction arbitration and real estate dispute law firm, I am finding that many of these claims, by the purchasers and buyers of these homes, are arising from the fact that these new home purchasers and buyers have fallen on hard financial times.

To be brief, they are looking for a way out of paying you under the obligations of your Georgia new construction contract. Under their theory, a penny owed and not paid, is a penny earned. This is a terrible and pitiful way to try to get of paying under the new construction or new home purchase contract or bargain for a reduction in price. This is especially true given the tough times that construction professionals are enduring in Georgia. These hard-working construction professionals must be paid every penny they have contracted for and earned. This is especially true given the harsh financial and real estate environment they must endure.

In my Georgia construction arbitration and real estate dispute law firm, I handle many matters where purchasers and buyers of new homes are refusing to pay for the design and construction of their home and complaining about upgrades, construction timing issues, “punchlist” items, quality of work, and sub-contractors issues. The list of items and excuses I have heard is endless, somewhat pathetic and every now and then, humorous.

In successfully representing countless Georgia architects, contractors, builders, sub-contractors and other construction professionals, it is important to note that arbitration clauses in new construction contracts are binding and the sole remedy for causes of action and claims, which occur on or after April 28, 2006. Any prior construction or building dispute claims shall continue to be governed by prior law.

As such, every construction professional should know that new home purchasers and buyers are looking for any and every way to avoid paying the full and just price for their new home. The fact that they may have fallen on difficult financial times is their problem, not yours.

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As an Atlanta, Georgia home defect lawyer and homeowner, I know well the importance of having that perfect house built for you. For the most part, a house is one of, if not the biggest investments, most persons will make in their lifetime. This underscores importance of being extremely diligent and using your best efforts to receive the quality house that you likely have partially paid for and will likely be paying for many years into the future. Oftentimes, you will find that one of the best decisions you can make to ensure your investment is protected, is to retain an experienced real estate construction law firm to represent you and protect your investment.

In my practice as an Atlanta, Georgia house defect lawyer, I find more and more cases where builders/contractors and their sub-contractors are cutting corners in the building of your house to make ends meet. When this is done, you are the one who is left with the defective house, many frustrating home defect problems and the inability to sell your house. These home defects usually result in you taking a large loss in market value of your home. This means that you are essentially stuck with a defective house unless you sell it for much less, than you paid.

The fact of the matter is, most builders will cut corners and build you a sub-standard quality building if they feel they can get away with doing this. This is more so the case with sub-contractors who do the majority of the work and should have to answer to the builder/contractor. In reality, however, the sub-contractors are usually left to themselves with the builder or contractor checking on them very seldom. It is important for you to know that the builder/contractor is responsible for the acts of sub-contractors and any negligent, wrong or defective building done by them. Many of sub-contractors will cut corners and hide this from the builder/contractor. Georgia law is clear, however, that the builder/contractor is responsible for any material defects concerning the building and construction of your house.

If you suspect your builder, contractor, or one of their sub-contractors are cutting corners in the construction of your house, or you want to ensure that your large investment in your home is protected, The Libby Law Firm represents all parties to construction, building, and real estate contracts, construction arbitration, mediation, disputes and litigation. This includes residential homebuyers, purchasers and sellers; residential homebuilders, builders, contractors and sub-contractors; and, commercial lessors and lessees. Our Firm specializes in aggressively resolving real estate, home defect and building disputes and represent clients throughout the metro Atlanta and North Georgia areas. The truth is, most building disputes arise when the damage is already done and one party to the contract needs to seek legal relief. However, we are available review, negotiate or draft any construction contract or home purchase and sale agreement so that you are protected.
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As an Atlanta, Georgia home dispute lawyer, I am extremely aware of the importance of having that perfect house built for you. Moreover, recently, I find that even some of the best builders, contractors and subcontractors are cutting corners in the building of your home. This results in eventual material damages that may not be evident in the beginning or initials phases of the construction of your home or while you are living in your home after it is allegedly “finished”; however, they will show themselves over time and create a financial and lifestyle nightmare for you, the homebuyer.

Below is a list of the most common claims and cases our Firm currently has against builders, contractors and sub-contractors:

• Use of Substandard Building Materials
• Negligence in Construction
• Breach of Contract
• Home Building Fraud
• Fraudulent Home Disclosure
• Failure to Disclose Material Home Defects
• Misrepresentation in Home Selling, Building and Construction
• Hiding Defects in Home Purchase and Sale Agreements and Seller’s Disclosure Statements
• Non-Compliance with Industry Standards for Home Construction
• Failure to Maintain or Adhere to Industry Standards in Home Construction
• Incomplete or Poorly Completed Work in Building and Construction of Residence

If you feel that your builder, contractor or sub-contractor is cutting corners in the construction of your home, or you want to protect yourself from this possibility. The Libby Law Firm represents homebuyers, purchasers and investors in construction arbitration, real estate disputes and property litigation. Our Firm also reviews, negotiates, and drafts real estate construction, home building and business contracts.
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