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Procrastination is Not Your Friend (especially in the world of construction claims)

Procrastination is one of those habits that many of us suffer from. It’s Sunday night, and I have had all weekend to write about this, but here I am, having put this off until Sunday evening. We often make light of it, that is true, but often times it really does have consequences. After you have moved into your newly constructed or remodeled home, and in the event you find yourself wondering about that seemingly minor roof leak, the minor cracking of sheet rock in your ceiling, or sticking doors, to name a few, these issues may indeed be minor issues that are easily fixed, but they can also be indicative of a more serious problem with your home, requiring further inspection. If the problem, upon further inspection, suggests that you may have a claim (against an insurer, contractor, etc.), those claims do not get better with time. In fact, if you wait too long to do something (hoping that the problem will simply correct itself or stabilize), you could lose the ability to bring a claim altogether.

Over the years, I have had many a phone conversation with a potential client who describes a really bad situation with their home; a failing foundation, hardwood cabinets infested with rare wood destroying insects, a worsening drainage problem, etc. Often, when I get to the question as to when was the problem or potential problem noticed for the very first time, I will get an answer like “Well, a while, but I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal…” or “…it has just gotten much worse.” Often, “a while” means years. Unfortunately, with that scenario, they may simply have waited too long.

Construction issues can be easy to ignore, or at least to not give them the urgency they need, as they can seem minor and inconsequential at first; kind of like that dental check up we all need, or that follow up appointment to update our wills (or that appointment to make a will, for that matter). But, before long, two years have gone by from the date the work was completed, or from the date you might have noticed something that just didn’t look right, and the problem has grown worse. If so, you could very well then be out of time (time barred due to the running of the statute of limitations) to bring certain claims. Even if you are not out of time, your claim may be forever compromised due to the inability to timely identify certain subcontractors, or manufacturers of products that otherwise are responsible for the defect.

Just be aware when something about your home seems or appears amiss. Have it looked at by a professional and get a sound understanding of the problem, if any. Then, you will be in a much better position to take care of the problem. Hopefully, a claim against a third party will not be necessary, but if it is, you will be in a much better position, both factually and legally, to bring it.

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