Florida’s general assembly made changes to Florida’s construction defect notice statute, Fl. St. §§ 558.001 to 558.005, et. seq., that take effect on October 1, 2015.
Florida’s construction defect notice statute is an attempt to put in place an effective alternative dispute resolution mechanism for certain construction defect matters that involves, among other things, the claimant filing a notice of claim with the “contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or design professional that the claimant asserts is responsible for the defect.” Fl. St. § 558.001. The revised statute includes an intent to provide contractors, and insurers, among others, with an opportunity to resolve certain construction defect claims through confidential settlement negotiations, without resort to further legal process. Id. The revised statute does not, however, include a requirement that claimants provide notice of a claim directly to insurers.
In addition to including a reference to insurers in its Legislative Findings section, the revised statute, among other things, clarifies what a claimant should include in a notice of claim. The notice of claim must now describe the nature of the alleged construction defect and, if known, the damage resulting from the defect. Fl. St. § 558.004(1)(b). In addition, based on “at least a visual inspection,” the notice of claim must identify the location of each construction defect sufficiently to enable responding parties to locate the alleged defect without undue burden.” Id. The claimant, however, has no obligation to perform destructive or other testing for purposes of providing notice to contractors or others. Id.
The revised statute also amends that part of the statute that addressed what materials the parties must exchange. The revision deletes the requirement that the parties exchange “any documents detailing the design drawings or specifications” but adds the requirement that the parties exchange “maintenance records and other documents related to the discovery, investigation, causation, and extent of the alleged defect.” Fl. St. § 558.004(b)(15). Although this later requirement could be read to require that a homeowner produce privileged information, the revised statute states that a party may assert any claim of privilege recognized under Florida’s laws.
To a review a complete copy of the revisions to the statute, click here.