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Once a homeowner or homeowners association contacts us, we will visually inspect the property along with a forensic architect. With single family homes, we like to inspect as many homes as possible in the project so that we can get a feeling as to whether or not the defects are project wide. Once the inspection is complete, we will meet with homeowners or Boards of Directors to discuss their options.
Unfortunately, options are few and far between. Most developers are long gone by the time defects start appearing and are not particularly interested in coming back to perform the proper repair. Typically, they just want to "caulk and walk" as we say in the industry. Homeowners are left holding the bag and in the case of homeowners associations, dues very often are raised and assessments levied in an effort to cover the cost of repairs.
All of our cases are contingency based which means we take a percentage of the gross recovery as our fee. We also advance the costs including expert costs. There are no upfront costs to our clients. And if we don't recover for our clients, they don't owe us any fee.
Once a client retains us, a complaint is filed in Superior Court and the developer has thirty days to respond. Once they respond, they will file a cross-complaint against all the subcontractors who performed work on the project. Within ninety days or so, there are usually dozens of parties in the case. As a result of the numerous parties, most courts deem the case complex and send it to departments and Judges who handle complex cases. A Case management Order (CMO) is also instituted. A CMO is a document, which for the most part controls discovery.
The CMO allows us certain time frames to test and inspect the homes. We visually inspect all the homes and intrusively test around twenty-percent of the homes. Intrusive meaning that we will open particular areas of a roof or test a window to see if it leaks. Very often we will remove small areas of drywall to investigate a particular issue such as structural components or plumbing issues. The areas opened up are always closed up the same day and professional construction crews protect all areas around a test site. The defendants and their experts are present during the inspections so they can see the defects first hand.
Once we have completed our inspections, our experts, who usually include forensic architects, structural engineers, plumbing, and mechanical experts, and various other experts depending on the issues presented put together reports citing each defect and the recommended repair. The recommended repairs are then forwarded to a cost estimator. Demands are propounded upon the developers, builders and subcontractors once we have a cost of repair associated with each home. The demand not only includes the costs to repair each home, but also includes a demand for any of pocket expenses the homeowners have expended on repairs plus the costs of the expert investigation.
The defendant's will then have an opportunity to inspect the homes, which they rarely do since our investigation is usually very complete. We then enter a mediation phase in which the case usually resolves. We do not settle with defendants until we have the homeowners or the homeowner's association written authority to do so. Around ninety-five percent of construction defect cases settle in a mediation context. On average our cases settle within twelve to eighteen months.
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The information contained on this website may provide general legal information but is not intended to give legal advice or counsel on any specific legal matter. It does not create an attorney-client relationship and should not be relied upon in lieu of legal counsel.