What Recourse do I Have Against a Home Builder in Florida?

What recourse do i have against a home builder?

Florida’s construction defect law attempts to address the question of what recourse do I have against a home builder if they damage property or otherwise fail to meet your expectations. Mistakes and problems in construction are not ordinary because of the hectic dealings between general and subcontractors along with other human errors. Homeowners should know that they are not without remedy and filing a complaint can be an important act toward future consumer protection.

Our guide explains some of the common reasons you may have legal action against a home builder in addition to how you can pursue a claim in Florida.

What Recourse Do I Have Against a Home Builder in Florida?

When you buy a new home in Florida, you likely have expectations that your property will comply with necessary building codes, is livable, and is free from other construction defects. Unfortunately, home builders do make mistakes, and you may have a few different options for recourse. You will generally have a right to recover certain costs and damages that result under principles of breach of contract and Florida Statute. You can think of these rights as the inverse of a construction lien that exist to protect builders in the event of nonpayment.

The precise methods for obtaining recourse will depend on the nature of the claim, but could include several different types of legal steps that we discuss in more detail below:

  • Mediation
  • Arbitration
  • Civil action

Under What Circumstances Am I Entitled to Compensation for Builder Mistakes?

Below are some of the common reasons and events that could lead to a property owner’s need to recover compensation from their home builder because of problems with the construction project. For instance, we address when can you sue a builder for poor workmanship and other breaches of contract issues like a breach of the builder’s warranty.

A Builder’s Bad Workmanship on Your Home

Buyers and homeowners are entitled to reasonable expectations of quality work products on the construction of a home or other real estate development. A general contractor or subcontractor’s poor workmanship on your property can encompass a broad range of issues.

In most cases, these are legal claims related to the substandard performance of a construction contract that is less egregious defects (i.e., they don’t necessarily affect the property’s habitability or impose substantial safety risks). Some examples of a builder’s bad workmanship that might create a claim for compensation include:

  • Scuffs, marks or other missed paint spots throughout the home
  • Using materials that are of a lower quality than what you paid for under the contract
  • Raised or exposed hardware (e.g., nails, screws, etc.)
  • Dents or cracks in the drywall
  • Damaged installations (e.g., cabinetry, vanities, light fixtures, etc.)

You can think of workmanship claims as inconveniences because of poor work products that may have significant costs to repair or improve. They violate reasonable consumer expectations and leave the new homeowner in a worse position as a result. Sometimes, these cases are the result of unlicensed contractor Florida hiring practices.

Home Construction That Violates Building Codes or Other Civil Codes

In addition to Florida state law on home building requirements, counties and cities within the state also have their own building codes. Real property located within these jurisdictions must comply with applicable construction standards in civil codes. Many of these codes require the use of certain materials, metrics, and other specifications that exist for safety and durability reasons.

Builders may fail to meet these requirements because they impose increased costs or time burdens on the overall construction project. If you become aware of building code violations or other related flaws with your property, then you may have recourse against the builder. Some examples of common types of code violations include:

  • Wall thickness
  • Plumbing materials and sizes
  • HVAC systems specifications
  • Bedroom and window sizing
  • Fireplace and chimney ventilation
  • Landscaping standards

Construction Defects with Your New Home

A construction defect under Florida state law is a deficiency in the design, production, repair, or remodel of a home. Such defects generally result from substandard or nonworking materials, code violations, or other failures to construct real property using accepted trade standards at the time.

Construction defects can be found in almost any aspect of a build from the planning stages (e.g., architect or developer plans) to finishing touches (paint, appliance installation, etc.). As a homeowner, you have legal rights to confront builders for their mistakes that lead to problems with your real property. As a general matter, you may think of the following parts of the construction process that can lead to defects with improper labor or materials:

  • Building design and floor planning
  • Plat leveling and foundation pouring
  • House framing and roofing
  • Internal systems (electrical, plumbing, HVAC, insulation, etc.)
  • Flooring, drywall, painting
  • Exterior elements (landscaping, drainage systems, sprinklers, siding, etc.)

A property owner’s available compensation from a builder, contractor, or other at-fault parties from a construction defect will depend on the severity of the problem and associated damages. At the very least, compensation should be available to fix the defect and return the home to a proper living condition.

Injury and Damaged Personal Property from Construction Defects

The nature of a construction defect can mean more than just expensive repair costs to fix your home. Serious defects can cause substantial personal injury in addition to damaged personal property (e.g., due to flooding, electrical or gas fires, slip and fall accidents, etc.). A homeowner may have a related claim under Florida tort laws such as negligence and strict liability.

Following an incident involving a possible construction defect, consider immediately taking a photo and video for evidence of the real property’s condition and the condition of damaged personal property. If a construction defect caused personal injury, then seek immediate medical attention.

Other Breach of Contract or Builder Warranty Issues

Finally, you may have a right to compensation from your general contractor or other parties under the terms of your sales contract and a related liquidated damages clause. A builder has obligations to uphold promises made under a construction contract, and you have corresponding legal rights under related breach of contract law.

For example, most home sales contracts come with express and implied home warranty. A home warranty is a promise from the seller or builder about the current condition of the real property along with a promise to fix any reported issues within a certain period. When the builder won’t fix problems it may require you to absorb repair costs and later recover compensation from a breach of the warranty claim. Unreasonable delay or incompletion of the construction project may also be cause for future legal claims depending on the justification for the delay and resulting damages.

How Do I Take Legal Action Against a Home Builder?

After you realize a home builder violated your legal rights, you may wonder how to sue a contractor for damages. Sometimes, a class action lawsuit against a home builder may be appropriate depending on the number of similarly harmed homeowners. In Florida, the appropriate channel for seeking legal action will depend on the nature of the claim (e.g., construction defect lawsuit, breach of contract examples, strict liability tort claim, etc.). Here are some general steps to consider based on current Florida state law.

1. Schedule a Consultation with a Lawyer

A consultation with an experienced Florida construction attorney can provide legal advice on the options available for taking legal action based on your set of circumstances. Not all legal complaints with home builders will necessarily require a construction defect lawsuit.

Alternative negotiation and settlement options may offer a more cost-effective and faster resolution compared to waiting for a court judgment. Additionally, Florida mandates some homeowners and other parties to participate in alternative dispute resolution for some construction defect actions. Either way, a consultation with a lawyer can provide an opportunity to make an informed decision about how to proceed with a complaint against a home builder.

2. Follow Procedures Under Florida Statute 558

Under Florida Statute 558, real property owners must follow certain steps before filing a construction defect claim in court. Failing to follow these statutory requirements can further delay the resolution of the matter.

Contractor Notice and Opportunity to Repair

Sixty days before filing a construction defect action, the claimant must provide written notice to the contractor or liable party about the defect and any known losses incurred because of it. The contractor then has the opportunity to inspect the property defect within 30 days of receiving the homeowner’s notice.

The Contractor’s Written Response

Following the inspection, the contractor must provide a written response to the claimant within 45 days after service of the claimant’s notice. The contractor has five options for their response depending on their position:

  • An offer to repair the defect at no cost
  • An offer to settle the complaint with compensation
  • An offer to settle through a combination of repairs and compensation
  • A dispute of the claim and refusal to remedy the defect through repair or settlement
  • An agreement to monetary payment through a determination from the insurer

3. A Homeowner’s Other Options for Legal Action

If the homeowner is unable to resolve the dispute with the contractor after following the notice procedures above, then filing a civil action may be the only reasonable solution. Your sales contract may also require other channels for resolving a defect or breach of contract claim. This could include mediation or arbitration proceedings with agreed-upon mediators or judges.

How Long Does a Builder Have to Fix Defects?

As mentioned above, a builder has an opportunity to inspect a property defect within 30 days of receiving written notice of the complaint. The contractor also has 45 days to inform the claimant of their intent to repair the defect or not. However, no specific period exists in which the builder must repair, although a court judgment may state otherwise. Each case will likely have different repair time requirements based on the severity of the defect and how complex the repair is.

Need Help Suing a Builder for Negligence?

Construction defects and other property disputes with contractors can be difficult to navigate without the guidance of an experienced lawyer. The attorneys at Cueto Law Group are proud to help homeowners understand their legal rights when seeking repairs or compensation from a builder who provided subpar materials or services. When necessary we use our skill and knowledge in suing home builders to obtain available legal remedies for our clients.

Contact Cueto Law Group today for a consultation with one of our construction law attorneys.

Our Key Takeaways on Suing a Home Builder for Bad Workmanship

Homeowners place a lot of trust and money in the contractors and property developers to build homes that meet basic standards of quality, safety, and durability amongst other civil codes. When mistakes are made or contractors fail to live up to expectations, property owners should not hesitate to take appropriate legal action such as suing a builder for bad workmanship. Seeking accountability through construction law is necessary for promoting consumer protection and repairing your property to a proper condition.


Below are some quick answers to other common questions you may have seeking recourse against a home builder through construction defect actions.

Can You Sue a Home Builder for Taking Too Long?

Delays are not uncommon in the construction industry because of things like subcontractor schedules, unfavorable weather, or waiting for local government inspection. However, you may be able to sue a home builder for unreasonable delays that cause significant additional costs, unfinished work, or other breaches of contract examples.

Can I Sue for a Bad Paint Job?

The paint on your house is a cosmetic, yet highly noticeable finishing touch on a home. Whether you can sue for a bad paint job will likely depend on its severity, the current industry standards, and what the contractor may have promised in the contract (e.g., specific colors).

Can I Sue if a Construction Company Damaged My Property?

Yes, a construction company’s actions that caused damage to your real property or personal property will likely create a basis for a lawsuit. If the cause of damage was a construction defect, you may have to follow additional steps in an effort to settle before filing a lawsuit in Florida.

Cueto Law Group P.L.