In order to expand and improve their property, both residential and commercial property owners commonly organize construction on their property. Construction is certainly an expensive process, and unfortunately, property owners and builders may face conflicts that lead to legal disputes. For example, in the event that the construction is faulty, litigation may arise out of the real property construction.
Property owners will typically turn to civil litigation for a resolution. However, under certain circumstances, alternative dispute resolution may be a more appropriate process. For example, settling the conflict before filing a lawsuit may save substantial time and resources since construction disputes tend to take a long time. Parties may also turn to alternative dispute resolution to help reach a mutually-beneficially outcome. Indeed, in some cases, the underlying contract may require that property owners resolve legal disputes outside of court through various ADR proceedings, such as mediation or arbitration. Applicable laws may also require that parties seek a resolution through administrative proceedings before turning to litigation. Accordingly, to ensure that a lawsuit does not violate the terms of a contract, a property owner must carefully review the specific terms and conditions.
Furthermore, under California law, a homeowner who is looking to file a claim for faulty construction must first provide written notification by mail to the builder that the construction at issue is in violation of specific standards. The written notice must include certain terms and provisions. After such notice and a following inspection of the property, the builder has the option of offering to repair the faulty construction and avoiding litigation. Alternatively, the builder may offer to reimburse the cost of the faulty construction. Again, state law places certain restrictions and requirements on the terms of such offers. Both homeowners and builders must meet these standards to reach a valid agreement on the underlying construction dispute.
Homeowners may pursue civil claims under various causes of action, including negligence, fraud, and breach of contract, depending on the nature of the construction dispute. A negligence claim must establish that the builder had some legal duty to the property owner, which the builder breached to the detriment of the property owner. A claim for fraud focuses on the underlying construction contract, requiring proof that the builder persuaded the property owner to enter the contract under false pretenses. As for a claim for breach of the construction contract, a property owner must establish that the builder either violated the specific terms of the contract, or that the builder failed to meet certain implied guarantees under the contract.
In light of the different standards and requirements that apply to real property construction disputes, property owners can save substantial time and resources by reviewing available legal options. Please contact us in order to speak with an attorney with knowledge and experience in the field of real property law who can discuss the circumstances of your dispute.