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    Florida Builders Right To Repair Current Law Summary:

    Current Law Summary: In Title XXXIII Chapter 558, the Florida Legislature establishes a requirement that homeowners who allege construction defects must first notify the construction professional responsible for the defect and allow them an opportunity to repair the defect before the homeowner canbring suit against the construction professional. The statute, which allows homeowners and associations to file claims against certain types of contractors and others, defines the type of defects that fall under the authority of the legislation and the types of housing covered in thelegislation. Florida sets strict procedures that homeowners must follow in notifying construction professionals of alleged defects. The law also establishes strict timeframes for builders to respond to homeowner claims. Once a builder has inspected the unit, the law allows the builder to offer to repair or settle by paying the owner a sum to cover the cost of repairing the defect. The homeowner has the option of accepting the offer or rejecting the offer and filing suit. Under the statute the courts must abate any homeowner legal action until the homeowner has undertaken the claims process. The law also requires contractors, subcontractors and other covered under the law to notify homeowners of the right to cure process.


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    Construction Expert Witness Contractors Building Industry
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    Highlands County Builders Association
    Local # 1022
    PO Box 7546
    Sebring, FL 33872
    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

    Home Builders Association of Manatee - Sarasota County
    Local # 1041
    8131 Lakewood Main St Ste 207
    Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202

    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

    Treasure Coast Builders Association
    Local # 1030
    6560 South Federal Highway
    Port Saint Lucie, FL 34952

    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

    Tampa Bay Builders Association
    Local # 1036
    11242 Winthrop Main St
    Riverview, FL 33578

    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

    Polk County Builders Association
    Local # 1028
    2232 Heritage Dr
    Lakeland, FL 33801

    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

    Charlotte-DeSoto Building Industry Association
    Local # 1002
    17984 Toledo Blade Blvd
    Port Charlotte, FL 33948

    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10

    Home Builders & CA of Brevard
    Local # 1012
    1500 W Eau Gallie Blvd Ste A
    Melbourne, FL 32935

    Bowling Green Florida Construction Expert Witness 10/ 10


    Construction Expert Witness News and Information
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    BOWLING GREEN FLORIDA CONSTRUCTION EXPERT WITNESS
    DIRECTORY AND CAPABILITIES

    The Bowling Green, Florida Construction Expert Witness Group at BHA, leverages from the experience gained through more than 7,000 construction related expert witness designations encompassing a wide spectrum of construction related disputes. Leveraging from this considerable body of experience, BHA provides construction related trial support and expert services to Bowling Green's most recognized construction litigation practitioners, commercial general liability carriers, owners, construction practice groups, as well as a variety of state and local government agencies.

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    Hurricane Ian: Discussing Wind-Water Disputes

    October 10, 2022 —
    “Most of the Florida homes in the path of Hurricane Ian lack flood insurance, posing a major challenge to rebuilding efforts, new data show. In the counties whose residents were told to evacuate, just 18.5 percent of homes have coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program, according to Milliman, an actuarial firm that works with the program.” That’s how a September 29th article on The New York Times website begins. When it comes to insurance coverage for hurricanes, the oft-stated maxim is that homeowner’s policies cover damage caused by wind but not flood waters. Such a low take-up rate for flood insurance policies would seemingly create an incentive for those affected by Hurricane Ian to argue, when feasible, that their property damage, despite appearing to have been caused by flood, was also caused by wind. [And, of course, businesses looking to make business interruption claims, under commercial property policies, will be in the same boat.] Further, even when someone has a homeowner’s policy and a flood policy, there may still be a reason to argue that the loss was caused by wind, as homeowner’s policies often have greater limits than flood policies. [As an important aside, when hurricane damages are covered, homeowner’s policies can have a significant deductible, perhaps up to 10% of a home’s insured value.] Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Randy J. Maniloff, White and Williams LLP
    Mr. Maniloff may be contacted at maniloffr@whiteandwilliams.com

    Fifth Circuit Requires Causal Distinction for Ensuing Loss Exception to Faulty Work Exclusion

    August 29, 2022 —
    In Balfour Beatty v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals provided valuable insight on coverage available through ensuing loss exceptions to faulty work and design exclusions in builder’s risk insurance policies. In Balfour Beatty, the Court held that, in order to establish coverage through an ensuing loss exception, the ensuing loss must be causally distinct from the original excluded loss.1 Balfour Beatty, serving as general contractor for construction of a commercial office building in Houston, Texas, subcontracted with Milestone for steelwork on the project. As part of this work, Milestone welded a 2-inch metal plate to external tubing on the eighteenth floor of the building. While welding the plate in place, welding slag fell down the side of the building, damaging exterior glass windows on the floors below. Balfour Beatty and Milestone, along with the developer, sought coverage for the damage to the windows under their builder’s risk policy, issued by Liberty Mutual. Liberty Mutual denied coverage, claiming that the damage was excluded by the policy’s “Defects, Errors, and Omissions” exclusion. The insureds sued, arguing that the ensuing loss exception to this exclusion would carve back coverage because the damage to the windows constituted an “ensuing loss.” Reprinted courtesy of Avery J. Cantor, Saxe Doernberger & Vita and William S. Bennett, Saxe Doernberger & Vita Mr. Cantor may be contacted at ACantor@sdvlaw.com Mr. Bennett may be contacted at WBennett@sdvlaw.com Read the full story...

    Were Condos a Bad Idea?

    June 13, 2022 —
    Introduction Condominiums are a nice idea, but their execution has been less than perfect. Long before the fatal Berkeley, California balcony failure in 2015 or the 2021 Champlain Towers South collapse that killed 98 people in Surfside, Florida, we suspected that all was not right with the basic condo concept. Years ago, there were already signs this "cooperative" housing model was anything but. Whether due to owner apathy, internal disputes, or failure to fund future repairs, sustaining these projects for the long-term has been difficult, leaving their future in doubt. Can this be fixed, or is the concept inherently flawed? Every enterprise has an organizational "model" to run the business. For-profit corporations obtain revenue from the sale of products or services. The revenue of non-profit condominium corporations are the assessments paid by the owners of the individual units. While these assessments are “mandatory” in the sense they must be paid, they are also “voluntary” since the amount is left to the board of directors to determine. Condos are cheaper to buy, but the sales price may not reflect the real cost of ownership. They are "cooperative" because costs and space are shared, but internal disputes and funding shortfalls operate to shorten the life of these buildings in ways few owners understand. Internal Disputes Why is condominium life frequently not “cooperative?” Disputes. Disputes between condominium owners and their associations; among board members; and between individual owners and their neighbors. There are arguments over the right to put a flag on the balcony. There are arguments over swimming pool hours. The right to paint their front door some color other than everyone else's. The right to be free of noise, smoke, or view-blocking plants. And sometimes, the claimed right not to pay assessments needed to maintain the project—all notwithstanding the governing documents to the contrary. The right to use one's property as the owner sees fit is a concept imported from the single-family home experience but not replicated in condominiums where common ownership requires rules to avoid chaos. But a condominium association's most important concern should not be the color of someone's front door or when they can swim but sustaining the building and keeping owners safe. Maybe we care someone has painted their front door bright green, but should that concern have priority over finding rot that may cause a balcony to collapse with someone on it? Resolving conflicts and enforcing the governing documents have a reasonable success rate. Still, the effort required to do that often distracts the board from more critical issues—damage that can sink the ship. Directors can waste a lot of time re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic when, if they look closely, the iceberg is coming. Maintenance Lacks Priority Why can't we enforce the rules and do what’s necessary to sustain the building and keep occupants safe? Unfortunately, juggling both behavioral and sustainability issues has proven difficult for many volunteer boards of directors. Rule disputes are always in their face, crowding their agenda, while the damage that could lead to structural failure often remains unknown. Also, enforcing—or resisting—rules can involve a clash of egos that keep those matters front and center. Or, and I suspect this is a primary culprit, the cost of adequate inspections, maintenance, and repair is so high that boards cannot overcome owner resistance to that expense. While boards and management must sustain the project and protect people, raising the funds to do that is another matter. Directors must leap hurdles to increase regular assessments. Imposing large, unexpected, special assessments for major repairs can be political suicide. Unfortunately, few owners realize how deadly serious proper maintenance is until there is a Berkeley or a Surfside, and everyone is stunned by the loss of life and property. While those are extreme cases of faulty construction, inadequate maintenance, natural causes, or all the above, they will not be the last. We know that because experts have seen precursors to those same conditions in other projects. Our concern for sustainability arises from examining newer projects during construction defect litigation when forensic experts open walls to inspect waterproofing and structural components. It also comes from helping our clients with the re-construction of older buildings and dealing with many years or decades of neglect for which little or no reserves have been allocated. The economic impact of repairing long-term damage is huge. Rot lying hidden within walls slowly damages the structural framing. Moisture seeping into balcony supports weakens them sometimes to the point of collapse. The cost to repair this damage is frequently out of reach of most condominium associations. In newer projects, when experts find problems early, claims are possible. The Berkeley balcony failure occurred in an eight-year-old building[1], and there was recourse available from the builder. But with older projects, it is often difficult to hold anyone responsible other than the owners themselves. Is The Condo Model Flawed? Suppose this is true—and our experience representing condominium projects for over forty years tells us it is—then we are not dealing only with the inexperience of some volunteer directors but rather with a flawed organization model. Board members want to succeed but are constrained by an income stream that depends almost entirely on the will of the individual owners—essentially voluntary funding. Under most state laws, funding for condominium operations and maintenance is not mandatory[2], and relies instead on the willingness of the directors to assess owners for whatever is needed, and on the willingness of owners to accept the board’s decisions. When a board of directors can set assessments at whatever level is politically comfortable, without adequate consideration, or even knowledge, of long-term maintenance needs, systemic underfunding can result[3]. What the members want are the lowest assessments possible, and directors often accede to those demands. When these factors conspire to underfund maintenance, they will drastically shorten the service life of a building. They also make it potentially unsafe. Commercial buildings incentivize their owners for good maintenance with increased rents and market value. That incentive is not relevant to a condominium owner because the accumulating deficit is rarely understood at the time of sale and not reflected in the unit’s sales price. With a single-family home, deferred maintenance is more easily identified and is reflected in the purchase price. But condo home inspections are usually confined to the interior of a unit, and do not assess the overall condition of the entire building or project or review any deficit in the funding needed to attend to deficiencies. Thus, market value is not affected by reality. In most states that require that reserves be maintained for future maintenance and repairs, the statutes require nothing other than cursory surface inspections. Damage beneath the skin of a building is not investigated, and no reserves are recommended for what is not known. California recently enacted legislation that will require condominium associations inspect specific elevated structures for safety, including intrusive testing where indicated. But no other state requires this level of inspection, and few even require a reserve study to determine how much money to save for the obvious problems, never mind those no one knows about[4]. This situation leads to unfair consequences for those owners who find themselves unlucky enough to own a unit when the damage and deficits are finally realized. Damage discovered, say, in year 35 didn’t just happen in year 35. That deterioration likely began earlier in the building's life and lay hidden for decades. It is costly to repair when it finally becomes obvious or dangerous. No prior owner, those who owned and sold their units years ago, will pay any part of the cost of the eventual rehabilitation of that building due to past lack of adequate inspections and years of artificially low assessments. Instead, the present owners will be handed the entire tab for the shortfall from several decades of deferred maintenance or hidden damage—the last people standing when the music stops. Can this trend be reversed? As condominium buildings age and deterioration continues, the funding deficit increases dramatically. But to reverse that trend and reduce the deficit, someone must know it exists and be willing to address it. That requires more robust inspections early in the building's life and potentially higher assessments to stay even with any decay. Conclusion It would not be wrong to blame this on the failure of the basic condominium model. Volunteers rarely have sufficient training or expertise to oversee complex infrastructure maintenance, especially without mandatory funding to pay for it. The model also does not insist that board members have a talent for resolving conflicts. While condominium boards can leverage fines or legal action to enforce the rules, that lacks finesse and can create greater antagonism—a distraction from the more critical job of raising funds to inspect and maintain the building. Unit owner-managed, voluntarily funded, multi-million-dollar condominium projects were probably a bad idea from the beginning. But sadly, it is way too late to reverse course on the millions of such projects built in the past sixty years. Many are already reaching the end of their service lives, with no plan to deal with that. Robust inspection standards on new and existing projects and enforceable minimum funding for maintenance and repairs should be considered by state legislatures. But whatever the approach, the present system is not staying even with the deterioration of many buildings, and that is just not safe anymore.
    1. The collapse of the balcony in Berkeley occurred on an apartment building. But the construction of that building is similar or identical to the construction of most multi-story wood-frame condominiums.
    2. Boards of directors are empowered by statute or contract to assess members for operation and maintenance costs. However, there are few statutes that set minimum funding or otherwise require boards to exercise that authority.
    3. Even in states that require reserve studies, the physical inspections are inadequate to uncover some of the costliest damage. California’s reserve study statute—Civil Code Section 5550—only requires inspection of those components that are visible and accessible, leaving damage within walls and other structural components undiscovered and funding for the eventual repairs, unaddressed.
    4. In May 2022, in response to the Champlain Towers South collapse, Florida enacted mandatory structural inspections for buildings 30 years and older, repeating every 10 years thereafter. The law also includes mandatory reserve funding for structural components.
    Reprinted courtesy of Tyler P. Berding, Berding & Weil LLP
    Mr. Berding may be contacted at tberding@berdingweil.com

    HOA Foreclosure Excess Sale Proceeds Go to Owner

    August 15, 2022 —
    Over the last few years, the Arizona Court of Appeals wrestled with the question of who should receive the excess proceeds from a foreclosure sale. We’ve blogged about some these past unreported decisions here and here. Those decisions, somewhat inexplicably, required excess sale proceeds to be paid to senior creditors. As we noted at the time, these unreported (and non-precedential) decisions did not seem to make much sense in the context of debtor/creditor rights. Thankfully, a reported opinion finally sets the record straight. Excess sale proceeds should be paid downstream. In Tortosa Homeowners Assoc. v. Garcia, et al., No. 2 CA-CV 2021-0114 (Ct. App. Aug. 1, 2022), the Court of Appeals held that after the foreclosing lienholder is paid in full, then the excess sale proceeds should be paid to claimants in the order of their priority after the foreclosing lienholder. In other words, if a junior lienholder forecloses, then any creditors behind (i.e., junior to) the foreclosing creditor should be paid, and if all such creditors are paid, then the rest should be given to the owner. Creditors senior to the foreclosing creditor should not be paid anything from the foreclosure sale. This makes sense from a policy perspective, because the senior creditor retains its lien against the property and the bidder presumably took the presence of the senior lien into account when it made its bid for the foreclosed property. Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Ben Reeves, Snell & Wilmer
    Mr. Reeves may be contacted at breeves@swlaw.com

    Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Silent-Cyber Basket

    August 07, 2022 —
    The Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently gave another reminder why cyber insurance should be part of any comprehensive insurance portfolio. In Construction Financial Administration Services, LLC v. Federal Insurance Company, No. 19-0020 (E.D. Pa. June 9, 2022), the court rejected a policyholder’s attempt to find coverage under its professional liability insurance for a social engineering incident that defrauded over $1 million. Construction Financial Administrative Services, which goes by CFAS, disburses funds to contractors. One of its clients, SWF Constructors, was hacked, and a bad actor posing as the client asked CFAS to distribute $600,000 to a sham third party. John Follmer, an executive at CFAS and the only person authorized to approve distribution of funds, approved it. The next day, the bad actor, again posing as the client, asked Follmer to transfer an additional $700,000. Follmer approved that distribution too. Reprinted courtesy of William P. Sowers, Jr., Hunton Andrews Kurth and Michael S. Levine, Hunton Andrews Kurth Mr. Levine may be contacted at mlevine@HuntonAK.com Read the full story...

    Supreme Court’s New York Harbor Case Isn’t a ‘Sopranos’ Episode

    August 03, 2022 —
    The long-simmering harbor dispute between New York and New Jersey has observers reaching for illustrations from “The Sopranos” and “On the Waterfront.” But now that the US Supreme Court has agreed to adjudicate the spat, I wonder whether a more useful resource might be “The Paper Chase.” The disagreement stems from New Jersey’s determination to exit the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, an entity established by the two states back in 1953 in response to news reports of widespread corruption and violence among those who loaded and unloaded ships. New Jersey argues that as a sovereign state, it can’t be forced to remain in the pact forever. New York replies that the deal has the force of law and neither state can quit without the permission of the other. (And Congress!) The Supreme Court is now involved because that’s the venue the Constitution prescribes when one state sues another. Four days before New Jersey’s announced departure date of March 28, the justices issued an injunction preventing the move. This week they agreed to adjudicate the dispute and set an accelerated schedule for briefs and oral argument. Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg

    Contractors Liable For Their Subcontractor’s Failure To Pay Its Employees’ Wages And Benefits

    November 01, 2022 —
    Recently, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed two House Bills that amend the Illinois Wage Payment & Collections Act, 820 ILCS 115 et. seq. (“Wage Act”), to provide greater protection for individuals working in the construction trades against wage theft in a defined class of projects. Pursuant to this new law, every general contractor, construction manager, or “primary contractor,” working on the projects included in the Bill’s purview will be liable for wages that have not been paid by a subcontractor or lower-tier subcontractor on any contract entered into after July 1, 2022, together with unpaid fringe benefits plus attorneys’ fees and costs that are incurred by the employee in bringing an action under the Wage Act. This new wage theft law follows several other states that have considered and passed similar legislation. These amendments to the Wage Act apply to a primary contractor engaged in “erection, construction, alteration, or repair of a building structure, or other private work.” However, there are important limitations to the amendment’s applicability. The amendment does not apply to projects under contract with state or local government, or to general contractors that are parties to a collective bargaining agreement on a project where the work is being performed. Additionally, the amendment does not apply to primary contractors who are doing work with a value of less than $20,000, or work that involves only the altering or repairing of an existing single-family dwelling or single residential unit in a multi-unit building. Reprinted courtesy of Edward O. Pacer, Peckar & Abramson, P.C. (ConsensusDocs) and David J. Scriven-Young, Peckar & Abramson, P.C. (ConsensusDocs) Mr. Pacer may be contacted at epacer@pecklaw.com Mr. Scriven-Young may be contacted at dscriven-young@pecklaw.com Read the full story...

    Henderson Engineers Tests AI for Building Systems Design with Torch.AI

    September 26, 2022 —
    Torch.AI is testing a new artificial intelligence application with Henderson Engineers, a national building systems design firm, to unlock the creative and problem solving potential of the firm’s more than 1,000 employees. Henderson Engineers is a building systems design and engineering firm that works on projects across the business, community, health, retail, and venue sectors. Their projects include many high-profile projects, such as SoFi Stadium, host site for the 2022 Super Bowl. They know how the industry relies on highly complex information contained in equally complex unstructured data: drawings, images, PDFs, handwriting, raw text. Earlier this year, Henderson began testing new artificial intelligence from Torch.AI that could learn to read complex construction and engineering documents and diagrams. “When Kevin Lewis, Henderson’s CEO, and I got together to first discuss the partnership, I could tell they were already thinking way ahead of everyone else,” says Brian Weaver, Chairman and CEO of Torch.AI. “As an engineering firm they are meticulous, thoughtful, strategic. We quickly saw the potential impact these new AI systems could have for their amazingly talented teams and are excited to continue growing our relationship.” Read the full story...
    Reprinted courtesy of Aarni Heiskanen, AEC Business
    Mr. Heiskanen may be contacted at aec-business@aepartners.fi