A home is often a family’s largest single investment. Homeowners often want to upgrade or remodel some aspect of their home. This could be in the form of a bathroom remodel, kitchen remodel, or small addition. But when damages to your home occur as the result of construction defects in Indiana, your personal wealth is at risk.
Don’t Let Construction Defects in Indiana Wreck Your Investment
Whether you are a homeowner or contractor, understanding the legal landscape related to home improvement and defective construction is important. This blog will provide a brief overview of some of the laws that apply to home improvement projects.
Indiana Construction Warranties
Statutory home improvement warranties are exactly what they sound like to a lay person. According to Indiana Code § 32-27-1-12, the general warranty includes the following protections against construction defects in Indiana:
- The home improvement must be free from defects in workmanship or materials for two years;
- The home improvement must be free from defects caused by the installation of the following for two years:
- New plumbing systems;
- New electrical systems;
- New heating, cooling, and ventilating systems; or
- Extended parts of existing systems;
- The home improvement must be free from defects caused by faulty workmanship or defective materials in the roof systems for four years; and
- The home improvement and all load-bearing parts of the home that were affected must be free from major structural defects for ten years.
If these terms are not met, the homeowner might be entitled to compensation and should consult with a construction law attorney to determine if it is appropriate to pursue a construction defect claim.
Home Improvement Warranties Notice Requirements
Pursuant to Indiana Code § 32-27-3-2(a), written notice of a construction defect claim must be served on a contractor at least 60 days before an action can be filed. After the contractor receives notice of a warranty claim for defective construction, the contractor must respond in writing within 21 days. The response must do one of the following:
- Propose to inspect the property within a stipulated timeframe with the intent to evaluate the cause of the construction defect claim and resolve the issue.
- Offer financial compensation to settle the claim without a review of alleged damages.
- Express that the contractor disputes the claim and will not revisit or address the alleged defective construction or offer a compromise of financial settlement.
If the contractor does not respond to the homeowner within 21 days, the homeowner may file suit. Alternatively, if the contractor made an offer to compromise, the homeowner must serve a written notice of the rejection of the offer before litigation can commence.
Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
The home improvement warranty statute in Indiana allows either the contractor or homeowner to recover attorneys’ fees and costs associated with a construction defect claim. A contractor can attempt to recover attorneys’ fees and costs if the homeowner unreasonably rejects a reasonable offer of settlement or does not permit the contractor a reasonable opportunity to inspect or to repair the defect.
Similarly, under Indiana Code § 32-27-3-10, a homeowner can recover attorneys’ fees and costs if the contractor unreasonably disputes the homeowner’s claim, fails to remedy or compromise the claim, fails to repair the defective construction within a reasonable time, or fails to respond to a notice.
Indiana Home Improvement Contract Act
The purpose of the Indiana Home Improvement Contract Act (“HICA”) is to protect homeowners from deceptive and unscrupulous acts by setting forth a minimum set of requirements for all Indiana home improvement contracts. HICA applies to all home improvement contracts that exceed $150.
Indiana Home Improvement Contract Act Requirements
All Indiana home improvement contracts that exceed $150 must include a laundry list of provisions. Some of the simpler requirements of the Indiana Home Improvement Contract Act include the following:
- Name of consumer and address of the real property that is being improved;
- Name and email address of contractor;
- Name, telephone number, and email address of an employee with the contractor to whom consumer problems should be directed;
- Date the contract was presented to the homeowner and any time requirements for acceptance of the contract;
- Specific description of the planned real property improvements;
- Dates for beginning the home improvement project and estimated completion;
- Notice of any eventualities that could significantly impact the estimated date of project completion; and
- The real property improvement contract price.
This is not a complete list. If you are a homeowner and have had an issue with a contractor related to Indiana home improvement contracts, you should consult a construction law attorney to verify whether the contract meets the requirements of the Home Improvement Contract Act.
Indiana Home Improvement Fraud Act
Generally, to establish a fraud claim, one must prove “(1) a material misrepresentation of past or existing fact which (2) was untrue, (3) was made with knowledge or in reckless ignorance of its falsity, (4) was made with the intent to deceive, (5) was rightfully relied upon by the complaining party, and (6) which proximately caused the injury or damage complained of.” The Home Improvement Fraud Act (“HIFA”) removes the reliance element necessary in a common law fraud claim.
Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act
The Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act (“DCSA”) prevents individuals and companies who sell goods or services to consumers from making false or misleading statements about those goods or services. The Act was created to protect consumers and offers a legal remedy for deceptive or malicious sales practices. The statute allows litigants to recover actual damages as well as attorneys’ fees.
Home Improvement and Construction Defects in Indiana
If you are the victim of an unscrupulous contractor or have received defective construction or home improvement work, you may need the assistance of an attorney with experience in these areas to help you file and process your construction defect claim.
Camden & Meridew attorney Corey Meridew is an experienced construction law attorney who currently practices civil law throughout Indiana. He helps victims of construction defects in Indiana pursue appropriate compensation for losses. To contact Corey, call 317-770-0000, email the firm at email@example.com, or complete the firm’s online contact form.
This website supplies general information about the law but it is provided for informational purposes only. This content does not create an attorney-client relationship and more importantly is not meant to constitute legal advice. You should not act on any of the information contained herein without first consulting an attorney.