New Jersey Construction Law & Litigation
Construction Lawyers for Community Associations, Owners and Other Parties
Experienced Trial Lawyers Can Make the Difference
Community associations and other owners that have endured leaky roofs, bad elevators, cracking walls, and sinking driveways, along with token fixes by the developer or builder, are often faced with difficult questions:
- What is a construction defect?
- Did I run out of time to file a claim?
- How much will it cost?
- Did the contractor commit fraud?
- What if the builder named a worthless company as the contractor?
Our attorneys have helped associations and owners answer these questions for over 40 years. We will guide you through the difficult process of selecting experts and analyzing their reports to help you determine the value of your claim and whether it is worthwhile to pursue. At this critical time, it is essential to rely on knowledgeable and experienced attorneys, who specialize in construction defect litigation and have a track record of success.
We provide real value to our clients and offer a variety of fee arrangements to accommodate different needs. And we will always offer an initial consultation without charge and without obligation.Get in Touch
1776 on the Green
67 Park Place East, Suite 702
Morristown, New Jersey 07960
Becker’s Construction Practice Group Receives Top Recognition in 2018 Chambers USA Guide
Do we try every case? Absolutely not, but we know that a favorable settlement will not happen unless you are prepared to go all the way. Our team has settled numerous construction defect cases without trial—often because developers are well aware of our prior successes and our commitment to fully litigate if necessary.
Our team won $70,000,000 in settlements and judgments in New Jersey alone in 2017. Some notable achievements include:
- $24 million-dollar settlement for Gold Coast condominium (excessive settlement, water infiltration, code compliance).
- $20 million-dollar jury verdict, including treble damages under Consumer Fraud Act and along with a verdict piercing corporate veil of the worthless nominal developer.
- $18.5 million-dollar settlement for Meadowlands condominium (stucco, stone, siding and roofing installation defects resulting in water infiltration and structural damages).
- $13 million-dollar settlement Hudson Waterfront Condominium for excessive settlement and water infiltration.
- $6 million settlement for Cedar Grove condominium to pay for structural damage, mold, and insect infestation resulting from water infiltration.
What is a construction defect?
A construction defect is generally defined as a defect in the design, workmanship, and/or in the materials or systems used on a project that results in a failure of a component part of a building or structure and causes damage to a person or property, which results in financial harm to the owner. Many defects can appear obvious to the untrained eye, while others are latent and need a trained professional to analyze. We team up with industry professionals to provide you with the expert opinions and testimony you will require for the best financial outcome.
Indications that your community may be suffering from construction defects:
- Water leaks and damages
- Problems with mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems
- Poor landscape and soil conditions
- Improper drainage and ponding of water
- Foundation, floor, wall and roof cracks
- Dry rot
- Structural failures
Did I run out of time to file a claim?
Timing is critical when it comes to discovering, reporting and preserving evidence that may be used in settlement negotiations, or later in trial. New Jersey is subject to two laws that limit the time within which an association may commence a lawsuit. The first is the “Statute of Limitations”, which requires that suit be brought within six years after the association knew or should have known that a defect existed. While it has previously been the opinion of New Jersey’s courts that this time period could not commence earlier than when the owners took majority control of the board, a recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision has made this less certain – suggesting that it is possible that the limitations period may start to run when the developer representatives on the board knew of the defect. The second important statute limiting the time within which suit may be filed is known as the “Statute of Repose”, which essentially limits the amount of time a lawsuit can be commenced to ten years from of substantial completion of each component of the project’s work – some of which may be completed in advance of the issuance of the first certificate of occupancy for a home or unit – and is a complete bar even if the owner or association did not know of the particular defect. Since various components of a project will be completed at various times, the Statute of Repose provides a rolling limitation starting with the earliest completion date and continuing until substantial completion of the final component.
How much will it cost?
The attorneys at Becker & Poliakoff understand the significant expenses that are typically incurred during litigation. From the initial site review and testing by engineering and architecture professionals, to legal depositions and up through trial, the fees and costs can be burdensome. As such, we partner with our clients to establish a fee arrangement that benefits your community and utilizes various strategies to avoid placing a hardship on your residents by having to impose special assessments. In most cases, we are able to offer contingency arrangements, hourly pricing, blended hourly-contingency fees, as well as competitive pricing and payment plans. It is our practice to work with associations to bring a matter to a successful conclusion while limiting the financial strain on the community. It is our intent to seek full recovery from the developer and to return the community to the quality and appearance that was promised to the owners when they bought their homes.
We invite you to contact our experienced legal team to discuss transition or potential construction defect issues and to lead a team to conduct a thorough site evaluation of each building and structure on your property. Once a proper evaluation is completed, we will be able to provide a professional opinion on any deficiency claims that may exist in your community.
Did the contractor commit fraud?
Detailed investigation of the construction process from the very start of the development is essential. Through this analysis, we can determine whether the construction defect was caused by more than just shoddy workmanship. All too frequently, developers, it an effort to save time and money, ignore the recommendations of their own experts and build projects without adequate foundations, proper building materials or compliance with applicable building codes, standards or manufacturer’s specifications. Fortunately, the law in this state provides a remedy in these situations. Under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, a financial recovery can include an award of punitive damages equal to three times the cost of the actual loss (treble damages) plus attorneys’ fees, costs and prejudgment interest. Although such awards are difficult to obtain, we have been successful in obtaining a judgment after a jury trial against a major developer that included treble damages under the Consumer Fraud Act.
What if the builder named a worthless company as the contractor?
Developers and contractors notoriously form “shell” companies to operate major projects and protect themselves from financial responsibility for their mistakes. After a project is completed and sold, these companies are left with little or no assets so even a successful claimant recovers nothing against the builder. However, where a defendant abuses the corporate form to perpetrate a fraud or injustice, the corporate sheild will be “pierced”. We successfully recovered against a major New Jersey developer despite the massive network of subsidiaries it used to try to shield itself from financial liability. This was a rare instance in which the “corporate veil” was pierced to hold the developer financially responsible.