Is there anything I can do to get a builder to pay for damage to a house related to its initial construction?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is there anything I can do to get a builder to pay for damage to a house related to its initial construction?

I am the second owner of the house I am in now. At the time of its construction

16 years ago, the local building code did not require house wrap or window tape installation underneath the siding. While I was having a roof put over the patio in the back, the contractor discovered water damage to the OSB sheathing under each window. The only way to fix this was to remove all of the vinyl siding, cut out and replace the damaged portions of the OSB, install house wrap and window tape, then reinstall the vinyl siding. This was done to the back of the house. We did check under windows around the rest of the house and found the same water damage. The estimate to repair the rest of the house is $20,000. Is there anything that can be done to have the builder pay for this or a portion of it since this is due to what I consider to be faulty construction?

Asked on June 13, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you have no recourse against the builder for several reasons:
1) YOU were not contracted with them--you are the second owner. There is no relationship between yourself and the builder and they had no duty or obligation to you.
2) After 16 years, it is too late to sue for construction defects: the longest potentially applicable "statute of limitations," or time period within which you must start or file your lawsuit, is five years in your state.
3) If house wrap or window tape was not required when  the house was built, then it was not faulty construction: faulty construction is determined with reference to the codes and standards in place when the construction was done, and if these things were not required at the time the home was built, it is not faulty to not install or use them.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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