Texas School Administrators: How-To Video for Construction Defect Claims

Are you a Texas School Administrator with a newer school building? Do you have a defect in the construction that makes it impossible/cost-prohibitive to maintain? In Texas, there are remedies for school districts. Contact our legal team to know what your options are to have a successful construction defect claim. 210.961.8000

Transcript 

When a new project is completed, there's a lot of excitement, a lot of excitement for the new construction because it's going to help your organization achieve its goals. It's really going to be where you do what your organization was meant to do. 

You likely spent a lot of money for your new construction. For a new building, probably in the millions of dollars. And its systems need to function correction - the wall systems, the window systems, the roof, and the grating and drainage. Everything needs to function for you to be able to properly maintain.  

Along with the new building comes the responsibility to properly maintain. And a lot of times, over the years, portions of the construction or portions of the systems deteriorate such that they're more difficult to maintain.  

But what happens when you have a defect in the construction that makes it impossible or cost-prohibitive to maintain? Well, in Texas, there's remedies for that for school districts. School districts are special. They have 10 years from the date of Substantial Completion to bring an action to recover for defective construction. And that includes wall systems, window systems, grating and drainage systems, roof systems, and a lot of times, most notably, HVAC systems - the heating and cooling system of the building.

The 10-year Statute of Repose is what it's called in Texas. It's the absolute bar beyond which a school district cannot recover from the responsible parties, be it the general contractor, or the architect, or other design professionals. You've also got to know that your rights aren't limited simply by the 10-year Statute of Repose, but your rights are also limited by the contract that you signed with the general contractor, and probably the design professionals.

Most contracts in Texas for school district construction are done under what are known as the Standard AIA documents, for the American Institute of Architecture. And those documents have standard clauses in them, standard responsibilities for the school district and the owner, and responsibilities for the general contractor, architects, and other design professionals.

And, so, when you're looking for a remedy, the duties and the remedies that follow, with regard to the general contractor and the design folks, all those are laid out in the contract. Typically, in the Standard AIA contract, you'll find a one-year warranty of repair. And the warranty of repair is in the Standard AIA agreement because that dictates that a general contractor has to come back, or its subcontractors, and repair what needs to be repaired under the warranty of repair.

For example, if the air conditioning system isn't quite tested and balanced correctly, or maybe there's some leaky windows or some roof issues, the general contractor is supposed to come back under its warranty of repair, promise of repair, and make it right. But what a lot of school districts don't know is that there is also in the Standard AIA agreement, there is a 10-year warranty of good and workmanlike performance. 

And what that means is is that the general contractor has promised for a 10-year period that its work will be good and workmanlike. Which means, it will be free from defects. What that means is that the general contractor is obligated to come back, even 10 years out, 9 years and 11 months, even, to keep its promise to fix or remedy and repair problems that the school district has.  

By the time a school building is seven or eight years old, if it's going to have defects, they will likely have manifest themselves. For example, a roof that doesn't meet Code, that leaks more than it should, or windows that have flashing that weren't installed properly. A lot of times, those types of defects won't manifest themselves until five or six years out. And, so, the warranty of good and workmanlike performance can be used by the school district to compel or force the general contractor to pay to get the repair done.

Our law firm is focused on helping school districts recover money due to construction issues.  I started off my legal career representing general contractors, architects, engineers, and other design professionals. These days, I dedicate my time, my firm and I do, to only representing owners, including school districts, against general contractors, architects, engineers, and other design professionals, to recover to help fix some of the problems.

Our methodology is the same on just about every case. Once contacted by the school district, we'll send out a team of experts after doing a review of the design. We'll send out a team of experts to take a look at each of the systems - the wall system, the window systems (if merited), the HVAC system, heating and cooling systems, grating, and drainage. And we'll give a report to the school district on what our recommendations are and whether or not they can proceed.  

We'll, also, of course, review the contract documents so that we know under what legal basis we're able to proceed on your behalf. We give the school district and its Board peace of mind as to how we intend to proceed.

If you've got questions, call us. We'll tell you what your rights are, what your potential remedies are, and what can be done to help address shoddy construction.  

And, finally, one of the pleasant surprises that school district clients learn about us is, if we don't recover anything for your poor construction, then you don't owe us. Put another way, we work on a contingency. Which means, we advance all the costs - expert costs, the costs of court, the deposition costs.  We advance the costs of prosecuting your action to recover for the shoddy construction. And in the event we don't recover, you owe us nothing.

We find that our approach really levels the playing field for school districts and other non-profits whose job is to focus on educating their students, not trying to chase the problems with their building to maintain something that was defectively built in the first place that's impossible to maintain.

Speak with a Gravely Construction Lawyer to Learn your Options.