A homeowner sued the architect and contractor that designed and installed their metal roof, alleging defects due to negligence and breach of contract. The work was done 13 years before suit was filed. Just a year after installation the roof began leaking. The homeowner thought it was due to ice damming so they installed snow guards. Leaking continued in subsequent years and rust spots developed. The homeowner painted over the rust spots to help preserve the metal. When major leaks occurred almost 12 years after installation, the homeowner hired a builder to investigate the cause. He discovered widespread rusting on the underside of the metal panels and rotted underlayment, which in his opinion was due to inadequate insulation. Suit was then filed. The trial court granted a motion to dismiss because the 6 year statute of limitations had run.

This was affirmed on appeal with the court holding that within just a few years of installation the homeowners “were award of facts sufficient to lead a reasonable homeowner to investigate the condition of the roof.” The question is not when the plaintiff’s actually discovered the true nature of the roof defect, but rather when a reasonable person should have discovered it. Abajian v. Truexcullins, Inc., 176 A.3d 524 (Vt. 2017)

About the author: Article written by J. Kent Holland, Jr., a construction lawyer located in Tysons Corner, Virginia, with a national practice (formerly with Wickwire Gavin, P.C. and now with Construction Risk Counsel, PLLC) representing design professionals, contractors and project owners. He is founder and president of a consulting firm, ConstructionRisk, LLC, providing consulting services to owners, design professionals, contractors and attorneys on construction projects. He is publisher of ConstructionRisk.com Report and may be reached at Kent@ConstructionRisk.com or by calling 703-623-1932. This article is published in ConstructionRisk.com Report, Vol. 20, No. 5 (May 2018). Copyright 2018, ConstructionRisk, LLC