How long is a contractor liable for his work?

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in the home construction or remodeling process is discovering that a contractor made an error or negligent mistake that caused a defect.

Homeowners in Maryland can make a claim for a breach of contract against the contractor who made a potentially dangerous error. There is a three-year statute of limitations when filing this claim in Maryland. Prudent buyers or homeowners should not assume that they have more than three years from the date the contract was signed to file their claim. Although there are exceptions, it’s a good idea to follow the statute of limitations and pursue legal counsel as soon as possible.

It’s helpful to imagine the three years of the Maryland statute of limitations as a clock starting to tick. Sometimes that clock can start ticking before the contract is signed. Other times it doesn’t start ticking until after the contract is signed or when the statute is triggered by Maryland’s “discovery rule.” Under this rule, the three-year statute of limitations goes into effect when the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know of the error.

No matter what, the clock does start ticking under Maryland law. When it stops ticking and a claim still has not been filed with the court, the buyer cannot legally bring a claim.

Of course, it’s also helpful to know what kind of damages to expect in a construction breach of contract case. Generally, the amount of recoverable damages will get the plaintiff back to the position they would be in had the contract been carried out properly. Most often, the plaintiff will recover damages to pay for the repair of the defect.

Contractor liability very much depends upon the terms of the contract and the nature of the work. Keep in mind that contract terms can also vary from the law. Perhaps the most important part to remember is the Maryland statute of limitations. If the buyer waits until after that statute of limitations (SOL) clock stops ticking, they are out of luck.