Defective building work – does new legislation offer a second chance for remedy?

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Have you had defective building work carried out to your home at any point since 28 June 1992? If that’s the case but you ran out of time for making such a claim, you may have just been given a second chance to make a claim.

In addition to introducing both enhanced and extended remedies, the Building Safety Act 2022 (‘BSA 2022’) also offers a second chance for those who missed the boat the first time around.

Until now, to avoid the claim becoming statute-barred (i.e. out of time), you would need to have brought a claim within six years of the defective work being carried out (or, if later, within three years of when the defects ought reasonably to have been discovered – subject to a 15 year ‘long stop’).

BSA 2022 includes provisions which will extend from six years to 30 years the limitation period for making claims in respect of defective work done prior to 28 June 2022.  There will also be an extension of the limitation period for defective work done after 28 June 2022 – from six years to 15 years.

There is also a buffer period for those who find themselves perilously close to the limitation deadline when the change takes effect in June. In such cases, the limitation period will not expire until one year after the new limitation period comes into force

Of course, this won’t help if the builder who undertook the defective work has long since gone out of business, with no assets or insurance. However, the retrospective extension of the limitation period is being achieved by an amendment to the Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA 1972) and as with that Act, BSA 2022 also applies to property developers, professional consultants and contractors, as well as to builders.

BSA 2022 will also create a new right to sue manufacturers of construction products if this results in a building or dwelling becoming unfit for habitation. Here again, the limitation period is 15 years, but this provision only applies to claims after 28 June 2022 – except for defective cladding products, where there is a retrospective right to claim for 30 years.

In addition, whereas the DPA 1972 only applied to new builds and conversions, BSA 2022 extends the right to claim to cover any work undertaken on an existing dwelling – i.e. it includes refurbishment works – provided that the work is done in the course of a business.

BSA 2022 has also finally brought into force section 38 of the Building Act 1984 – i.e. the right to claim where damage (including injury) is suffered due to a failure to comply with Building Regulations (that applies to all buildings – not just residential properties). The limitation period is 15 years but is not retrospective.

If you think that any of these changes may allow you to bring a claim, please contact our team for further information. Unfortunately, as solicitors’ costs are not normally recoverable in claims for less than £10,000, it is rarely economical to instruct us unless damages (mainly consisting of the remedial costs) will exceed this figure.