August 2018 - Wyman Legal Solutions

The Notice to Owner – Protect Your Lien Rights Under Florida’s Construction Lien Law

Under Florida’s Construction Lien Law, it is essential for most subcontractors and material providers, except those who have a direct contract with the Owner, to serve a Notice to Owner in order to perfect their construction lien rights on a project. These “non-privity” lienors must take additional steps to notify the Owner of their involvement in the project. This is done by serving the Owner and General Contractor with a “Notice to Owner”.  The Construction Lien Law Section 713.06(2)(c) provides the proper form. 

Most importantly, a Notice to Owner must be served timely or all lien rights will be lost.  A Notice to Owner is generally considered to be timely when it is served (a) before commencing to supply services or materials, or (b) after commencing to supply service or materials, but before one of the following events occurs: (i) 45 days elapse from the first furnishing of services or materials, or (ii) the general contractor presents the Owner with a final affidavit and the Owner makes final payment. When specially fabricated materials are involved, the time period to serve the Notice to Owner begins to run from the date the fabrication of the materials commences – not first delivery.   

The Notice to Owner is required to be served at a time when, generally, a subcontractor or material supplier does not know or expect that a lien could become necessary or desired. Therefore, it is always best for a subcontractor or material provider who does not have a contract with the Owner to serve a Notice to Owner on the Owner and general contractor of the project in a timely fashion in order to preserve future lien rights on a project. The Notice to Owner, by itself, does not act as a lien. It is merely the first, but a critical step in the lien process for most subcontractors and material providers.  

There are a few exceptions when a Notice to Owner is not required. However these circumstances occur infrequently and need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The best practice is for a subcontractor or material provider to always serve a Notice to Owner when they do not have a direct contract with the Owner.  

A failure to timely act under Florida’s Construction Lien Law will result in a waiver of lien rights. You’ll severely lose leverage later and this one mistake can easily prevent a subcontractor or material supplier from getting paid. Knowledge of these laws is critical, and every circumstance is different, so be sure to consult with an attorney who is familiar with Florida’s Construction Lien Law. 

When Must My Homeowners Insurance Company Pay To Replace My Roof? Florida’s “25% Rule”

how to negotiate roof replacement with insurance

In 2017, the Atlantic coast of the United States was hit with three of the top five costliest hurricanes ever (Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma). Early forecasts are predicting that the 2018 South Florida Hurricane Season will be busier than usual. And while roofs and roofing systems are among the most damaged portions of residential and commercial properties during hurricanes, insurance coverage for roofs is among the most misunderstood.

As a property owner, it is critical that you have your roof inspected as soon as possible after a hurricane if you think your roof may have suffered any damage. If your roof was damaged, immediately contact your insurance company to initiate a claim. And if there is any way for you to minimize any further damage (such as by covering your roof with the dreaded “blue tarp”), do so immediately.

When must your insurance company pay to replace your roof instead of repairing it? This depends on many factors – the most relevant is Florida’s Building Code Section 708.1.1, which states:

“Not more than 25% of the total roof area or roof section of any existing building or structure shall be repaired, replaced or recovered in any 12-month period unless the entire roofing system or roof section conforms to requirements of this code.”

For older roofs, damage is more than 25% of the roof can require your insurance company to pay for an entirely new roof based on current Florida Building Code requirements. What this means to you is that if any particular “roof section” suffers greater than 25% damage, then you are entitled to a replacement of that entire “roof section.” A “roof section” is defined in the Florida Building Code as:

“A separating or division of a roof area by existing expansion joints, parapet walls, flashing (excluding valley), difference of elevation (excluding hips and ridges), roof type or legal description; not including the roof area required for a proper tie-off with an existing system.”

As a general rule of thumb, roofs with ridges or valleys are considered a single roof section based on the 25% evaluation. Roofs that contain different materials (such as tile and flat), or that have different elevations are considered to have multiple roof sections. The damage analysis is conducted on a section-by-section basis.

Insurance companies will often try to minimize roof damage or argue that certain damage was pre-existing to avoid paying to replace an entire roof. After all, it is cheaper for your insurance company to only pay for patching damaged areas than to pay to replace your roof. Insurance companies will take advantage of the unrepresented property owner in these situations. To have a fighting chance of obtaining the roof replacement you are entitled to, you need to level the playing field with your insurance company. Engaging professionals such as hurricane or insurance lawyers, public adjusters, and roofing consultants can drastically increase your likelihood of convincing your insurance company to pay for a full roof replacement. These professionals know how to evaluate roof damage, and also understand how these evaluations affect your insurance coverage.

When clients retain Andrew Wyman of Wyman Legal Solutions for roof damage claims, we quickly coordinate with a roofing consultant to inspect your roof and determine whether any tile “uplift” occurred during the hurricane. This may have caused damaged to areas below the tile, not readily apparent to the untrained eye. We then take the roofing consultant’s report and obtain a cost estimate for the replacement of the roof. We submit these reports to the insurance company on your behalf and handle all negotiations and arguments with their adjusters so that you obtain the compensation you are entitled to.

There are also other circumstances that require an insurance company to pay to replace your roof even if your roof did not suffer 25% damage. For example, did you know that if your roof tile is no longer manufactured and you are unable to match new tiles to your existing tiles that you may be entitled to a roof replacement?

If your roof was damaged by a hurricane or other storm, Andrew Wyman and Wyman Legal Solutions can help empower you to obtain the recovery that you deserve. For an initial consultation, please call (561) 361-8700 or schedule an appointment online today.