Today, many industry-standard construction contracts contain a “correction period,” which is a period of time (typically one year) following final project completion during which an owner may require the contractor to return to the job site and correct defective work at the contractor’s expense. However, an owner need not invoke this provision. Rather, when faced with defective work discovered during the correction period, an owner typically has two options: invoke the correction period and require the contractor to remedy its work or fix the defective work on its own and sue the contractor to recover the costs to remedy the defect. As one can imagine, most owners invoke the correction period, but that is not always the case.
When an owner invokes the correction period, it gives the contractor the right to rectify the defective work, which it cannot obstruct. See Ohio Historical Soc. v. Gen. Maintenance & Eng. Co., 65 Ohio App.3d 139, 144, 583 N.E.2d 340, 343 (10th Dist. 1989) (“the one-year provision established a right in the contractor to rectify any defects within one year of completion and a corresponding duty of the owner to allow the contractor to correct the defects before instituting alternative remedies.”) (citing First Nat. Bank of Akron v. Cann, 503 F.Supp. 419, 434 (N.D. Ohio 1980), aff’d, 669 F.2d 415 (6th Cir. 1982)). See also Mann v. Rubber Roofers of Ohio, Inc., 5th Dist. Stark No. 95-CA-0243, 1996 WL 132271, *2 (“the two-year period represents a time during which [the contractor] had the right to rectify any defect, and [the owner] had a corresponding duty to permit [the contractor] to do so”). Therefore, if the owner invokes the correction period, but disagrees with something the contractor has done or plans to do, and the owner corrects the defective work on its own, it risks breaching the contract. This is certainly a risk the owner should consider prior to invoking the corrections period.
Finally, contractors and owners alike should be aware that a contractor’s responsibility for defective work does not end at the expiration of the correction period. A contractor still remains liable until the expiration of the eight-year statute of limitations found in R.C. § 2305.06. Ohio Historical Soc., 65 Ohio App.3d at 144 (rejecting contractor’s argument that its liability ended at the one-year correction period). Therefore, when an owner discovers defective work beyond the correction period, it can still sue the contractor for damages, but it can no longer require the contractor to return and correct the defective work.
Taft Construction attorneys represent companies ranging from small to large, from the supplier to the end user. We understand the economic challenges our clients face, and we are committed to keeping legal costs reasonable in light of the economics of the matters we are addressing. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys with questions about the correction period or other construction matters.