The purpose of this whitepaper is to bring attention to a trend in K-12 and municipal construction contracts, which expands the time periods for law suits against construction professionals.
Introduction and Background
Under Colorado statute, the period of time within which a legal action for construction defects may be brought against a construction professional in Colorado is two years from when the claimant (or its predecessor in interest) discovers or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered the physical manifestations of a defect (the “Statute of Limitations”), but in no case may an action be brought more than six years after substantial completion of the improvement, unless the claim arises in the fifth or sixth year after substantial completion, in which event the action may be brought within two years of such date, i.e., up to eight years after substantial completion (the “Statute of Repose”). See C.R.S. § 13-80-104. While the triggering events differ for the Statute of Limitations and Statue of Repose, the periods are intended to run concurrently to limit the period of time an action may be brought against construction professionals for construction defects to, at most, eight years after substantial completion. Importantly, these limitations periods may be expanded by agreement.
Prior to 1986, Colorado law provided for a 10-year Statute of Repose. However, in 1986, Colorado’s legislature shortened the Statute of Repose time limit to the current six (or up to eight) year period. In 1986, Colorado also redefined the date the claim arises from the date the defect was discovered or should have been discovered to the date the physical manifestation of a defect was discovered or should have been discovered. Therefore, after 1986, the two-year limitations period could begin to run when a claimant should have discovered the manifestation of a defect, even if the claimant did not recognize that a defect existed.