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What’s My Defense?  New Hampshire Statute Provides List of Contractor Defenses to Defect Claims

As we discussed in a prior blog post, New Hampshire’s residential construction statute provides contractors with a statutory right to notice of claimed defects prior to being sued.  This statute, however, also provides contractors with another benefit that is often overlooked.  It contains an extensive list of things that residential contractors will not be liable for.  Specifically, NH RSA 359-G provides that residential contractors are not liable for damages caused by:

  • Normal shrinkage from drying or settlement;
  • Their reasonable reliance on official government records or applicable building codes;
  • Defects that were either disclosed to a homeowner or that could have been discovered by the homeowner through the exercise of reasonable diligence;
  • The refusal of the homeowner to allow the contractor to perform warranty/repair work;
  • Normal wear and tear;
  • The homeowner’s failure to perform normal and reasonable maintenance; and
  • Alteration by the homeowner performed without the contractor’s written consent.

This list, of course, is not exhaustive or intended to limit any other defenses available to a residential contractor.  It is helpful to contractors, however, to have such a clear, concise list of potential defenses.

Perkins Thompson has substantial experience defending residential construction defect claims.  For more information, please call Joe Talbot or Dawn Harmon at 207-774-2635, or email them at jtalbot@perkinsthompson.com and dharmon@perkinsthompson.com.