The Nebraska Supreme Court recently issued an important opinion concerning the statute of limitations for a homeowners bringing claims against contractors. When an owner acts as his own builder or general contractor, he must file a lawsuit against a subcontractor within four years of the subcontractor completing its work, not within four years of completion of the total home or project. Add this to the list of reasons a homeowner should not act as his own general contractor.

In McCaulley v. C L Enterprises, Inc, a homeowner acted as his own general contractor. After problems arose, the homeowner filed suit.  The subcontractors claimed that the lawsuit was filed too late, arguing that the four-year limitations period began when they finished their work, not upon the substantial completion of the home. The homeowner’s lawsuit may have been timely if he had hired a builder or general contractor. However, the Supreme Court ruled that each individual subcontractor completed separate projects rather than one single project. The completion of each subcontractor’s work started separate four-year periods and each elapsed before the homeowner filed the lawsuit. As a result, the homeowner was unable to recover potentially valid claims against the subcontractors.

The need to keep track of separate and distinct limitations periods for each subcontractor adds to the ever-growing list of reasons to hire a professional builder or general contractor. We recommend you contact an experienced construction attorney to help guide you through the difficulties that can arise on a construction project.

This article was written by Andrew Wilkinson