Owning your first new home comes with such high hopes and dreadful fears that not much matches it. Parenthood is close. If the house turns out to have a major construction defect, it might take years to even to want to think about it.

How long do you have to face up to a problem with your new home and decide to make someone take responsibility?

The statute of limitations depends on the type of defect

There are several time limits for taking legal action. Even if you do not have to file a lawsuit, everyone you deal with from now on will have these times in the back of their mind.

The statute of limitations starts a four-year timer on a new home, after which you cannot file suit for a construction defect. But when, exactly, do the four years start? It depends on the defect.

For so-called “patent” defects (those that are obvious or should have been reasonably obvious), it usually starts when you get the keys to the new house. You might “take occupancy” sooner than a few other important dates, like when the certificate of occupancy is issued. But here, the law is in your favor and the time starts whichever is latest.

So-called “latent” defects are hidden or hard to notice, defects nobody could reasonably expect you notice right away. For those, the statute of limitations is four years after you notice them or reasonably should have noticed them.

The statute of repose does not care what type of defect

The statute of repose is the hard, tough-luck deadline that puts a stop to your opportunity to file suit. It is set at ten years.

If you find or should have found the latent defect nine years after getting the house, that means you have one year to act. For once, there are none of the usual legal “however, if” statements attached to this time limit.

A right to cure gives the responsible party a last chance

The last of the big deadlines on everyone’s mind is the construction professional’s “right to cure.” Before you file your lawsuit, you must give the target of that lawsuit 60 days to fix the problem.

Whether they are the architects, material supplier, contractors or whoever else was responsible for the defect, they get this couple-of-months chance to make you happy before getting slapped with your suit.