Wisconsin’s Right to Cure Law
Wisconsin’s right to cure law went into effect in 2006. Although the law has been on the books for over a decade, the right to cure law is complicated and includes many deadlines that both contractors and homeowners regularly miss. This law is made up of two statutes: Wis. Stat.101.148 and 895.07. The right to cure law is designed to prevent (or at least delay) lawsuits against contractors for faulty workmanship.
Scope of the law
The right to cure law covers claims for defective workmanship or construction defects. The law details a process which a homeowner must follow before they can file suit against the contractor for:
- defective material,
- Violation of applicable codes or
- Failure to follow accepted trade standards for workmanlike construction.
The right to cure law does not cover other claims that may be brought such as violations of the home improvement practices act.
Effect of the Right To Cure Law
The law prevents a homeowner from filing suit against a contractor without first giving the contractor the opportunity to correct faulty workmanship. A homeowner who files suit without providing the right to cure will have their case dismissed without prejudice. In other words, the homeowner will have to give the contractor a chance to remedy the alleged defects before resorting to legal action. The statute of limitations will not run during the right to cure period, which means that the right to cure should not be viewed as a procedural tool to defeat a claim since that claim very well can pop up again.
The contractor is required to provide notice of the right cure law. Under Wisconsin statute 895.07, the parties contract must include the following language in conspicuous text:
Wisconsin law contains important requirements you must follow before you may file a lawsuit for defective construction against the contractor who constructed your dwelling or completed your remodeling project or against a window or door supplier or manufacturer.
Section 895.07 (2) and (3) of the Wisconsin statutes requires you to deliver to the contractor a written notice of any construction conditions you allege are defective before you file your lawsuit, and you must provide your contractor or window or door supplier the opportunity to make an offer to repair or remedy the alleged construction defects. You are not obligated to accept any offer made by the contractor or window or door supplier. All parties are bound by applicable warranty provisions.
In addition, the right to cure pamphlet is to be provided to the homeowner.
Time Lines and Requirements
The right to cure process can be lengthy with a lot of back and forth. Murdock Law has prepared the following infographic to summarize the process for a contractor construction defect issue. Please note, however, that the process and timelines would be slightly different if suppliers (windows and doors) were involved.
Homeowner Notice 90- Notice
A homeowner who believes there is defective workmanship must:
- deliver written notice to the contractor containing a description of the claim in sufficient detail to explain the nature of the alleged defect and a description of the evidence that the claimant knows or possesses, including expert reports, that substantiates the nature and cause of the alleged construction defect.
- Provide the contractor or supplier with the opportunity to repair or to remedy the alleged construction defect.
This notice must be provided to the contractor at least 90-days before suit is filed.
Contractor 15 Day Response
The contractor then has 15 working days (25 days if the contractor makes a claim for contribution from a supplier) that has received the notice of claim to respond with the following options:
- A written offer to repair or remedy the construction defect at no cost to the claimant. The offer shall include a description of any additional construction necessary to remedy the construction defect and a timetable for the completion of the construction.
- A written offer to settle the claim by monetary payment.
- A written offer including a combination of repairs and monetary payment.
- A written statement that the contractor rejects the claim. The contractor shall state in the written response to the claim the reason for rejecting the claim and include a comprehensive description of all evidence the contra tor knows or possesses, including expert reports, that substantiates the reason for rejecting the claim. The contractor shall also include in the written response to the claim any settlement offer received from a supplier.
- A proposal for inspection of the dwelling.
Owner Response to Contractor offer
If the homeowner accepts the contractor’s proposed resolution the matter is concluded. But if the homeowner rejects a settlement offer made by the contractor, the owner must do so within 15 days. In the rejection notice, the homeowner must include the reasons for the claimant’s rejection of the contractor’s offer. If the owner believes that the settlement offer omits reference to any portion of the claim, or was unreasonable, the claimant’s written notice shall include those items that the claimant believes were omitted and state the reasons why the homeowner believes the settlement offer is unreasonable.
Contractor Supplemental Response
After receiving the homeowner’s rejection, the contractor shall provide a supplemental offer to repair or remedy the construction defect or state that no additional offers will be made within 5 days of receiving the rejection.
Homeowners Supplemental response to the supplemental offer
If the contractor provides a supplemental offer, the owner has 15 days to accept or reject the supplemental offer. An owner rejecting the offer shall again state the reasons why the claimant believes the supplemental settlement offer is unreasonable. If the contractor declines to make a supplemental offer, or if the claimant rejects the supplemental offer, the claimant may bring an action against the contractor for the claim described in the notice of claim without further notice.
If a person fails to timely respond to any notice served in a manner required under this section, then any offer made in that notice is rejected. If the contractor rejects an offer, then the homeowner can immediately file suit.