While the statute of repose applies once a contractor substantially completes his scope of work, what happens if that same contractor comes back to do punch-list items or other repairs? The answer depends on the scope of work the contractor undertakes when he comes back.
Our Supreme Court has held that when a contractor performs repairs at some date after having fully completed its initial construction work, the statute of repose begins anew and allows the injured party to file an action against that contractor within ten years of completion of the repair work for “for defects relating solely to that repair work”. Horosz v. Alps Estates, Inc., 136 N.J. 124, 133 (1994).
The statute of repose applies to improvements to real property; therefore, simple punch-list items completed after substantial completion do not extend the date of substantial completion. However, substantial repairs undertaken after substantial completion serve to create a new statute of repose period. The threshold issue will be whether the subsequent repairs constitute improvements to real property, and if so, the plaintiff will have a new statute of repose period to bring claims associated strictly with that repair work.