John C. Abajian, M.D. and Margaret C. Abajian
TruexCullins, Inc. and Thermal Efficiency Construction, Ltd.
Appeal from Superior Court, Chittenden Unit, Civil Division
Helen M. Toor, J.
Bond of Strouse & Bond, PLLC, Burlington, for
A. Foxx and Christopher D. Ekman of Heilmann, Ekman, Cooley
& Gagnon, Burlington, for Defendant-Appellee
J. Lynn and Sean M. Toohey of Lynn, Lynn, Blackman &
Manitsky, P.C., Burlington, for Defendant-Appellee Thermal
Efficiency Construction, Ltd.
PRESENT: Reiber, C.J., Dooley,  Skoglund, Robinson and Eaton, JJ.
1. Plaintiffs had a new roof installed on their home in 2001.
In 2014, after the roof turned out to be defective,
plaintiffs sued the architecture and construction firms that
designed and installed the roof for negligence and breach of
contract. The trial court granted summary judgment to
defendants on the ground that the action was barred by the
statute of limitations. We now affirm.
2. The following facts are undisputed. In 2001,
plaintiffs Margaret and John Abajian hired architectural firm
TruexCullins, Inc., to design additions to both ends of their
home in Williston, Vermont. Plaintiffs hired Thermal
Efficiency Construction, Ltd. (TEC) to serve as the general
contractor for the project. As part of the project, a new
metal standing seam roof was installed on the entire house.
TEC contracted with Murphy's Metals, Inc. to do the
roofing work. The roof was installed during the winter of
3. Plaintiffs had experienced problems with ice damming on
their old roof, which was shingled. Defendants recommended
that plaintiffs install a metal roof to alleviate the
problem.Plaintiffs accepted the suggestion, hoping
that the metal roof would result in fewer ice dams. Mr.
Abajian testified in his deposition that he
"thought that the metal roof was going to
eliminate" the ice damming.
4. Very soon after the new roof was complete, plaintiffs
noticed that ice dams were continuing to occur at the eaves
and that the problem was worse than before. Plaintiff John
Abajian called third-party defendant Murphy's to shovel
the roof shortly after it was installed. Mr. Abajian also
hired a different company to install snow guards on the roof
to prevent snow from sliding down the roof toward the eaves.
It was Mr. Abajian's idea to install the snow guards; he
did not discuss this idea with defendants. In 2004, Mr.
Abajian had the snow guard installer return to move the
guards higher up the roof because he thought they had been
installed too low. Mrs. Abajian testified that the snow
guards made the ice damming worse.
5. During the winter of 2002-2003, water leaked through the
roof and caused damage to the interior of plaintiffs'
home. Plaintiffs' master bedroom and bathroom, office,
dining room, living room, and kitchen were damaged. According
to Mrs. Abajian, the walls "bubbled up, and everything
peeled off." Although plaintiffs had experienced ice
dams on the roof since the 1970s, the leaking was
unprecedented, according to Mr. Abajian. Plaintiffs filed
an insurance claim to cover the cost of
6. Plaintiffs believed the damage they experienced in 2002
and 2003 was due to ice damming that resulted in water coming
through the roof. Mr. Abajian believed that the water was
penetrating the roof "because these seams weren't
good enough." In the summer of 2003, Mr. Abajian had one
of his sons apply caulking along the standing seams in an
attempt to address what he thought was the source of the
problem. Besides the leaking which resulted in the insurance
claim, plaintiffs noticed leaks at least two other times
between 2002 and 2012. Neither of these leaks required
7. Within a few years after the metal roof was installed,
rust spots began to appear on the roof's surface.
Plaintiffs first noticed the rust spots in 2005. Mr. Abajian
believed rust was eating through the galvanized metal from
above, which struck him as unusual. He and his sons painted
over the rust spots when they appeared, hoping that it would
eliminate the problem. Mrs. Abajian was concerned about the
rust spots on the roof panels because "[t]hey were
disintegrating, I believe. Oxidizing." Plaintiffs
painted over rust spots approximately every other year
starting in 2005.
8. By 2005, Mr. Abajian understood that the metal roof was
not performing consistent with his expectations. Mrs. Abajian
knew in 2005 that the roof ...