Sometimes roofs sag, water leaks, and concrete cracks. These are the realities of home construction in California. All of them may be considered elements of construction defects that may also lead to damage claims and possibly litigation in California. Here’s a look at housing and construction defects law 101.
What are Construction Defects?
Construction defects are generally defined as deficiencies in the design, workmanship, materials, or construction of a home that result in a failure of a part of a structure. Construction defects also cause damage to the person or property, usually resulting in financial harm to the owner. Under California Civil Code 896, a construction defect is any condition which makes your home unsuitable for its intended use.
Common examples of bad house construction include:
? Significant cracks in the foundation
? Faulty framing
? Faulty plumbing
? Leaking window, roofs or walls
? Other moisture problems from improper drainage or waterproofing
? Slanting floors or walls
Some defects are apparent, while others may be hidden from plain sight and normally not discovered during a professional inspection. Construction defects are a regular occurrence in the homebuilding industry, and homeowners can sue for damages. But time is a critical factor in these cases. It’s not a question of whether a homeowner can sue, but when they can sue.
Construction Defect Law: A Primer
Homeowners can sue for almost any construction defect. Like most areas of law, construction defect litigation is a specialty, due to the specific knowledge and expertise required. Construction defect attorneys need to understand the statutes of limitation, insurance coverage, and construction practices, as well as standards of care.
In January, the California Supreme Court resolved 15 years of debate when it decided the long-standing question of whether the “Right to Repair Act” (SB800) provides the sole remedy in California residential construction defect cases (where the builder has invoked the statute in the sale/purchase documents). In McMillin Albany LLC v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 241, the court ruled the Right to Repair Act is the sole remedy for residential construction defect claims subject to pre-litigation considerations, where emergency situations make strict compliance infeasible.
A homeowner can sue various parties for almost any construction defect. Suits for construction defects can come as many different causes of action, which include:
? Breach of warranty
? Contract dispute based on the construction contract
? Strict liability of the general contractor
? Tort claims, such as negligence
Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose
This is where timing is crucial. States have different statutes of limitation and statutes of repose, which determine if and when you can file a suit. A statute of limitations states the time allowed for being able to sue after a defect was found or should have been found. A statute of repose is the limit for filing a lawsuit starting from the time of the event (such as delivery of the home), even if the defect has only recently been found.
California construction defect law applicable to SB 800 provides a statute of limitations for each individual building violation addressed with time periods ranging from one year to 10 years, depending on the building component. If a construction defect or other problem is observed, the homeowner must promptly seek legal advice as to their rights under the statute of limitations.
Typically, most defective conditions become apparent approximately three to five years after the completion of construction. They initially appear as hairline cracks or other minor problems. The builder/developer is responsible for all defective conditions even if a subcontractor performed the actual work or if the faulty materials used in construction were manufactured by someone else. You’re going to ensure the materials that are going to be used are the best for the job, so having a look at, Tradefix Direct should allow you to find the part you’re going to need to complete the job. Of course, the involved design professionals and subcontractors remain responsible for their work.
Help with Construction Defect Litigation
California law typically favors homeowners, awarding them damages for several types of claims including the reasonable cost of repair, reasonable relocation and storage expenses, and lost business income if the home was used as a principal place of business.
The construction attorneys at Norton & Associates specialize in construction defect claims ranging from thousands to millions of dollars in damages. Timothy Norton has decades of experience with California construction defect cases and other real estate claims. Call today at 310-706-4134. We are here to help.