Denver7’s Lance Hernandez reports–the issue of reforming state law as it pertains to homeowner rights to sue builders over defects in the construction of their homes, in particular multifamily residential developments, has been an annual flashpoint in the Colorado General Assembly for several years. Lobbyists for construction companies claim it’s “too easy” to sue over defects, while homeowners say the only “problem” is that builders don’t want to stand behind their work.
After some talk of bipartisanship on the issue early in the session, Republicans in the Colorado Senate “moved beyond” the compromise that had been agreed upon between themselves and the Democratic House, and introduced legislation that would crack down on homeowner’s rights. Among those bills, GOP Sen. Jack Tate’s Senate Bill 155 might be the shortest in length–and the most brazen in terms of screwing homeowners:
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, and Rep. Lori Saine, R-Weld County, seeks to redefine the term “construction defect” to mean, “a defect in the design or construction of any improvement to real property that causes damage, the loss of use or personal injury.”
“It’s absurd,” said Fort Collins homeowner Michael Pretz. “You have to have a bad outcome before you can consider it a construction [defect].”
Pretz said he and his neighbors sued their developer because some of the attics in their townhomes didn’t have adequate drywall between the firewalls, and because retaining walls were not built with adequate anchors.
“I worked in the fire service for 35 years,” he said. “When you get a fire that goes unchecked from unit to unit, that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Pretz said under this proposed bill, you wouldn’t have any recourse unless there was a fire that caused significant damage. [Pols emphasis]
Requiring homeowners to suffer the consequences from a construction defect before being able to sue to fix it goes against any reasonable policy goal of harm reduction–for the sole purpose of reducing the liability of construction companies to situations where their shoddy workmanship has actually hurt people. We think most people would agree it’s a lot better to get a known construction defect fixed before it hurts people, even if that’s maybe not the most financially advantageous situation for construction companies.
It’s one of those bills that’s so bad you can hardly believe a legislator had the gall to put their name on it.
And yet here we are.