A Construction-Defects Compromise For Reals?

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, hopes are running high at the state capitol today that a new compromise bill with bipartisan sponsorship on the perennially vexatious issue of addressing defects in multifamily residential construction might finally break a years-long logjam:

A bipartisan group of legislators introduced a compromise bill late Friday aimed at encouraging developers to build condominium projects while preserving the right of homeowners to have their day in court.

The legislation arrives at the end of a week that saw a Democratic-sponsored bill and a Republican-sponsored bill covering much of the same territory both run aground, stoking outrage and frustration that the Legislature might be unable to resolve a problem that has vexed lawmakers for years.

House Bill 1279 incorporates provisions in common between the two ill-fated bills, and its sponsors say they’ve removed offending elements that led Senate Republicans to sink Senate Bill 157 in committee and compelled House leadership to deliver Senate Bill 156 to the chamber’s “kill committee.”

But more importantly, the new bill’s sponsors say it will accomplish enough to restore confidence in the condo market for builders while maintaining a fair process for homeowners.

The word we’re hearing from homeowner advocates is positive about this new compromise bill–creating a process for filing suit against a builder for defects that requires more buy-in than simply the HOA board, without taking away the right to sue completely as a moribund bill from Senate Republicans would have done. This issue is sensitive, or at least should be sensitive for Republicans, since siding categorically with big builders over middle-class families is politically not a wonderful place to camp out. Likewise Democrats have to balance the arguments in favor of affordable housing with rights homeowners should not have to sign away just to buy a condo.

If this bill gets through, it could mark resolution on an issue that has taken up much more time and drama in the state legislature than it probably ever deserved. Whether you believe that the ability to sue developers for defects in construction is hurting housing affordability in Colorado or not, we think everybody’s ready to move on.

Hopefully, this is a compromise that gives all stakeholders enough to do that.

2 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Pseudonymous says:

    What problem?

    When has a builder not built whatever makes them the most money?  When has a builder been sued when his/her product wasn't defective?  Why would builders build condos when they can make more money building other things, and why wouldn't they build condos if they could make more money building them?

    A "fair market price" is whatever the market will bear.  You're not going to get cheaper condos by making it harder for builders to be sued.  To the extent you reduce builder costs with this legislation, you will simply increase builder profits when they charge the same price, because that's what the market is at.

    The only "issue" is you have Rs, who generally don't want builders being sued– despite some ideological protestations that private action is the way to resolve issues among property owners.  And, you have a bunch of Ds, who want to have affordable housing, but won't do anything to actually create it, because they're wedded to the private market, which renders them impotent to drive low-cost housing, and have arrived at this "compromise" so that they can be seen as having done something, when they've done nothing.

    This is just as stupid as Jovan Melton's perennial "we need to make the payday lenders more money so they can keep screwing lending to poor people!"

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