2015 Colorado Construction Defect Reform

In January 2015, we really didn’t know what bills the builders would try to pass in the legislative session. One idea that was wisely rejected was a “right to repair.” I wrote about this on the firm’s facebook page on January 5, 2015 with the following:

Below is a recent Denver Post article illustrating [edit: Denver Post article can be found here] a few of the many sides to the complicated issue of Colorado construction defect litigation and reform. I can’t help but weigh in that a “right to repair” would be a horrible solution.

I have been retained in many situations where, following a homeowner complaint about a serious construction defect, builders make a temporary repair and tell the homeowner it will be fine. When the temporary repair fails 2 years later and the homeowner sues, the builder and its insurers hire lawyers to argue (under the current construction defect laws that builders advocates argue spur lawsuits) that the homeowner failed to sue within 2 years of noticing the construction defect.

In the end, the homeowner is left with a six-figure repair cost and possibly life-safety issues with their home, and the builder and its insurers walk away with six figures in undeserved profit for cutting corners. A “right to repair” will force more homeowners to accept these corner-cutting temporary repairs.

In addition, a homeowner will be forced to allow a person or company to make repairs to their home that has already conned them once. The builder may not have the necessary experience to make such repairs. For many, that is an invasive scenario that could lead to additional stress and confrontations to an already tension-filled situation. In sum, Colorado law should not require a homeowner to give the keys to his or her castle to a builder because he or she was unlucky enough to have purchased a defective home from that builder.

Under current Colorado law, a builder has a right to inspect and offer a repair or money before it can be sued. If the homeowner accepts the proposed repair or money, the builder does not get sued and the issue is resolved with very little or no attorney involvement. In my experience, only about 5% of builders even make an offer before getting sued. Consistent inaction by builders is what leads to more lawsuits. And builders of defective homes only have themselves to blame.

Thankfully a right to repair bill is not being forced on homeowners. However, the current bill proposed by builders, SB 15-177, still seeks to erode away homeowners rights in exchange for more profit for the builders. More on that soon.

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