Construction Defect Laws and Housewrap
Complaints of poor or defective construction are largely subject to a back and forth of civil actions that result in expensive suits and countersuits. The suits are usually over enforcement of builder’s warranties which may cover defects poorly.
While these suits can cover a wide range of defects, moisture damage is a frequent and expensive cause.
Registration Requirements and Building Codes:
Many states and provinces require builders to register, meet a range of requirements, and undergo background checks. Contractors are entitled to liens against building owners to recover unpaid bills. Provinces, states, and municipalities have their own sets of building codes to assure minimum construction standards. Laws protect the public against false advertising claims. There are contract requirements, licensing requirements, bonding and insurance requirements, and laws against excessive down payments.
In some states, especially in residential construction, if a buyer complains about a construction defect, the state registrar of contractors will require the builder to correct the defect or potentially lose its license to build homes. In Arizona, construction defects that manifest themselves within eight years after construction have to be repaired by the builder. The builder is entitled to a 90 day period to effect repairs and is entitled to arbitration if the buyer claims damages.
The buyer has to prove that a defect exists. This usually requires hiring and paying for qualified outside consultants. In some states, government loans can be secured to cover repairs while the lawsuits are underway. If the buyer wins the suit, the costs of repairs and legal costs can be recovered. Settlements are based on the ability of the builder to pay and the amount of available insurance coverage the builder has.
The Colorado Construction Defect Laws:
Over the last 15 years, Colorado has taken the initiative in reforming construction defect laws. In 2001, after years of lobbying by Colorado’s insurance and construction industries, the Colorado state government passed its construction defect legislation in an attempt to regulate all claims of construction defects. The law was amended in 2003 with the intention of curbing frivolous lawsuits involving the construction industry and limiting the liability of construction professionals. The laws were revised again in 2006 and in the 2015 session. The recent laws generally favor the construction industry, making the defect claim more difficult to make.
Recently, Ohio has begun a similar process of reform by introducing its own set of new construction defect laws.
While attention to design, products and installation are critical to reducing the potential for defects, extra attention should be paid to the air and moisture membranes and their installation.
Torn housewrap blowing in the wind, should be a warning sign that you may face a future defect lawsuit. That’s why more builders are choosing to upgrade from housewrap to a higher performance membrane like DELTA®-VENT SA. Self-adhesive, air and watertight, DELTA®-VENT SA eliminates many of the common problems associated with housewrap.