What are Construction Defect Cases?
Richards Willis PC represents homeowners against contractors, remediators, industrial hygienists, architects and engineers who fail to properly perform their duties in the construction and/or repair of property. Our homes are not only the largest investment we will ever make, but they are the places where we live our lives and make our memories. Injury to our homes as a result of the carelessness of another is one of the most difficult things to deal with in our lives. Coming home at night to a damaged home or a home under unnecessary construction creates an imbalance in our lives that is much greater than the sum of the damages to the framing, the plumbing and the flooring. If you find yourself injured as a result of a construction defect you need an experienced attorney to handle your case.
California construction defect litigation is, by and large, governed by two statutory schemes. The first, the Right to Repair Act (Cal. Civil Code, §§896 – 945.5), came into effect on January 1, 2003, and is commonly referred by its legislative bill, SB 800. The Act defines what constitutes a construction defect in California by establishing “functionality standards,” the violation of which is actionable as a matter of law. The Right to Repair Act applies to original construction intended to be sold as an individual residence where the purchase agreement is signed on or after January 1, 2003.
The second statutory scheme, the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (Cal. Civil Code, §§1375-1375.1), is commonly referred to as the “Calderon Procedures” and applies to common interest developments such as apartment complexes and Homeowner’s Association claimants. These procedures require prefiling dispute resolution process between homeowners associations and common interest development builders (general contractors, all subcontractors, design professionals, and insurers of all potentially liable parties).
Homeowners injured as a result of construction defect can file suit for strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract, misrepresentation and fraud. However, homeowners can only sue for negligence (often the only cause of action covered under a contractors policy when they have long gone out of business) if the defect caused consequential damage to the property. In 2000, the California Supreme Court held that there could be no cause of action for negligence against a developer, contractor or subcontractor without some proof of consequential damage. Aas v. Superior Court (2000) 24 Cal.4th 627. Pursuant to Aas, a construction defect plaintiff could not sue a builder for a defect unless there had been actual bodily injury or damage to property. The Right to Repair Act expressly superseded Aas by allowing claims where there is no resultant or consequential damage other than the defect itself. As discussed above, however, these causes of action are based on statutory strict liability.