In the construction business, everyone from the general contractors and subs to the suppliers, engineers and architects are responsible for complying with agreed upon specifications for the project, as well as all local and state building codes.
In California, when there are alleged construction defects, it is essential for both contractors and design professionals to know the laws that will protect them from being sued without have a chance to correct the defect, as well as the statutes of limitations for pursuing a claim. Having legal counsel that is experienced in the defense of construction defect claims in Irvine and southern California can help you to know your options.
The Right to Repair Act
Under the statute enacted by the California legislature in 2003, S.B. 800 or the Right to Repair Act, homeowners of newly constructed homes have the right to sue specifically for economic damages, and within the statute of limitations, if there are proven construction defects that are below the standards as described in the Act. The purpose of the law was to allow homeowners the option to pursue a non-litigated resolution of defect claims.
Under the provisions of the law, the homeowner must first file a pre-litigation claim that allows the builder or construction professional to correct flaws within a series of specified time limits:
- Initial inspection within 14 days of acknowledgement of the claim
- Second inspection within 40 days of the first inspection
- Builder notice to repair within 30 days of the final inspection
- Homeowner’s response within 30 days of the builder’s notice
- Commencement of repair within 14 days after the selection of a contractor
- Completion of repair within 120 days
Recent ruling on S.B. 800 helps construction professionals
With a recent decision handed down by the California Supreme Court, McMillan Albany LLC v. Superior Court (2018), the Court affirmed that, for projects which fall under S.B. 800, S.B. 800’s pre-litigation notice and cure procedures were deemed to be the exclusive remedy for both statutory and common law claims related to such projects. This includes claims not only for economic loss, but also for property damage that can arise from construction defects in the original construction.
Because construction defects may cause either injury or economic harm, it is important to be aware of the statutes of limitations regarding both. It is three years for defects that diminish the economic value of a home, with a statute or repose that prevents future lawsuits from occurring beginning after ten years. For injury caused by a defect, the statute of limitations is two years.