Who Is Liable for the Construction Defects in Your New Home?
When homebuyers invest in a brand new home, they expect that home to be essentially perfect and free from defects. Unfortunately, even new homes come with their fair share of problems, mostly because someone—be it the general contractor or the developer—tried to save money by cutting corners or skimping on materials during the building process. While new construction defects may be unnoticeable at first to the untrained eye, they will cause problems down the road, some of which can be potentially hazardous.
Common New Home Construction Defects
Some of the most common new home construction defects are as follows:
- Façade leaks, which can lead to severe water and weather damage;
- Window leaks, which can lead to drafts and water damage;
- Problems with wood flooring, such as gaps, which can lead to warping from moisture and mold;
- Inadequate fire-stopping materials;
- Lack of or improperly functioning exhaust or ventilation, which can lead to moisture build up, mold, and airflow problems;
- Cheap substitutions, which could affect the entire design and/or structural integrity of the home; or
- Useless warranties from the companies that provide the materials, which could make it difficult for the new homeowners and/or builders to properly fix the home.
Statute of Limitation on Construction Defects in California
Many new home defects can take years to make themselves known, such as cracks in the foundation or faulty plumbing. However, other defects present themselves right away, such as poor roofing, which can cause leaking at the first sign of rain. No matter what the defect is or how early it makes its presence known, however, defects in your new home can drastically lower the value of your home and make it difficult to resell it in the future. Because of this—and because of safety issues—it is best that you discover construction defects as early as possible. This may mean hiring a building inspector to come out and re-inspect your home either before or shortly after purchasing it.
Safety and resale value aside, California statutes of limitations dictate that in order to receive any damages for new construction defects, you must file a claim within three years of discovering the defect, and no more than ten years after construction of the project was completed, regardless of when damages were suffered or defects discovered (AIA California Council).
Who is Liable for New Home Defects?
Typically, the building company that planned and executed the project is liable for all defects in your new home. Under California law, builders must provide a limited warranty of at least one year to “fit and finish” a project. This means that the builder must provide the quality completion of items such as cabinets, flooring, walls, paint finishes, and the like, both inside and outside of the dwelling. If they fail to adhere to this code of professionalism during the initial building phase, they will be liable to reenter the premises and finish the job correctly later on down the road. This warranty applies whether the builder provided you a written copy of said warranty or not.
In order to file a successful claim under this warranty, you – the homeowner – must give the builder a chance to correct the issues. If you try to reach out to the builder but to no avail, you then have the opportunity to file a claim for up to one year after discovering the defect.
When to Consult a Construction Attorney
If you are unable to work things out with the homebuilder on your own, it may be in your best interest to contact an experienced construction attorney. You may be required to mediate or arbitrate before filing a lawsuit. During mediation, you will be asked to discuss the issue and to try to come up with a resolution then. During arbitration, a third party will listen to both sides of the story and make a decision based off the information gathered. If it is not required under the builder’s warranty, the attorneys at Garcia & Gurney, ALC will help you decide if mediation or arbitration will be helpful in your case.
In some instances, a written notification from the lawyers at Garcia & Gurney, ALC is enough to encourage the builder to make the necessary renovations. However, if the builder still refuses to correct the defect in your home even after mediation, arbitration, and/or a written notification, a lawsuit may be in order. It is best to have a Pleasanton construction lawyer on your side should it come to that. To schedule a consultation with our Bay Area construction attorneys, contact us at 925-468-0400 or online today.