What’s the big deal about construction defects?

What’s the big deal about construction defects?

Even though Colorado’s laws are among the most builder-friendly laws in the country, some big developers are waging a war on Colorado’s construction defects laws that allow homeowners to hold developers and builders for construction defects in they homes they sold. Shoddy construction negatively impacts our communities by causing blighted areas and putting Colorado’s homeowners in harm’s way.

What do some of these proposed construction defects reform ordinances and bills aim to do?

  • Exempt builders from complying with important standards. Builders could violate manufacturer instructions for proper and safe installation if done “to code.”
  • Prevent homeowners from amending declaration. Developers could write rules forcing binding arbitration on homeowners with no chance of appeal, as well as controlling who the arbiter is, the timing of arbitration and who pays for the private judge/arbiter.
  • Require expensive, burdensome homeowner disclosures. Homeowners would have to hire expensive experts to provide the information to meet disclosure requirements – and slow down the process to run the clock out on legal action in some cases.
  • Mandate HOA voting processes that violate existing law. Meddling in HOA board construction defects process violates the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act and Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act.
  • Take away homeowner associations’ right to a jury trial. Prohibits HOAs from legally amending their governing documents to seek a jury trial. As a result, the ordinance takes away homeowners’ fundamental right to a jury trial.
  • Force homeowners association into an expensive arbitration process. While a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit can file a case for $322, arbitration typically costs $60,000 to $100,000 for an HOA construction defect case.
  • Take away the right of homeowner associations to govern themselves. Impose unreasonable requirements and restrictions that make it very difficult for associations to pursue legal claims against builders and developers.
  • Promote the construction of defective homes. A proposed ordinance specifically allows builders to destroy construction defect evidence that a homeowner would need to prove claims– and also allows builders to opt out of ordinance rules without giving similar opt-out rights to homeowners.

Denver, Lone Tree, Lakewood, Parker, and Aurora city council have already passed ordinances that include many of the features above. Despite promises from big developers that they would build more affordable housing if these ordinances are passed – affordable housing projects are still few and far between in those citites.

Even so, the industry is making the same empty promises to the legislature for another year in a row. We can’t let that happen: Colorado’s legislature needs to stand tall against the bullying of the big developers and builders. After all, we can all agree affordable housing still deserves to be safe, well built, accountable housing. Coloradans deserve legal protection for the products they buy for their families — why should their home, their single biggest investment in life, be an exception?

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