Colorado Public Radio: Construction defect legislation

Colorado Public Radio: Construction defect legislation

Could limiting defect lawsuits bring more condos to Denver?

If you’re looking to buy a condo in Denver, you’ve probably noticed there aren’t many options.Only 2,205 building permits for condos and townhomes are expected to be issued in the Denver metro area during 2014, according to the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver and  Apartment Appraisers & Consultants. That’s less than half of the 4,642 permits issued in 2005.

Developers and some politicians say the problem is it’s too easy to bring a defect lawsuit in Colorado. So for the second straight legislative session, they will try to make it harder to sue for construction defects.

“All of the big national homebuilders, be it Lamar, Meritage, DR Horton, they all build a multifamily product in every other market but this one,” said Chris Elliott with the development firm E5X Management.

Proponents want to require arbitration before going to court. They also want a majority of their homeowners to agree to proceed with a lawsuit, and restrictions of changes homeowner associations can make to governing documents to make it easier to sue. Potential legislation would require a majority of homeowners to vote to proceed with a lawsuit, not just a majority of the HOA board.

Blue film and “sopping wet carpet”

Condo owner Cap Witzler, who owns a home in Denver’s Beauvallon building, thinks that’s a terrible idea. For more than a year, his condo windows were shrouded in an opaque blue film as contractors repaired shoddy work that led water to pool in the condos.

“We had sopping wet carpet that we could just walk in and squeeze water out of it,” Witzler said.If the HOA wasn’t able to file a lawsuit, Witzler said the 200 units at the Beauvallon may have needed to absorb the cost through a huge assessment. Instead they were able to settle with the developers, who had to pay $17 million for the fixes.

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Jenny Davies-Schley

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