Durango’s Turn

Durango’s Turn

Tomorrow Durango City Council will vote on an ordinance to protect developers over its own homeowners in yet another misguided bid to stimulate condo construction. Council members will decide whether to protect homeowners – or stack the deck in favor of bad-acting developers who don’t build quality homes.

A renter-driven real estate market nationwide slowed the construction of condos across Colorado. It’s been proven over and over again that the state’s economy favored short-term rental units and apartments over condos:

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Now that the recession is over and homeownership is back on the rise, the demand for condos is growing. But rather than give up lucrative apartment and luxury for-sale construction, developers have found a scapegoat for their failure to build less-profitable condos: construction defect law.
If the Durango city council sides with developers, where does that leave homeowners like Corinne & Chuck Owens?

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The couple moved into their Durango home with plans to live out the rest of their lives there. The investment was substantial, but the security of owning their forever home was worth it.

One neighbor had water issues, then another, and soon enough almost every condo in their building had problems. Water troubles gave way to numerous structural issues like poor drainage, roof problems, and stucco damage. The dance studio in the ground floor of the building flooded – twice.

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“You’re stuck holding the bag by yourself,” Chuck says. After two years of litigation, the Owens’ and their fellow homeowners settled their case with the developer. They won the majority of their claim, but aren’t certain if it will cover the extensive repairs.

And that damage is indeed extensive.

The structural defects that plague homeowners like the Owens’ are not leaky faucets or noisy floorboards or the consequences of neglect. When bad developers cut corners to maximize profits, the resulting construction defects are major. These same developers downplay the impact their shoddy work has on homeowners’ lives and well-being.

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Government shouldn’t make it more difficult for homeowners to hold developers accountable for their shoddy work but that’s what Durango City Council might do. The proposed ordinance would require homeowners to jump through an unreasonable number of hoops, including disclosure of detailed construction information possible only through hiring expensive engineers and other experts. It would require homeowners to list potential property value impacts, even if the statements are false. Maybe most troubling is that complying with these mandates could run out the clock under the statutes of repose/limitations – with no recourse. And it would interfere in the decision-making processes of homeowner associations.

The Durango City Council will decide if homeowners like the Owens’ will have a real shot at making sure developers make it right when they don’t build it right the first time.

In a state where construction defect laws already heavily favor builders, it is imperative that local cities stand up for the rights of homeowners. Everyone deserves a safe home, and when big developers don’t build it right the first time, homeowners should have every option to be made whole.

The Durango city council has a big decision to make – we hope they protect everyday homeowners like Chuck and Corinne.


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