As a homeowner you rely on the workmanship of the builder, contractor, and anyone else involved in the construction of your new home when you choose to build a new home instead of purchase an existing home. Unfortunately, that reliance is misplaced sometimes. Defects can appear after the construction project is finished. Some defects are minor cosmetic issues and are easily fixed while others are serious structural defects that pose a hazard to the occupants of the home. Historically, a home owner had the right to initiate legal action in civil court for those defects. In 2002, however, Senate Bill 800, commonly known as “Right to Repair”, was passed and changed how some defects in home construction are handled.
Senate Bill 800 created a mandatory process that must be adhered to before a homeowner has the right to pursue certain types of construction claims in civil court. The purpose behind SB 800 was to provide an efficient and expeditious process by which homeowners and builders/contractors can resolve issues related to defects.
If the requirements set forth in SB 800 are followed by a homeowner and the defect remains unresolved the homeowner retains the option to pursue the issue through traditional legal channels.
The “Right to Repair” covers any potential construction defect action a homeowner may have against a builder, subcontractor, product manufacturer, or design professional groups. If you believe you have a valid construction defect claim you should consult with an experienced California construction law attorney before proceeding to ensure that you protect your right to file formal legal action should the need arise; however, the following provides a basic outline of the steps required by SB 800 before legal action can be pursued for a construction defect.
- Written notice of the defect must be given to the builder’s designated agent.
- Builder must conduct an initial inspection within 14 days of receipt of written notice
- Written notice to homeowner within three business days if a second inspection is necessary.
- Second inspection completed within 40 days of first inspection.
- Builder must provide notice to repair within 30 days of final inspection
- Homeowner must respond within 30 days of notice to repair.
- Repairs must begin within 14 days of choosing contractor.
- Contractor must work in a “diligent manner” and attempt to complete repairs within 120 days.
A homeowner’s failure to follow the requirements of SB 800 provides an absolute bar to action against the builder. In other words, if you do not follow the procedures set forth in the “Right to Repair” statute and attempt to file a claim against the builder, the court will dismiss the case.
For this reason, it is imperative that you consult an experienced San Diego construction law attorney as soon as you realize you have a new construction defect to ensure that you understand the procedures that must be followed to protect your rights should formal legal action become necessary.