For design professionals in California working independently or on integrated project design (IPD) projects, finishing the job is a rewarding experience when the outcome meets the expectations of the client. But when claims of construction defects or a design flaw arise during construction or after completion, it is important to know what state laws can provide protection against unnecessary litigation.
There are specific statutes that allow for correction of a defect and limit the conditions and time frame for filing a claim. Knowing how the law works as well as recent judicial rulings in this area is essential for protecting yourself against litigation claims.
California’s Right to Repair Act
Also called S.B. 800, the Golden State’s Right to Repair Act allows clients of newly constructed homes to file a claim for economic damages for proven construction defects such as water, plumbing, or sewer issues, structural or foundational defects, soil damage, fire protection, or electrical system issues, among other potential problems as outlined in the Act.
Before filing, however, the homebuyer must initiate pre-litigation actions by first providing notice to the builder of allegations of the violation, outlining the specific violations to standards as presented in the Act. Within 30 days, the builder must present relevant plans, specifications, and calculations that are part of a development contract and initiate a plan to correct flaws within:
- 14 days of acknowledgement of claim, initial inspection.
- 40 days of initial inspection, second inspection.
- 30 days of final inspection, notice to repair.
- 30 days of builder’s notice, homebuyer’s response.
- 14 days of selection of a contractor, beginning of repairs.
- 120 days, completion of repair.
Judicial response affirms pre-litigation notice and cure
Recent action from the California Supreme Court has affirmed the right of builders and design professionals to affect corrections to flaws as the exclusive remedy for pre-litigation statutory and common law actions, including claims for economic loss or property damage due to construction defects.
The statute of limitation for defects that lower the property value of a home is three years, and the statute of repose after discovery of a defect is 10 years. Personal injury due to a construction defect is two years.