By Jill Ralph. The California Legislature has finally passed a construction defect law. SB 800 attempts to balance the interests of trial lawyers representing homeowners and the goals of the home building industry. Under the law, buyers of new homes sold after Jan. 1, 2003, will have more clout to demand that defects are fixed before damages result.

The law also buys home builders time; they will have the right to fix reported problems before they are taken to court. The law limits the time homeowners have to file the defect lawsuits. Among other things, the bill provides the following:

  • Provide 1-, 2-, 4-, and 10-year periods of time for filing actions.
  • For the first time, establish definitions and liability standards for construction defects.
  • Give builders the right to repair defects before being sued for violation.
  • Preserve homeowner rights to sue if unhappy with repair of defect.
  • Require claimants to give builders notice prior to litigation.

Published in BIG BUILDER Magazine, February 2003