NEXT TIME YOU TURN ON THE TELEVISION in San Francisco, don't be surprised to see an ad encouraging homeowners to talk to builders and not to lawyers when they need to fix home defects. The three ads, which began running in May, are sponsored by the Homebuilders Association of Northern California and the California Building Industry Association, and will run through November. The ads contain CBIA contact information intended to drive people to information related to solving issues regarding their homes by first contacting their builder.
The first of three ads, entitled, “Welcome Home,” shows a car pulling into a driveway as the garage door opens and closes sporadically. The ad's message is that even the nicest homes sometimes need maintenance.
The second ad, “Lawyer Plumber,” shows a man in a business suit working under a kitchen sink—with his briefcase and a plunger—who is reaching for his cell phone. The message is that a builder, not a lawyer, can fix problems.
The final ad features a “for sale forever” sign with a beleaguered seller talking about how difficult it is to sell a home after a lawsuit has been filed.
In 2003, builders went door-to-door in affected communities talking to homeowners about the counterproductive effect of the burgeoning numbers of lawsuits, which had spread from multifamily units to single-family homes and communities. Though they were met with a positive response as they explained how the builder is there to remedy problems, they realized that this process was not practical on a larger scale. They told the HBANC board that they felt it was important to raise a higher profile in a broader context for the issue, and the ads were the result.