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What should homeowners know about construction defect defenses?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2022 | Purchasing Real Estate |

People who purchase property in the San Francisco Bay Area are keenly aware of the costs. While the purchasers may have good jobs and earn a substantial salary, they must still be cognizant of financial outlays. Safety is, of course, also a primary factor.

When building a property, improving it or making repairs, they will need to hire professionals in the contracting industry to ensure it is done correctly. This is essential to adhering to the state codes, making sure it is safe and being fully protected themselves. However, when a homeowner lodges a complaint about construction defects, any entity that might be responsible for those defects can claim certain legal defenses. Knowing them is crucial to a negotiation or if litigation is required.

Affirmative defenses

When the homeowner makes a complaint about defects, the contractor, builder, subcontractor, manufacturer or design professional will have certain affirmative defenses available. This is important because it could excuse them from being obligated to address the issue by replacing or repairing it. They might also be free from liability. If the issue is due to an act of nature, then they are protected from liability.

Any of these entities might claim that the homeowner did not take the necessary steps to minimize or stop the damage in a timely fashion. The homeowner must also inform the builder and other entities who were involved in the project in a timely fashion.

This defense will not cover the builder’s failure to respond sufficiently to being informed of the problem. If, for example, the roof was faulty and presented a danger and it is due to a failure on the part of the builder or a defect in the materials that were used, the homeowner must inform them as soon as it is discovered. The builder must respond. If they do not do so, they cannot use this type of defense.

It is also a defense if the homeowner or others involved with the project did not adhere to the recommendations for use, maintenance and upkeep. In short, it is imperative for homeowners to follow the basic instructions, not misuse, abuse or neglect the property or use the structure for reasons other than its intent. Then the builder and others who worked on the property cannot claim they were not at fault.

Understanding the law

Creating a home is something people take seriously. When there are problems with any aspect of the project, it is not only disappointing, but it can be dangerous. In many instances, the owner and the contractor, company or others who were asked to make repairs will find common ground and settle the matter with little rancor. Still, given the potential for massive costs, it is not uncommon that the disagreement becomes acrimonious. Attorneys who are experienced in real estate law can help clients assess their options.