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Do builders get the chance to fix defects in new construction?

Depending on the size of the project and the extent of the problem, an alleged construction defect can lead to complex litigation with a lot of money at stake. Many construction companies would rather have the option to fix any defects in a new construction than go to court over the matter.

To help them, California law SB 800 gives builders the chance to make necessary repairs. In many cases, companies have avoided litigation by making the property owner "whole" in this way.

SB 800 applies to all newly-built residential properties, including individual homes and new condominiums, with a purchase agreement signed by the seller on or after the beginning of 2003. It covers construction defects for 10 years after the close of escrow. Other problems, such as with plumbing, paint or fixtures, have shorter statutes of limitation -- from one to five years.

Builders must provide several documents to the buyer of the new construction, including information on the warranty, and contact information in case the buy needs to make a claim.

If the homeowner discovers a defect in that time, he or she must notify the builder and give that company "reasonable and timely access for inspection and repairs." The buyer is required to follow maintenance guidelines that the builders must provide in writing. These rights and obligations pass to subsequent buyers as well.

It often makes sense for all parties to a legal dispute, including in the construction field, to try to resolve the problem outside of court. However, construction companies sometimes find themselves the target of litigation. When that happens, they likely will need experienced legal counsel on their side.

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