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Construction defects may be easier to track under proposed law

Our readers may have heard about some of the more serious building-related tragedies that have occurred in Southern California over the last several months. The most tragic may have been the balcony collapse that killed several young adults during a birthday party in June. This incident sparked national outrage and landed the contractor in some serious hot water, especially when their record showed that they had been responsible for several similar incidents involving faulty design and construction of balconies that left them at risk of water damage and resulting instability.

Now, California lawmakers are springing to action, quick to find a way to hold California construction companies accountable for their construction defects. They have proposed a law that would require any construction company to disclose any past history of criminal charges or civil liability to state building regulators.

The idea is simple, which is that construction companies with questionable records should not be able to continue to do work that is unsafe and endangers human life and property. But, it may not be quite that simple in practice, according to the California Building Industry Association. The CBIA claims that this law is far too broad, because it would require any contractor, regardless of whether they were actually found to be at fault in a civil case, to report to regulators any time they settled a claim or were connected to another contractor who was. The CBIA is concerned that this would cause a tremendous amount of civil litigation for construction companies, which sometimes settle their claims without accepting liability rather than going through expensive and time-consuming litigation.

It remains to be seen whether this law or something similar will pass, but hopefully if it does pass it will not burden California construction firms or force them to unduly modify their business practices.

Source: Inside Bay Area "Bill seeks to require California construction companies disclose building defects," Julia Horowitz, July 14, 2015

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