There are several issues that may impact a potential legal claim for common construction defects, including disputes with insurance companies regarding coverage for the defect, time limits for filing homeowners claims, warranty issues and the necessity to provide formal notice of claim to the construction professional under Colorado law.
If you have questions about these and other issues that could impact your homeowners claim, call Murray & Damschen, P.C., today for a free assessment of your case.
Insurance Claim Dispute Lawyers
Construction defect claims often involve complex insurance issues. A builder's insurance company is often required to pay reasonable claims for problems caused by construction defects that are covered under the insurance policy. Unfortunately, a builder's insurance company is in the business of making money for its shareholders; not ensuring that homeowners who are affected by its policyholders' negligence are protected. Our attorneys have years of experience ensuring that reasonable insurance claims are paid in good faith.
Time Limits Can Impact Homeowners Claims
Colorado has a stringent statute of limitations and statute of repose that can bar the filing of any claim against a construction professional based on the passage of time. Most people have heard of a statute of limitations, which requires a claim to be brought within a certain time limit after the claim has arisen. In general, homeowners are required to file a lawsuit within two years after they first see physical manifestations of a construction defect, even if they do not understand the nature of the underlying defect or the seriousness of the situation. Under this standard, a window leak can start the time limit running even if the homeowner does not understand that the leak is caused by a significant hidden building envelope defect. This time limit can even begin to run when some prior owner first saw the physical manifestation of the defect. You should always make every effort to contact an attorney as quickly as possible, and well before the two-year time limit has passed.
Less well known is the fact that Colorado also has a statute of repose for claims to be brought against construction professionals. A statute of repose is different from a statute of limitation in that it sets a time limit by which a cause of action must arise in order to bring a claim against a construction professional. In Colorado, the statute of repose for claims against a construction professional is six years after substantial completion of the home (usually considered the issuance of a certificate of occupancy). An exception exists, however, if the manifestation of a defect is discovered during the fifth or sixth year after substantial completion of the home, in which case the owner still has two years after that date to bring the action. Under the statute of repose, the time to bring a claim may expire before the homeowner ever learns of the problem.
Evaluating the impact of the statute of repose and statute of limitations can be very complicated and fact specific. If you think you may have a construction defect claim, do not delay in contacting a construction defect attorney.
Notice of Claim Process
Before a construction defect lawsuit or arbitration can be filed, Colorado law requires that a homeowner serve a "notice of claim" on the builder or other construction professional involved. This notice provides the builder or construction professional formal notice of the construction defects alleged. The builder is then given an opportunity to inspect the property, after which he or she can make an offer to repair the defect or otherwise settle the claim. If the builder offers repairs, he or she must provide findings and results of his or her inspection to the homeowner. The process should take no more than 90 days, during which time the statutes of limitation and repose are tolled.
If the notice of claim process fails to lead to a resolution, we are prepared to aggressively pursue a lawsuit or arbitration to its conclusion.
Limitations on Damages
In most cases, a construction professional can only be held responsible for a homeowners "Actual Damagtes." Colorado's construction defects law generally defines "Actual Damages" to mean the "the fair market value of the real property without the alleged construction defect, the replacement cost of the real property, or the reasonable costs to repair the alleged construction defect" WHICHEVER IS LESS. The law also allows recovery of "relocation costs, and, with respect to residentail property, other direct economic costs related to loss of use, if any, interest as provided by law, and such costs of suit as may be awardavle pursuant to contract or appliocable law." In most cases, a homeowner cannot recovery their attorneys fees unless there is a contract with the construction professional that specifically allows such recovery.
The law also allows certian "actual damages" to be awarded for personal injuries related to the construction defect, including inconvenience resulting from the defect.
Structural Warranty Claims
Many homes are sold with a 10-year structural warranty provided by a third-party warranty company. This warranty is often transferable to anyone who owns the home within the first 10 years. Therefore, even if the deadlines for filing suit against the builder have passed, you may still have a valid warranty claim that can be a source of significant repairs to your home. While these warranties are often limited to the repair of only major structural defects creating health or safety concerns, they can be an invaluable assistance to homeowners who have nowhere else to turn. We have represented hundreds of homeowners in the structural warranty claim process and may be able to help you as well. Contact us if you have a potential structural warranty claim.
Our knowledgeable insurance claim dispute lawyers can answer your questions about filing insurance claims, warranty claims, time limits for filing lawsuits for construction defects and providing notice of claim.
Various Fee Arrangements Available
Our goal is to help our homeowner clients get their home repaired to the condition they were promised and that they thought they were buying. Depending on your case, we handle construction defect matters on hourly, contingency or a mixed hourly/contingency fee basis. We try to work with you to formulate a fee agreement that serves your needs.