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RE: Bad news for homeowners, good news for builders - Is it good news for Engineers?[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
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- Subject: RE: Bad news for homeowners, good news for builders - Is it good news for Engineers?
- From: sharonb(--nospam--at)slarchitects.com
- Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 08:57:45 -0800
OPINION I believe this is bad news for engineers as well as architects, as it seems to undermine the code. You home can be constructed without code required detailing as long as there is no damage from an earthquake, fire, etc within the first ten years it's okay!...no negligence. Now if after that time, one of these events is responsible for a fatality, then that is a different issue. Duane E. Shinnick and the attorneys who fought for the homeowners aren't going to give up without a fight. Sharon Robertson Bonds, PE Salerno/Livingston Architects 363 Fifth Avenue, Third Floor San Diego, California 92101 (619) 234-7471 -----Original Message----- From: Structuralist [SMTP:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)gte.net] Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2000 8:20 PM To: SEAINT Listservice; aec-residential(--nospam--at)polhemus.cc Cc: Sandy Skipper-Lopez Subject: Bad news for homeowners, good news for builders - Is it good news for Engineers? The following news article was found on the Inman Real Estate News website at the following link: http://www.inman.com/hstory.asp?ID=22128&CatType=R Tuesday, December 05, 2000 Inman News Features California homebuilders have won an important legal victory in their fight against construction defect litigation. The state California Supreme Court ruled 5 to 2 Monday in Aas vs. William Lyon Co. that homeowners can't sue builders for negligence unless construction defects have caused economic or personal injury. Previously, homeowners could sue within 10 years of construction without having sustained economic or personal injury. Now, the time-span of lawsuits has been fixed to a home warranty, which could be one to 10 years. Builders' attorneys told the Los Angeles Times that owners can still recover defect repair costs while a warranty is in effect on a new home. Builders have claimed for years that negligence lawsuits were playing a major role in the slowdown of condo construction. "Spending millions of dollars to correct technical defects...is something of an economic waste," attorney Gregory L. Dillion, who defended the William Lyon Co., a major homebuilder, in the case, told the paper. Lyon was sued by owners in a San Diego condo and single-family housing development. The majority opinion held that lawsuits over any building code violation could be a force in higher housing costs. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote that codes regulating quake-safer walls, for instance, didn't mean that "any given defect is sufficiently grave to pose a realistic risk of structural failure." But Chief Justice Ronald M. George disagreed with some of the court's decision, and wanted the state Legislature to mandate that dangerous construction inadequacies be repaired at the builders' expense, the paper reported. "California is prone to earthquakes, and, tragically, the negligent construction of residential housing almost surely will result in the deaths and injury of numerous current and future residents of this state," he wrote. Duane E. Shinnick, an attorney for the plaintiff, believed the ruling could create a negative environment for disclosure to future buyers because reimbursement won't be possible for them. Home defects will then linger. "Under this ruling, there also is not as great an incentive for developers or contractors to build the home according to code because they can hope that no damage occurs within the first 10 years, and then they are off the hook," Shinnick, told the newspaper." Copyright 2000 Inman News Features While this is a big win for builders and developers in California, it is also a reprieve for engineers as lawsuits may not be able to be filed for discoveries of errors and omissions until the damage has been done. Although I don't know how far reaching the courts decision is, I discussed it with a friend who is a long time Expert Witness. He was in agreement with the conclusions I had drawn and felt that the wrong nail had been driven in place by the state supreme court. The bad news is that owners of homes with deficiencies, caused by lack of compliance to either the construction documents or to the building code, have no legal recourse to force builders to repair the deficiencies or to pay for remedial work that must be done to protect the home. Essentially, the owner must invest out-of-pocket for the repairs, or wait until damage occurs. In my opinion, this gives the builder an incentive to ignore efforts to promote continuing education, training and special certification for those constructing structural systems. We are not moving in a direction that will help improve the quality of construction that we admittedly have seen deteriorate over the years. Does this also provide protection for engineers and architects who decide not to comply with the provisions of the 97 UBC? Can we simply thumb our noses at the Seismology Committee and ignore all of the issues which we object because we can no longer be held responsible for any damage that does not take a life? Again, in my opinion, this is not the way to improve sick building codes! I received an e-mail from Sandy Skipper-Lopez, who is the California Chapter Director for HADD - Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings (http://distressed-homeowner.tripod.com/constructiondefects/). She wanted to remind me that California Law still requires full disclosure of the defects upon listing the home for sale. Not only will this prevent homeowners from getting the builder to correct the errors, it will reduce the homes value on the market and make it difficult for the homeowner to sell. Regards, Dennis S. Wish, PE The Structuralist Administrator for: http://www.structuralist.net AEC-Residential Listservice admin(--nospam--at)structuralist.net (208) 361-5447 E-Fax ICQ # 95561393
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