Bipartisan construction defects bill introduced, aiming to curb legal action, spur affordable housing

A bipartisan quartet of lawmakers Tuesday officially kicked off the next round in a years-long quarrel over how to deal with Colorado’s construction defects litigation statutes, a move that could possibly initiate the capstone undertaking of the 2015 legislative session.

After several similar bills failed in past years, Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, and Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, joined together in a bipartisan, albeit still contentious effort, and introduced Senate Bill 177, along with House co-sponsors Reps. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, and Jonathan Singer, D-Loveland.

The bill aims to spur growth of affordable, multifamily housing by curbing legal action. Much of this litigation is initiated when a homeowner discovers deficiencies in design or construction that may have resulted from negligence or poor workmanship on the builder’s part. Proponents argue that a flood of lawsuits due to Colorado’s overly unbalanced, pro-consumer stance in this matter has caused builders and developers consternation, scaring them away from investing in new housing projects that would otherwise have been affordable for middle-class families.

As a result, homebuilders claim they are forced to hand down skyrocketing insurance costs, which protect them against these sometimes excessive legal actions, to aspiring homeowners. First-time homebuyers and seniors, who may be looking to downsize from larger single-family homes, are included in that mix.

Some critics point out the bill is not the way to go about increasing affordable housing, saying the introduced legislation would deal a hefty blow to a homeowner’s right to obtain a legal resolution to shoddy construction and would do little to turn the tide on the housing market problem.

But the Scheffel/Ulibarri proposal argues that so-called Alternative Dispute Resolution through a mediator might well be a less time-consuming and cheaper way to deal with construction defects while still carrying enough legal weight to provide homeowners with solid protections.

Additionally, for homeowner associations, the bill requires a majority vote of all homeowners within an association before any such organization can move forward with legal action.

At a news conference at the Yale RTD Light Rail station following the bill’s introduction Tuesday, Ulibarri called the proposal a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to build affordable housing” and a direct answer to a shortage in supply of condos and townhomes. This language reflected his Republican co-sponsor’s sentiment.

“We know that there are people trying to get into these products, but they are simply not available,” Scheffel said. “The current law has a defect, and we are going to do something about that.”

 Read the full story in the next edition of the Colorado Statesman

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment

Signup for Email Updates