Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Why we need a Homeowner's Bill of Rights: Stories from Washingtonians (Part VII)

Welcome to the seventh installment in our special series counting down the hours remaining until Friday evening's 5 PM bill cutoff deadline, when this year's Homeowner's Bill of Rights legislation will expire unless voted on by the state House of Representatives. Each post in this series features stories from homeowners who have been victimized by negligent construction.

These are stories of Evergreen State families who have, through no fault of their own, lost their life’s savings, their health, their ability to finance their children’s college education, and their prosperity because there was a defect or problem with the workmanship of their home.

Countdown Clock: 13 Hours, 12 Minutes Remaining Until Cutoff

Senate Bill 6385, if enacted, would give the same rights that condo owners already enjoy to homeowners. It provides families with a recourse if their most valuable investment is damaged by contractor negligence. Under current law, homeowners get stuck with the bill for shoddy workmanship. There is no warranty, no protections in place to help those who have been victimized.

We urge you to join us in calling on House Speaker Frank Chopp to bring SB 6385 to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. If SB 6385 gets to the floor it is sure to pass - and Governor Chris Gregoire is ready to sign it.

But it has to make it out of the Rules Committee first.

We continue our countdown with Lin's story.
We have a home built by Chaffey Homes in 1998. Recently, we noted leakage of rainwater from the chimney to the fireplace, and into the living room, causing significant damage. An inspection uncovered multiple construction defects in the construction of the chimney as well as in the installation of the siding of the house. According to the inspector's report, some of these defects are a blatant deviation from the industry standard.

When we approached the builder, the builder told us that any repairs were our responsibility, as the warranty on the house has expired. Due to the 6-year statute of limitation, it does not appear that we have a legal claim against the builder, even if there is clear and documented evidence of violations of building codes.

What upsets me most is that the builder has known these construction defects for some time from other homes they built, but failed to alert or disclose them to other homeowners. Several houses built by the same builder in the same neighborhood had exactly the same construction defects and these owners apparently had discussed with the builder in the past. To borrow a term from my medical professionm, I believe that a builder should have the "duty to warn." When a physician diagnoses a genetic disorder or communicable condition, he or she has the duty to warn, for example, the patient's family. It is my belief that homebuilders should be held to the same standard.

I trust that you have the courage to stand up to the big builders, and help innocent homeowners and home buyers. I believe that you will do the right thing for all homeowners in the state to pass laws that require builders to comply with building codes, to act honestly when they know of problems that may damage or destroy houses.
Here's how to get in touch with Speaker Chopp:

District Office:
444 NE Ravenna Blvd, Suite 106
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 729-3223

Olympia Office:
339C Legislative Bldg.
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7920

Toll-free Hotline: 1-800-562-6000
TTY (hearing impaired): 1-800-635-9993
Email: chopp.frank (at) leg.wa.gov

Comments:

Blogger Burned Thrice said...

Construction defects have long plagued the Building Industry whose answer to these devastating problems has been to lobby for greater protection for contractors and builders, less accountability, while reducing consumers ability to recover any damages as a result of the builders' negligence.

This is battle that occurs everyday in every state, even in other countries. But it comes down to our so called elected officials whose real allegiance is to these special interests groups who shamelessly lobby the legislatures - knowing that greed lingers in those great halls - and use it to advance their agendas that are completely self-serving.

As to us constituents, the homewners? Frankly, we've been hosed. Politicians want our vote but fail to provide us with what we need to be safe, to be protected and to have the necessary recourse available that is as equitable as the builders and contractors are afforded.

Imagine that! America - equality for all!

March 11, 2008 11:30 AM  

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