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 X)

Welcome to the tenth and final 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: 1 Hour, 23 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 conclude our countdown with the story of a beleaguered West Olympia neighborhood.
The sad story of the one hundred and forty home Cooper Crest subdivision in West Olympia is enough in itself to highlight the need for a Homeowners’ Bill of Rights.

Homebuilding increasingly occurs in areas formerly deemed unsuitable for dwellings. In this steep-sloped neighborhood, this water retention pond overflowed – causing the evacuation of one home. Foundations are overrun with water.

Cooper Crest Backyard
Because this neighborhood is steep-sloped, backyards are slip-sliding away. Tarps, stakes, and sandbags do not make very attractive play areas for kids. Because, as often happens in new construction, the soil is sterile (not topsoil), it may never grow grass and is impermeable.

Water runs off the tarps and goes into the forest below. Water runs under houses. Water penetration problems are common these days.

Cooper Crest Street Sign Askew
This street sign is not the only thing that is askew in the Cooper Crest subdivision and in new subdivisions across the state where homeowners lack recourse against negligent builders. And builder-supplied “warranties” are generally meaningless contracts of adhesion.
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

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