Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Washington needs a Homeowner's Bill of Rights: Testimony on SB 6385

Early this morning I traveled down in Olympia to testify before the Senate Consumer Protecting & Housing Committee about SB 6385, a crucial first step in securing a Homeowner's Bill of Rights for Washington State. I spoke after two homeowners who related their awful experiences with the committee, and was moved by their stories. The following is the text of my prepared testimony.

Chairman Weinstein and Members of the Committee:

Good morning. For the record, my name is Rick Hegdahl. I’m the Outreach & Advocacy Director for the Northwest Progressive Institute, a regional netroots strategy center working to advance the common good through ideas and action. I also run a home remodel and repair business in Bellevue, Washington, where I live – Viking Construction – so I have firsthand experience with this issue.

I’m pleased to be here today to voice NPI’s support for SB 6385.

Last year, our online coverage of the Homeowner’s Bill of Rights sparked tremendous interest from concerned Washingtonians who spoke strongly in favor of the legislation and shared their own troubling stories with us. It’s astonishing how few recourses are available to residents who discover deficiencies with their home, such as defective workmanship or moisture buildup that leads to toxic mold.

Washington is sadly one of the few states that doesn’t recognize a common law cause of action for negligent construction, which means that losses cannot be recovered unless a building contract specifically guarantees non-defective performance. Because such a protection is infrequently provided voluntarily, homeowners are left hanging when something goes wrong with their most important investment and asset. They are unable to seek the justice they deserve.

Families can lose their life’s savings. Parents can lose the ability to finance their children’s college education.

Hardworking Washingtonians can lose their health and prosperity.

They don’t even have the option of going to court. And that’s wrong.

Senate Bill 6385 is a simple and essential first step to provide homeowners with the basic safeguards they deserve under the law. Allowing irresponsible builders to escape accountability for faulty construction is unfair and unjust.

There should be an incentive for the entire industry to be committed to constructing quality homes, not just the reputable firms that already go out of their way to treat customers squarely.

The Legislature has a duty to ensure that every Washingtonian has the freedom to pursue a fulfilling life. Our state’s residents cannot be truly free if they have no way of seeking compensation when their homes begin to fall apart.

We strongly urge members of the committee to support this legislation and refer it to the full Senate for consideration.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.


Blogger Brian said...

I appreciated your testimony. we passed SB 6385 out of committee on Friday. Please contact as many members of the Senate as you can to urge their support. When it passes the Senate, please get involved at the House of Representitve level.

Senator Brian Weinstein.
360 786-7641

January 27, 2008 5:10 PM  

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