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, March 6, 2008

SB 6385 would provide reasonable and fair protection for homeowners

With less than thirty six hours to go before the bill cutoff deadline in the House of Representatives, more traditional media outlets are starting to weigh in on the Homeowner's Bill of Rights, urging Speaker Chopp to bring it to a vote.

First, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, from a week ago:

A similar bill died in the House last year (much to the delight of the Building Industry Association of Washington, which spent big bucks lobbying against the bill) because Democratic House Speaker Frank Chopp felt that it didn't clarify the issue of liability insurance for builders.

Well, the new bill makes it clear that contractors won't need liability insurance (as some claim is the case). The latest version gets rid of the negligence clause via an amendment proposed by Rep. Pat Lantz, focusing instead on nonwaivable warranties -- not the flimsy one-year ones contractors often offer home buyers. If a contractor does the job properly, or fixes something that goes wrong, there is no cause. But if the contractor does not resolve the issue, the homeowner will be able to seek compensation.


It's bizarre that so many homeowners have been left out in the cold for so long. This bill can right the situation.
The Seattle Times joined in this morning:
Homebuilders don't like the bill. That is natural. No one likes to worry about being sued. Critics further note that Weinstein is a trial attorney, and grumble about his motives. But his bill imposes a liability that is reasonable, and that accords with standards elsewhere in American business. A house — or, these days, a town house — is the biggest investment most buyers have ever made. If they buy in summer, and discover in winter that the siding isn't any good, the builder should have to bear the cost of repairs. There are no treble damages or punitive damages or anything like that.

Simply, they have to fix the defect. We expect this when we buy a car, or a water heater, and the manufacturers of those products have learned to live with a liablilty. Good builders should be able to adjust to this law without difficulty.
Also chiming in today with a great editorial is The Olympian:
Homebuilders should stand behind the quality of their workmanship.

State lawmakers have put forth a bill that would give home buyers some recourse if they find out they are victims of shoddy workmanship.

Senate Bill 6385, as amended by the House, is the right approach. It gives home buyers in the state the same protection enjoyed by those individuals who purchase condominiums. Lawmakers should pass SB 6385 and send it to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature into law.


Good contractors have nothing to fear with the legislation before the 2008 Legislature. Building contractors doing quality work won’t have damages to repair in the first place. And they won’t get sued. Surely purchasers of single-family homes deserve the same protection from shoddy workmanship as condo buyers.

Home buyers deserve more protection than they have today, and that’s why the Legislature must act.
Finally, KOMO News ran a story last night alerting its viewers that the Homeowner's Bill of Rights is stuck in the House of Representatives.

It also explained that Speaker Frank Chopp is the one man with the power to move the bill to the floor (and he wouldn't comment for their story). The story showed footage from homeowners who have been left without recourse because of the Legislature's failure to address this issue in the past.

Readers, your representatives need to hear from you if the Homeowner's Bill of Rights is to get to the floor. Call the legislative hotline at 1-800-562-6000 and ask to be connected to your lawmakers. Or, find your representative using the legislative directory and send an e-mail.


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