Right to Repair Act
Construction Defects & Construction Law Attorneys in California
Right to Repair Act Summary
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California’s Right to Repair Act (“Act”) is a law that was enacted on January 1, 2003, and only applies to construction defect claims in new residential units sold on or after January 1, 2003. The Act establishes a mandatory non-adversarial inspection and repair procedure that allows builders and homeowners to attempt to resolve construction defect claims in advance of or in avoidance of litigation. This Act is the sole remedy for construction defect claims for economic loss and property damages in new residential construction purchased after January 1, 2003 and does not apply to commercial and industrial developments. Other claims, such as breach of contract, fall outside of the Act. However, if a homeowner’s complaint alleges deficiencies in construction that constitute violations of the standards set out in the Act, then claims are subject to the non-adversarial inspection and repair procedures.
The Act covers homeowner claims for construction defects that violate specific standards enumerated in the law. Broadly, the standards cover:
- Water leak issues
- Foundation issues
- Structural issues
- Soil issues
- Fire protection issues
- Plumbing and sewer issues
- Electrical system issues
- Certain “other areas of construction” concerning certain outdoor cracking, installation of particular manufactured products, heating, air conditioning, attached structures, irrigation, untreated wood posts and steel fences, paint and stains, roofing, landscaping, and tile and dryer ducts
- Certain building components, such as cabinets and paint finishes, are subject to a one-year “fit and finish” warranty.
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Procedurally, the Act requires a homeowner to first serve the builder with notice of a construction defect claim and also allows the homeowner to serve a request for certain documents and requires the builder to produce those documents within a specified time. These procedures must be exhausted prior to the filing of a claim. A homeowner initiates the process by first submitting a written request to Builder’s designated agent. If a homeowner does not file a written claim with Builder in advance of filing a petition, the Act provides for a legal bar to the action and a court would have no authority to hear the case. As a result, the case would be dismissed, although it could be re-opened at a later time, after proper completion of the procedures set forth by the Act. If the builder has not strictly adhered to the process, or if the repairs are not adequate, a homeowner may then initiate legal proceedings.
The major benefit to builders under this Act is the absolute right to repair any alleged construction defects with homes prior to litigation, assuming that the builder complies with certain preliminary requirements and the statutory right to repair procedures. One of the principal benefits to homeowners of new construction under the Act is that their burden of proof at trial concerning the construction defects is eased tremendously. The Act sets forth a list of standards for residential construction and the homeowner only needs to prove that the home builder did not meet one or more of the standards in order to establish a construction defect and liability. This relieves the homeowner from having to establish the often costly burden of proof that the builder breached relevant standards of care for construction. Furthermore, the Act provides not only the original owners but also their successors-in- with certain rights and protections as set forth under the Act.
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