California Home Construction Defect Laws

If you own a home in California and discover a construction defect, bringing a lawsuit against the responsible party may require more than filing a complaint if your home was built in 2003 or later.

California Senate Bill 800

The California Legislature passed Senate Bill (SB) 800 in late 2002 in an attempt to curb construction defect litigation between builders, homeowners, and the insurance industry. SB 800 allows the home buyer to sue for latent defects (those that don’t cause personal injury or property damage) if he complies with certain pre-litigation procedures that allows the builder the opportunity to repair the construction defects beforehand. However, the law only applies to homes built after January 1, 2003.

Determining if This Law is Beneficial

The jury is still out on that question. Proponents of the law say that it relieves the tension and probable litigation between all the parties involved in the home buying process by giving the builder the chance to make things right instead of being hit with a lawsuit that will cost time and money to defend. Critics of the law say the law doesn’t go far enough. They believe that all homeowners, regardless of when a home was built, should be able to take advantage of the law – especially because California has a 10-year statute of limitations for latent home defects. So, a home can be relatively new, but not be covered under the law.

Ten-Year Statute of Limitations

California law states that all homeowners have 10 years to file a lawsuit for latent defects against a home builder/developer. However, that 10-year period may actually be shorter if you discover the defect and don’t do anything about it. Other statutes of limitation may kick in instead. It all depends upon what type of defect exists. So, while the 10-year period is the absolute limit, it is best to speak to a qualified attorney as soon as you discover the defect to make sure that you protect your potential claim.