According to California law – and under the terms of the Right to Repair Act – builders have the option to manage and fix alleged defects before property owners can file a legal claim or take matters to court. Regardless of how builders approach these claims, there are a few steps that they must take to protect their business.
Builders must obtain an inspection of the defect
This is the first – and often most important – step that builders should take in these situations.
Property owners must generally allow builders to examine and document the alleged defect. The primary reasons this step is so critical is it can help builders:
- Determine the cause of the alleged defect
- Assess who could potentially be liable, if anyone
- Compare findings with their existing project records
Finding the answers in these situations is essential. After all, latent defects can develop, but an inspection of the property owner’s claim could reveal that builders are not liable for the damage at all. Therefore, builders should make sure they document the damage detailed in the claim and take pictures to add to their records.
It is important to note that it is often helpful if builders have an attorney and professional inspector present as well. They can help builders with documentation, as well as limit direct contact between the property owner and builder.
Why is this important?
In previous blog posts, we discussed the important role that expert witnesses play in construction defect cases. Certified inspectors fall into this category. Property owners will likely have an inspection of their own done. While the findings of inspections are not definitive, they can carry a lot of weight in a construction defect case.
That is why builders should obtain their own inspection. Then they can properly defend themselves – and their reputations – against these claims. It is also critical to consult experienced legal counsel in these matters, but evaluating the evidence and validity of the claim is fundamental to build a defense.