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Washington State: Legislators attempt to regulate homebuilding
Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Bill protects homeowners from shoddy builders 
 If an auto mechanic damages your car or a tree service cuts down the wrong tree, you can sue for negligence. But buy a defective house in Washington state and you might not be able to take the builder to court. But some state lawmakers think that's wrong, and hope to change that. This is the lawmakers' second attempt to give you more protection if you buy a home that's not up to code or has substantial defects. Last year, two democrats almost got a bill passed to require new homes to come with a warranty, but the building industry got it shot down.

 Bill protects homeowners from shoddy builders      
  Bill protects homeowners from shoddy builders 
Jan 14, 2008
By Herb Weisbaum
If an auto mechanic damages your car or a tree service cuts down the wrong tree, you can sue for negligence. But buy a defective house in Washington state and you might not be able to take the builder to court.

But some state lawmakers think that's wrong, and hope to change that.

This is the lawmakers' second attempt to give you more protection if you buy a home that's not up to code or has substantial defects.

Last year, two democrats almost got a bill passed to require new homes to come with a warranty, but the building industry got it shot down.

But this legislative session, Brian Weinstein, D-Mercer Island, and Brendan Williams, D-Olympia, are back with a bill that, if passed, would make it easier to sue home builders when the work is not done properly.

It may sound crazy, but it's true. Because of a state Supreme Court ruling from many years ago, you cannot sue a contractor simply for negligent construction. You have no hope of winning.

That means if they don't build the house to code or if they do shoddy work, you don't automatically have the case.

The bill introduced on Monday is just two sentences long and would do just one thing -- give you the right to sue a builder or contractor if they do negligent work and it damages your house.

"We're saying that a builder or contractor has a duty of reasonable care when they do work on someone's home," Weinstein said. "If they violate that duty of reasonable care, then the home buyer has the right to sue them for damages."

The construction industry is already opposed to the proposed law. A spokesman for the General Council of Building Industry Association of Washington says the law would not give consumers any additional protection. Timothy Harris says it would instead put small builders out of business and drive up the cost of buying a home.

"This is just giving a new way for lawyers to sue builders. We saw something similar happen in Nevada. What it did was, it drove the mom and pops, the small builders out of business," he said.

Supporters of the bill call that a scare tactic. They say Oregon has a similar law on the books, and that law didn't have any negative impact on the housing market.

They say it's a question of fairness. All other businesses are held responsible if they do damage because of negligence, and they believe contractors should play by the same set of rules.

For More Information:

Send your opinion to your legislator

The legislative hotline: (800) 562-6000

http://www.komotv.com/news/13783037.html
 
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