SACRAMENTO-The California State Assembly approved a major revision of the construction defects law this week. The new legislation, Senate Bill 800, requires homeowners to allow developers to try to fix any construction problems before they can sue.

For two years, developers and insurance companies have been negotiating for a revision in the current construction defect law, saying that lawyers often solicit homeowners associations to sue developers before the 10-year statute of limitations expires. Developers say that this has caused a decline of nearly 85% in condominiums and townhouses built in the last decade. Insurers also have become reluctant to insure condominium projects or have raised their rates to cover the higher risk.

Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, one of the bill’s authors, says the new law will provide California with its first set of uniform residential building standards and impose a procedure that a homeowner must follow before bringing suit against a builder by laying out a process for dealing with defects. The bill also further defines what a defect is and gives homeowners the right to sue the initial owners of the building and any subsequent owners in the 10-year window.

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