AIA/WA Lobbies Against Housing Lawsuit Bill

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing today on Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5550 to create a new avenue for lawsuits on residential construction by creating what is termed a “home warranty.” Under this warranty different parts of a residence would be warranted to be free of defects for up to 10 years (see previous posts).

Mort James, AIA, of Morton Safford James III AIA Architects in Olympia, attended the hearing to testify against the bill on behalf of the AIA Washington Council. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, he was unable to testify.

Mr. James was to testify about his extensive experience in residential construction and concerns about creating a new avenue for lawsuits, which would drive up home prices and not prevent construction defects. The AIA/WA will follow-up with committee members with written comments for the record.

The AIA/WA understands the concerns about faulty residential construction and supports the provision in ESSB550 to create a study committee to analyze the problems in residential construction.

The AIA is further concerned that ESSB 5550 does an end run around the state’s current 6-year statute of repose and 3 year statute of limitations by creating this new warranty. It explicitly creates a new 10-year statute of repose and a 6 year statute of limitations for purposes of the warranty provisions. Repose is the time in which a defect must be found. Limitations are the time after a defect is found or should have been found that a lawsuit must commence.

The AIA/WA also supports efforts to increase qualification standards for contractors and improving efforts to more closely regulate contractors. To that end, the AIA/WA is supporting Substitute House Bill 1843 improving contractor registration provisions and Engrossed Substitute SB 5788 creating a new license requirement for home inspectors.

You can listen to the hearing at www.tvw.org. Enter the bill number 5550 in the search engine and select the House Judiciary Committee hearing on March 23, 2007.