DENVER – The third in a series of bills aimed at resolving Colorado’s construction defects litigation issues was killed Wednesday night in a House committee on a 6-3 party line vote.
House Bill 1169, which would have required homeowners give “unfettered access” to contractors that opt to conduct repairs on faulty construction, was seen as an attack on owners’ rights.
Jonathan Harris, president of Build Our Homes Right, said his organization opposed the bill because it took away homeowners’ ability to reject repairs that they felt were inadequate and fell short of resolving the reason for the increased number of lawsuits.
“This bill doesn’t address the problem of substandard and defective construction, which created the large number of legal claims,” Harris said.
“To me, the real question is ‘why is the building industry unwilling to stand behind their product?’”
The bill would have required contractors to submit a report on the scope of the repairs and would have allowed them to settle with homeowners rather than pursuing restoration, all of which they can do under current statute.
Bill sponsor Rep. Tim Leonard, R-Evergreen, said he understood homeowners’ frustrations, but he saw the bill differently.
“It just gives the right for both parties to be able to talk to one another, and that’s what’s missing,” Leonard said.
But current law allows for contractors to have such dialogs with homeowners without requiring them to do repairs.
Leonard added this is the first “right to repair” bill introduced in Colorado, and attorneys who have worked with him say this “must be part of the answer.”
“It isn’t the answer, but If you’re going to have this pie it’s got to be an ingredient,” Leonard said.
Democrats on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, the so called “kill committee,” did not agree, however, and they killed the bill.
Despite the vote, Leonard said it was important to get everyone to discuss the problem facing Colorado’s affordable-housing market.
“The problem is recognized, and the problem is that basically young people and young families are finding it nearly impossible to buy their first home, and this is a phenomenon that everybody recognizes and everybody also recognizes it’s because (of) the economics,” Leonard said.
The drop in condo construction is attributed to the rise in insurance rates stemming from the lawsuit risks.
Many local jurisdictions have passed ordinances to try and remedy the issue, including Durango, with little effect.
Experts say there must be a statewide rule to bring certainty to the market.
But any such statewide solution will have to wait until another day.