The rise in Colorado’s population curve during the past decade has led to a surge in construction activities to accommodate the adding numbers. The growing statistics place increasing demands on housing, education, healthcare, recreation, etc. These call for a construction boom to keep up with the growing population throughout the state. With more and more buildings carving out their Colorado footprint, the demand often exceeds the supply – and construction defects naturally fill those gaps. This is where the Colorado construction defect laws and limitations step in. They were initially launched to control the corresponding rise in construction lawsuits in the wake of new activities. Construction defects and unhappy homeowners were two main causes for seeking litigation. The defect laws aimed to resolve valid issues as well as protect construction experts from unfounded and outdated accusations.
The Construction Defect Action Reform Act or CDARA is one such law. It was established in 2001 and redefined down the years to regulate Colorado’s construction defects. CDARA keeps a keen eye on defect lawsuits and ensures the rights of both property owners as well as construction professionals. This article takes a look at some of the objectives of CDARA and how it has shaped the construction defect problem in Colorado over the years.
Elements of Colorado construction defect law
Application of CDARA
Construction projects are all based on contracts signed between you as a homeowner and various construction professionals. These may include your contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers, interior designers, project managers, vendors, inspectors, etc. If any damages or injuries occur due to construction defects, the CDARA law applies to these construction professionals. You can claim for the damages and losses incurred because of any improvements made to your property. The CDARA defines you as the claimant who asserts claims against any of the construction professionals listed above for the relevant defect. Your context could be a residential or a commercial one, and the stakeholders will add on depending on the scope. At its inception, the law encompassed every single expert who had a hand in “any improvement to real property”. This gave you the right to make a claim against those who were present at the time of the construction, since they were responsible for the resulting defect.
The Notice of Claim
A Notice of Claim is a document that informs the involved parties regarding the construction claim you are about to file. The CDARA has its own threshold requirements for its Notice of Claim to be effective. As a claimant in this lawsuit, you need to meet these timing thresholds before asserting a claim against your construction professionals. This requires you to send a written notice to their known addresses with detailed descriptions of the defect claim. You have to clearly state the defective construction and its location as well as any damages you incurred due to that defect.
You also need to ensure that the Notice of Claim is issued to the construction professionals within 75 days before you file an action for residential cases – and within 90 days for commercial cases. Once the recipients are informed, they will request access to your property to make the necessary inspections against the alleged defect. This inspection stage typically lasts 30 days for residential defects and 45 days for commercial defects according to CDARA’s threshold. A construction professional can then offer you a payment to cover the damage or provide services to resolve your claimed defect.
This is conducted as a written statement that mentions the outcome of the inspection, its scope, the required remedial construction work, and its corresponding timeframe. The official resolution addresses the extent of all the damages incurred by your property as a result of the construction defect. It allows you to make a valid claim for your Colorado property and receive maximum coverage as a homeowner. Once this offer to settle is issued, you have 15 days to confirm via written acceptance – after which the offer will be rejected. In this way, the CDARA uses pre-litigation chances through its Notice of Claim to help you and the involved parties reach a mutual agreement. It gives the construction experts a chance to get notified, inspect the damages, and make settlement offers. Receiving a legal representation in Colorado construction defect law allows professionals in the industry to bounce back from allegations transparently and credibly.
Limitation on Negligence Claims
A Negligence Claim can be filed against parties whose construction negligence may have contributed to your damages. However, if the construction project failed to comply with various building codes and standards, this limits your chances to seek compensation. The CDARA places restrictions on lawsuits that involve buildings constructed without proper standards. You cannot claim for negligence based on violations of building codes unless the violation results in some kind of physical or residential harm. Such negligence on the experts’ part makes you eligible to file a successful claim if the defect causes injuries, puts the occupants at risk, threatens their safety, or makes the property unsafe to be used. This stays valid despite non-compliance issues, as dangers to life and health raise enough red flags to investigate the defect. It is also a loud reminder to work with qualified experts who keep in touch with updated local codes while making improvements to your property.
Statute of Limitations
The Colorado construction defect law has a statute of limitations on the claims you make. This determines the maximum duration available to you and the construction people after which a legal action can officially begin. For example, you can only file a claim against the construction professionals within 2 years of the cause of action. If the defect occurs in any improvement made to your property, you are allowed to open a lawsuit within 6 years of the project completion. Regarding the issue of a Notice of Claim, if it is sent out within the stated time for filing an action, then the statute of limitations can get legally suspended for 60 days.
Defective workmanship makes both real and personal property vulnerable to damages. It is also the leading cause of concern in accelerated projects that are simply rushed forward out of supply issues – as observed during Colorado’s peak population years. All statutes of limitation enforce timeliness in the way you handle a construction defect. They streamline your construction calendar and help you receive the necessary action for a valid complaint. You have a specific time period within which you must file the suit.
The CDARA holds a construction professional responsible for only the actual defect-driven damages incurred by your property. If you can prove core violations like a breach of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act, then you have a chance at a bigger compensation than the actual damages create. Furthermore, a construction professional who fails to “substantially comply” with the offer automatically becomes liable to treble damages. This happens when the contractor, engineer, or architect does not remedy the defect as agreed legally, making you entitled to claiming thrice the actual damage.
Colorado construction defect lawsuits are continually on the mend. The construction boom throughout the state has been mirrored by an increase in defect cases. This creates certain overlaps and grey areas that add to the complexity of construction defect laws. The CDARA aims to bridge these gaps as much as possible so that homeowners can occupy their spaces peacefully – and construction experts can redeem themselves. Alternatively, the CDARA laws address and eliminate invalid claims against professionals. It is important to enlist the help of a good attorney who specializes in Colorado construction defect cases to give you the legal coverage your case deserves.
The ticking clock
Construction defects take the shape of various flaws that may or may not grow into a domino effect later on. The general two-year window opened by the CDARA laws gives you time to report any damage that requires attention. If you really want that stitch in time to save life and property, then you must remember that the two-year clock starts ticking from the moment you spot the defect.
Different state laws put such timing details under the judicial microscope to determine the validity or expiry of your opened case. Your two-year time limit typically begins once the defect manifests in your property – not when you realize that it has become dangerous enough for a legal action. Regardless of the nature of the warning symptom, it always helps to call the experts for timely analysis. You might encounter leaking roofs, malfunctioning HVACs, and drainage problems as part of the seasonal defects in Colorado. There can be structural and engineering flaws, mold accumulation, or a sagging roof adding to your list of concerns. The problem is that most of these construction defects make an appearance after you start living in and using your new construction building. Minor defects like wall cracks often stay at the back of your mind – until you realize that the wall might collapse anytime.
Delays and uncertainties like these create ambiguous defect cases in Colorado’s courts. By the time you decide that there is a problem, it is too late to determine whether it occurred due to construction or your own activities. So, before you sign up for any construction in Colorado, make sure to know your legal rights as a property owner. Keep an eye out for apparent flaws that could sabotage your investment later on. Your first walkthrough is a good place to begin and really scrutinize the design and construction elements. It gives you the official ground to go beyond the surface value of your improved property, settle things before moving in, and avert the need for construction litigations down the road.