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Opinion Columns

Opinion: Colorado home owners need more time to respond to defective construction

My first home, a historic Cap Hill condo, made for great memories, but was also a ton of work.

In 2015, when I purchased my current townhome by Sloan’s Lake, I opted for new construction and was looking forward to reduced maintenance headaches, plus it would have a dishwasher!

A few years after purchase, in the middle of a rainy night, I noticed a leak above my bedroom door and immediately contacted the contractor and the all-too-common foot-dragging response began.

Daniel Gonzales

When a second leak appeared, I got the contractor to come take a look — their response, also quite common, was to “caulk and walk.”

In other words, to try making some superficial “fixes” to placate me and then hopefully walk away without addressing the deeper fundamental problems.     

I was not surprised, but disappointed when the next storm brought more leaks into my new home, so I reached out to my neighbors and found six in 12 of the units in our development reported active leaks and many others had experienced “caulk and walks” from the builder. 

I brought in independent professionals to advise on the leaks, and since our development was structured without an HOA, I also had to organize and educate the other owners about their leaks before we could take action and hire an attorney. 

This would be a daunting process for many homeowners, but here’s the catch, I’m an architect and had the expertise, energy, and willpower to make it happen.   

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Not all communities are going to have an architect driving owners to organize and take action — our development was fortunate, we took action inside Colorado’s six-year statute of repose.

But thinking back we (and others) very easily might not have made it for a variety of reasons:

  • Six years isn’t enough when multi-year droughts can hide leaky roofs and when expansive soils in the Front Range can take years to crack improperly designed or constructed foundations.
  • Six years isn’t enough when new small developments are being structured without an HOA, and owners must first organize before mobilizing and hiring an attorney.
  • Six years isn’t enough when builders are performing superficial fixes to placate homeowners and run out the clock, without addressing more critical failures present in the weatherproofing of roofs and walls.

Among the states, Colorado has one of the shortest windows for homeowners to find a defect and formally notify their builder.

Only four states have shorter statute of repose timeframes: Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Virginia. Senate Bill-138 would bring Colorado into alignment with other “business friendly” states like Wyoming and Texas.

It would extend needed protection to homeowners like myself when the unthinkable arises, without imposing an unnecessary burden on the business of architects, developers and contractors. 

Colorado homeowners like me, deserve the safe, well-built homes they thought they were buying – I urge our elected officials to pass SB-138 to ensure homeowners are able to get the repairs they deserve.  

Daniel Gonzales is a homeowner and architect in Denver.

Rising Sun