CONSUMER PROTECTION AND THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS
These days, new home buyers can look forward to settling down into houses and condominiums with features that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. From high quality materials to advanced construction techniques, today’s homes are built to last. They’re built for busy families to enjoy. So, when those rare problems arise, the last things homeowners want are hassles.
The Brown County Home Builders Association proudly supported a new consumer protection law, Right to Repair, signed by Governor Doyle on March 27, 2006. Wisconsin is the 28th state to adopt this commonsense, bipartisan-supported legislation for resolving construction disputes. This is an alternative dispute resolution law that establishes a process, prior to time-consuming and costly litigation, by which homeowners can seek remedy to construction defects.
The Right to Repair Law went into effect on October 1, 2006. At that time, builders will provide an informational brochure, supplied by the State of Wisconsin, to all customers before entering into a contract to construct or remodel a residence. If the builder fails to provide the brochure, the builder will lose any rights and protections under the Right to Repair Law, and the homeowner will not have to provide the builder notice of a defect and the opportunity to repair.
If the brochure is provided, a homeowner must provide written notice to the builder detailing the construction or remodeling defect, and the builder must be given the opportunity to repair it. If a homeowner doesn’t provide written notice and an opportunity to repair but instead has the defect repaired by a third party, the builder is no longer liable for the defect.
After receiving written notice of a possible construction defect, the builder is required to respond to the claim in writing and indicate if the company will repair the defect, pay the claim or deny the claim. If the homeowner doesn’t accept the builder’s offer, a reply must be made in writing and include the reasons for the rejection. The builder has another opportunity to make an offer, in hopes a compromise can be reached. If the builder rejects the claim and will not remedy or settle or does not respond to the homeowner’s notice, the homeowner may bring an action against the builder without further notice.
In other states where similar legislation is law, the majority of claims are settled after the first notice to the builder. According to a national study by NERA Economic Consulting of White Plains, NY, litigation ensures neither a timely resolution to disputes nor compensation sufficient for homeowners to make needed repairs. Where Right to Repair is law, the number of construction defect lawsuits has dropped dramatically.
Members of The Brown County Home Builders Association understand that building a home or condominium represents one of the largest financial transactions most families ever undertake. BCHBA believes home buyers deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing there’s a way to resolve construction issues, and Right to Repair creates a fair path for both homeowners and builders to follow.