The role of class action lawsuits in construction is a bit misunderstood. Class action lawsuits are not used for claims by building Owners against Contractors or Developers for hidden construction defects.
Instead, Owners use “collective” actions in hidden construction defect claims. Often, the only financially viable way to pursue a Contractor or Developer for hidden construction defects is by joining forces with the other Owners of the same development. This allows the parties to share the costs of litigation, the largest cost being the experts necessary to determine the nature and extent of the hidden construction defects. The parties then share the proceeds to jointly hire a competent Building Envelope Architect and Remediation Contractor to redo the building right.
These are not technically class action lawsuits, although the result is similar. In a lawsuit against a Contractor or Developer, the Owners are either named as individual Plaintiffs or, if the group has an Association, the Association is named as the Plaintiff. This is different than a formal class action, where one Plaintiff is named, but represents a class of unknown people who have been effected in a substantially similar way.
Class actions in construction are viable when dealing with a product failure of a specific product. The LP siding class action is a well-known example, although there are hundreds of examples. In a class action, the defendant is primarily the manufacturer, not the Contractor.
If you have a specific product failure where the product was installed per the manufacturer’s requirements and still did not perform, you may have the ingredients of a class action.
Bungay Law is currently investigating a class action against a roofing product manufacturer. Certain types of ridge vents allow water to breach the roofing surface and damage the roof sheathing underneath. These ridge vents also have a fabric on the inside the restricts the airflow, resulting in mold growth in the attic. If you have been notified by a professional that you have significant mold growth in your attic, contact Bungay Law to discuss being included in the class action.
The amount of a time that an Owner has to file a lawsuit varies with the type of claim. The recent Washington Supreme Court decision of Tadych v. Noble Ridge Construction established that the contractor’s attempt to limit the claims period to one year was not enforceable. The Court decided that the six-year period in RCW 4.16.310 applied instead. However, a shorter, three-year period typically applies to implied warranty of habitability claims, which starts to run when the Owner knew or should have known about the problems. Implied warranty of habitability claims are important because they bring in building requirements that the Contractor likely avoided promising to comply with in the contract.
Owners are encouraged to investigate their new construction homes early to determine the absence of presence of hidden construction defects. If your home, likely your largest asset, suffers from hidden construction defects, it is better to know before your rights against the Contractor expire. Otherwise, you will be stuck with the whole five or six figure repair bill.
Contact Bungay Construction Defect Law today (206) 769-0093. Our experienced Construction Defect Law Attorney is available for a Free Consultation.