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I have built a house and sold it in California. It has been…

Customer Question
I have built a...

I have built a house and sold it in California. It has been 2 years and now the house has developed a leak. The homeowner has hired a lawyer and is arguing that I am not subject to SB800 (right to repair law) as I am not a builder. My questions:

Lawyer's Assistant: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

Am I a builder? Do I want to be classified a builder to be subject to the right to repair law as I do want to repair it ?Am I right that if I am not a builder, I am sued on negligence and the attorney for the homeowner gets attorney's fees whereas if I am a builder, attorney's fee do not get awarded.

Lawyer's Assistant: Has any paperwork been filed?

California

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I am looking for an expert in construction defect litigation

Submitted: 5 months ago.Category: CA Real Estate
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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
I am looking for someone who specialized in constructions defect litigation in CA, i.e. familiarity with right to repair law, negligence by the developer, etc.
Answered in 32 minutes by:
11/21/2017
Lawyer: socrateaser, Attorney replied 5 months ago
socrateaser
socrateaser, Attorney
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 39,756
Experience: Attorney and Real Estate Broker
Verified

Hello,

You're not a "builder" under SB 800 (Civil Code Section 895 et seq.). Section 911(a) provides the definition of a "builder" for purposes of the Act:

  • For purposes of this title, except as provided in subdivision (b), “builder” means any entity or individual, including, but not limited to a builder, developer, general contractor, contractor, or original seller, who, at the time of sale, was also in the business of selling residential units to the public for the property that is the subject of the homeowner’s claim or was in the business of building, developing, or constructing residential units for public purchase for the property that is the subject of the homeowner’s claim.

From what you describe, you weren't in the business of selling or building residential units for public purchase.

As for your wanting to be classified as a builder, the purpose of SB 800 is to permit claimants to sue for construction defects that have not yet caused any damage. Since, the claimant apparently is claiming a leak, there is already damage to the property, which generally renders SB 800 inapplicable to your circumstances.

With respect to attorney's fees, they are based upon your sales contract, not upon SB 800 -- unless: (1) you are a builder, and (2) you fail to follow the per-litigation negotiation provisions of SB 800 (Civil Code Section 930(b)).

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, Justanswer retains your entire payment, and I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf. Note: If you cannot find the rating button on your webpage, please just type in your rating in a response to this note, and customer service will apply the rating for you.

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
First, I an a real estate broker and I have been building and remodeling homes for sale for the last 20 years. When we sold this house, ironically, it was the buyer's agent who insisted signing the SB800 paperwork and asking for SB800 warranty instead of one I wanted to provide. We have extensive documents Right now, I am developing 10 unit condo project in our city, this one started two years ago at the time of the sale. Here is the addendum we signed at closing. As to the leak, it is a leak but there is no real damage yet. All I am trying to do is to get the homowner to allow me to repair it.
Lawyer: socrateaser, Attorney replied 5 months ago

Okay, so you're a "builder" under the Act.

There are procedures set forth in Civil Code Sections 910-938, to obtain permission to inspect and then make a written offer to repair the property. Basically, you have the option to make an offer to repair, and to provide an alternative list of contractors to the claimant. If the claimant agrees, then you make the repair and you're done. If the claimant disagrees, you have to offer a mediation option. If you can't reach an agreement, then the claimant can sue.

If the claimant fails to follow the procedures, then you can stay any later lawsuit until the claimant complies with the required procedures.

As an alternative to all of the above, you can simply make an offer in compromise to pay $X in exchange for a general release from further liability.

If you review Sections 910-938, it pretty much provides step-by-step instructions. Naturally, the claimant's lawyer wants to make this as complicated and costly as possible. All you can do is to follow the rules, and tell the lawyer to stop playing games.

Note: Since you're not a lawyer, you can contact the claimant directly, and there's nothing that the lawyer can do to stop you. That could reduce the lawyer's fee demands, since he won't be doing any billable work, if you're talking to the claimant.

I hope I've answered your question. Please let me know if you require further clarification. And, please provide a positive feedback rating for my answer (click 3, 4 or 5 stars) -- otherwise, Justanswer retains your entire payment, and I receive nothing for my efforts in your behalf. Note: If you cannot find the rating button on your webpage, please just type in your rating in a response to this note, and customer service will apply the rating for you.

Thanks again for using Justanswer!

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Lawyer: socrateaser, Attorney replied 5 months ago

Would you like a flowchart of the steps involved in satisfying the law?

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Customer reply replied 5 months ago
Customer I am also an attorney and I very familiar with the SB 800 process, thanks, ***** ***** to expand on that My questions is whether the paper you see signed at closing I sent you plus a pending residential real estate project of 10 condos qualify me as a builder?
Can they still try to sue me on negligence, i.e. attorney's fee for the opposite counsel, or will SB800 procedure be their remedy? The damage now is a 3 inch puddle of water on the floor, no other damage there.
Last, as to attorney's compensation of the other side. My feel is that the guy is on contingency basis for now as he keeps arguing that SB 800 does not apply. he does not want me to fix the leak as, in my understanding, if we go SB800 route, he is not getting attorneys fees as negligence cause of action is out the window. So, once we switch to SB800 process, the lawyer's will, most likely ask his client for a retainer. Am I correct?
Lawyer: socrateaser, Attorney replied 5 months ago

I will reopen this Q&A session for someone else to assist.

Thanks for using Justanswer!

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