Rain: Some love it, some hate it. For those living in a homeowners’ association or managing one, you should appreciate the rain because it often provides an opportunity to learn more about the condition of the buildings. Rain allows homeowners and community managers to discover potential entry points for water and to take action to prevent leaks and damage to common area and separate interests.

If your home is less than 10 years old, or you manage an association that is less than 10 years old, keep an eye out for active leaks, dampness or moisture inside the homes, or signs of water intrusion near windows, doors, and roof, especially during or immediately after any rains. Also, be on the lookout for water stains on ceilings and walls as those may reflect possible signs of past water intrusion. Regardless of warranties offered by the builder, if a development is less than 10 years old, the association may still be able to recover money for construction defects from the builder.

Under California law, strict time limits apply to associations and homeowners wishing to bring such claims to the attention of the builder. Once these time limits expire, a builder has no liability for construction defects under California law, even if a home is seriously damaged or suffers from a reduction in value due to the defects. Therefore, homeowners and community managers should be aware of the following deadlines:

  • One year for manufactured products (windows, roofs, doors, plumbing products and fixtures, HVAC units, countertops, cabinets, paint, appliances and any other product completely manufactured off site.) [Civil Code §896(g)(3)(D)]
  • One year for noise transmission [Civil Code §896(g)(6)]
  • One year for irrigation and drainage systems [Civil Code §896(g)(7)]
  • Two years for decay of untreated wood posts [Civil Code §896(g)(8)] and landscaping systems [Civil Code §896(g)(12)]
  • Four years for:
    • Plumbing and sewer systems [Civil Code §896(e)]
    • Cracks in exterior pathways, driveways, sidewalls, landscape, sidewalks and patios [Civil Code §896(g)(1)]
    • Unreasonable corrosion of untreated steel fences and adjacent components [Civil Code §896(g)(9)]
  • Five years for deterioration of building surfaces due to insufficient paint or stain [Civil Code §896(g)(10)]
  • Ten years for all other claims [Civil Code §941]

The respective “starting dates” for these timelines all vary and can be interpreted in many ways, so associations should always seek assistance from legal counsel when determining the applicable deadlines for construction-related claims against the builder. An attorney can also help evaluate whether the association or individual homeowners have legal standing to bring a claim.

Angius & Terry LLP, with over three decades of experience in representing HOAs and homeowners against builders in construction defect cases, can provide a comprehensive analysis of the statutes of limitations that would apply to a development. While the rain is helpful in bringing obvious building issues to your attention, there is no substitute for a thorough investigation by the association’s legal counsel and construction experts.

For more information on how Angius & Terry can help your association address these important issues before it is too late, please contact us today.