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California Construction Disputes: Home Buyers and Builders
When property development is involved, contractors, subcontractors, and homeowners should all understand how to protect their rights. Liens and warranties are popular methods utilized.
In the context of construction, most liens are known as "Mechanics Liens." These documents place a financial (security) interest on the title to the real property for work or materials. A contractor has a right to satisfaction of their lien before the property can be sold.
California is currently one of many states overhauling their mechanic's liens statutes. In 2011, California's lien laws will require contractors and subcontractors give written notice to a homeowner before filing a lien.
Once the lien is filed, the contractor is then required to bring a lawsuit to enforce his or her claim. California law (Civil Code § 3144) requires that they file the lawsuit within 90 days of the lien, otherwise it becomes invalid.
A home may be the most expensive item a buyer purchases. However, it may have less warranty coverage than a car. Many homebuilders or remodelers supply a one or two year warranty on their projects. These are known as contractual warranties. If a home is new construction, it may also have longer implied warranties.
Implied Warranty of Merchantability
The state of California has an Implied Warranty of Merchantability that applies to residential homes. These warranties are "implied" and therefore do not have to be expressed orally or in writing to be guaranteed.
This warranty essentially states that the home is merchantable or that basic features of the home, such as the foundation, electrical wiring, and HVAC, have been constructed properly.
However, builders may "disclaim" the implied warranty of merchantability by offering a warranty of their own. This would then leave a homebuyer with only contractual remedies.
California Construction Defects Attorney
The laws and legal recourse available to homeowners, contractors and subcontractors is complex. It's important to consult with an experienced California construction litigation lawyerer regarding development disputes.