California law imposes deadline for when an owner can sue a developer or contractor for construction defects or design defects. For residential properties, these deadlines stem from a law passed by the legislator in 2003, and known as SB 800. This law sets forth different deadlines, that range from one year to as long as ten years. Normally, the outside deadline for filing a lawsuit against a residential developer is ten years from the date of completion.
What happens if an owner discovers a defect within this ten year period? A shorter deadline for filing a lawsuit may apply. If an owner is deemed to have "discovered" a defect, the deadline is shortened to three of four years. What constitutes "discovery" can be a hotly debated topic in construction cases. The general guideline is if a "reasonable person" observes a condition that would lead that person to conclude that a defect is present, the statute starts to run. For example, if you observe that your roof is leaking into your bedroom, a "reasonable person" would likely conclude that a problem exists relating to the construction of the roof. If so, the deadline for a lawsuit may be limited to three or four years from when you observed the roof leaking, not the ten years from the date of completion.
Determining what legal rights an owner has, and when they commence to run can be a complicated process. We specialize in construction cases, and would be happy to consult with you to help you determine what they best course of action is. Feel free to call us at 619-752-1102.