Vancouver Business Journal

Sun04202014

Last update04:01:42 PM

Font Size

Cpanel
Trust, Park Service fail to reach agreement on Pearson Air Museum

Trust, Park Service fail to reach agreement on Pearson Air Museum

Several months after having entered into formal mediation talks to discuss issue...

Riverview Community Bank celebrates regulatory decision

Riverview Community Bank celebrates regulatory decision

Officials at Riverview Community Bank are moving forward with confidence knowing...

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

If commercial developers feel like circus performers walking a tightrope, there ...

 Business Growth Award finalists announced

Business Growth Award finalists announced

14 businesses have been named finalists for the Vancouver Business Journal's 201...

Is Food Processing part of Port “Comprehensive Scheme”?

Is Food Processing part of Port “Comprehensive Scheme”?

The leaders of a Clark County food processing company will bring their efforts t...

Developers cautious but developing

Developers cautious but developing

Although the Great Recession is behind us, many businesses and individuals are s...

Design & Construction

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

Commercial development: Building for tomorrow

If commercial developers feel like circus performers walking a tightrope, there is good reason.

Limited financing, escalating regulatory and raw material costs, and still-low property valuations make penciling out a project difficult. And yet, workforce trends and emerging technologies demand designs that look to the future.

Build to the budget

According to Ron Frederiksen, president of RSV Bui...

Innovation & Manufacturing

Southwest Washington keeps its focus on manufacturing

Southwest Washington keeps its focus on manufacturing

Southwest Washington boasts a number of regional factors that are beneficial to the local economy. Among them are access to clean water, affordable power and a skilled workforce. These factors have continued to drive the local manufacturing industry in 2014 – an industry that was one of the first to convincingly move forward out of the recession.

“Advanced manufacturing aligns with both our Orego...

News Briefs

CREDC seeks health care startups to participate in “Shark Tank”

The Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC) is accepting applications from startups related to the health care sector interested in participating in Clark County PubTalk’s annual business pitch competition on Tuesday, June 17.

Spotlight

Audio Fox: A sound solution

Audio Fox: A sound solution

Like a lot of small businesses, Vancouver-based Sound Product Solutions started with a problem. Several years into retirement, Rex Clark was experiencing hearing loss – and he wasn’t the only one affected by that change.

“We had some disagreements, me and my wife, about where the volume should be on the TV,” said Rex. He remembered similar struggles between his own parents, but the best solution ...

The business of construction continues to see change

The business of construction continues to experience change. There are a number of new legal cases related to construction defects and contractor liability that are important to pay attention to as 2007 comes to a close.

The business of construction continues to experience change. There are a number of new legal cases related to construction defects and contractor liability that are important to pay attention to as 2007 comes to a close.

Expansion of the Economic Loss Rule

One of the most significant new developments with regard to contractor liability is the expansion of the “economic loss rule.” This long-standing rule essentially prevents property owners from asserting a negligence claim against the contractor for defective construction. In a recent case, Alejandre v. Bull, the Washington Supreme Court made clear that the homeowner cannot assert a negligence claim for economic damages if there are construction defects. The court declined to recognize any cause of action for negligent construction because there was no evidence of personal or physical injury.

While the economic loss rule bars a homebuyer from making a negligent construction claim against the builder, the buyer may still be covered under the “implied warranty of habitability.” As the name suggests, this means that the seller or builder must present the home to the buyer in a “habitable” condition. However, the warranty is of limited scope and only covers defects that are serious enough to impact the safety or practical livability of the home. Mere defects in workmanship are generally not covered because the warranty does not impose an obligation upon a builder to construct a “perfect” home. Defects giving rise to these types of claims can include water intrusion and other major structural defects.

Abolishment of completion and acceptance doctrine

Contractors have always been liable for physical injury to the property owner caused by negligent construction. However, the “completion and acceptance doctrine” protected contractors from liability for injury to persons other than the buyer (third parties) caused by defective workmanship, so long as the work was “completed” in compliance with plans and specifications and “accepted” by the buyer after inspection. After inspection, the risk of liability was passed to the owner, since the owner controlled the property.

All of this changed in 2007. In Davis v. Baugh Industrial Contractors Inc., the Washington Supreme Court discarded this concept calling it outmoded, incorrect and harmful. The Court ruled that contractors – not property owners – will be liable if defective construction harms third-parties. In short, the contractors are now liable for any physical harm to any person resulting from their construction defects.

Expansion of timeframe for filing suit on construction defect claims

Another significant change occurred in late 2006 when the Washington Supreme Court decided the 1000 Virginia Limited Partnership v. Vertecs suit. The Court decided that the “discovery rule” applies in determining the timeframe in which a homeowner must bring a lawsuit for construction defect claims. In so doing, the Court differentiated between a breach of contract dispute and a construction defect claim. An action for breach of a written construction contract must be brought within six years of the breach. However, if the dispute is based on defective construction, the discovery rule applies. Under this rule, the buyer gets six years after the completion of construction to discover the defect, and then they have an additional six years after discovery to bring the claim. This means that a claim for defective construction could be brought up to 12 years after completion of construction.

With so much activity in the courts, contractors should take care to keep themselves informed of this ever-changing legal landscape within the building industry. There are many classes and newsletters available to help with this endeavor, including offerings from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and the Building Industry Association of Clark County (BIA).

Kelly Walsh is an attorney for Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 360-905-1432.

Opinion

Focus Column

Innovating innovation

Innovating innovation

If you want to attract innovation, you need to be innovative. The Clark County Economic Development plan, which guides t...

You can thrive without reinventing the wheel

You can thrive without reinventing the wheel

Every day the media bombards us with headlines of doomsday for American manufacturers. We read how competition is stiff,...

Special Editions

Top Projects and Building Excellence Awards

Print Edition

JA Teline IV

Inside Track

JA Teline IV

Lists

Avatar

North Bank Magazine

JA Teline IV