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Tidland Corporate Center sold for $3.3 million

Tidland Corporate Center sold for $3.3 million

Tidland Corporate Center, a 64,000-square-foot industrial building and 6.03-acre...

Introducing the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014

Introducing the Accomplished & Under 40 Class of 2014

The Vancouver Business Journal is pleased to announce the Accomplished and Under...

East county bridge proposal causes contention within freight industry

East county bridge proposal causes contention within freight industry

After $200 million taxpayer dollars were spent on the botched Columbia River Cro...

Angels bringing ideas to light

Angels bringing ideas to light

Most new businesses come to being with a great idea. How to get that great idea ...

Vancouver-based children’s apparel brand sold to Utah investor

Vancouver-based children’s apparel brand sold to Utah investor

Oakiwear, a children’s apparel brand headquartered in Vancouver, has been sold t...

Creatives converging on Washougal

Creatives converging on Washougal

It’s hard to say exactly when it started, but the city of Washougal has quietly ...

Banking & Money Management

Angels bringing ideas to light

Angels bringing ideas to light

Most new businesses come to being with a great idea. How to get that great idea from concept to marketplace reality is often what separates them.

Entrepreneurs can come into business with substantial investment and savings of their own, enjoy a low overhead-quick return scenario or be completely reliant on financial help.

“When you are in a position where you get to decide if you wish to seek ou...

Education & Workforce Development

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

WSU Vancouver: Enhancing the business community for 25 years

25 years ago, Washington State University opened its Vancouver branch on the Clark College campus. From the very beginning, the university has been closely tied to Clark County’s business community, and those partnerships have grown even stronger over the last quarter-century.

WSU-Vancouver Chancellor Emile “Mel” Netzhammer joined the campus in July 2012, and has glowing praise for the relationsh...

News Briefs

From the List: Private Schools (2014)

What are the largest private schools in Clark County? We ranked them by total number of students enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year.

Spotlight

Dynamic Events finds success in service & technology solutions

Dynamic Events finds success in service & technology solutions

When you attend a conference or a large corporate event, you might assume that the registration process will be smooth, dinner will be served on time, and the speakers’ presentations will work flawlessly. But Allison Magyar, president of Dynamic Events, doesn’t take any of these details for granted.

“We provide complete meeting and event management and software, plus registration services and gra...

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

Now is the time for apprenticeships

Now is the time for apprenticeships

There is much talk of the “skills gap” – the widening space between the technical skills that employers need and the ski...

Towne Square project is a win for the local workforce

Towne Square project is a win for the local workforce

Our economy continues in fits and starts to recover. Workers struggle to find employment providing a living wage. Famili...

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