After having defended innumerable construction defect lawsuits on behalf of developers, general contractors, and other construction professionals, I find myself wondering more and more often about what happens to homeowners, in particular, those in multi-family developments governed by homeowners associations, after the construction defect case settles and all of the attorneys have gone home.
While sitting in the back of my local tobacconist’s store last week enjoying a cigar, I spent about an hour speaking with a friend of mine, and a fellow attorney, that happens to own a home in a development that had been the subject of a construction defect lawsuit, which settled more than four years ago now. What made this conversation most interesting to me, other than the general nature of the topic, was that I had been involved in the lawsuit, representing the developer. My friend relayed to me his frustrations with the overall resolution of the matter and, specifically, the way in which the homeowners association dealt with the settlement and repairs. When asked what repairs had been done with the settlement proceeds, my friend received absolutely no response. He did know, however, that no repairs had been made to his home, despite the fact that there were allegations of construction defects in his home, which were made a part of a global resolution. When he pressed for an answer, the homeowners association, presumably through its property management company, showed my friend into a conference room which held over fifty binders of information and expert reports and he was told to find his own answers. To make matters worse, the exterior my friend’s home actually suffered damage at the hands of the repair contractor, probably as it made repairs to the common areas outside. When he asked whether they would come back to repair his home, he was asked whether he had any photos taken of the location of damage to show that it wasn’t already there. When my friend said that he had no such photographs, he was informed that no repairs would be made.
I understand that this is one isolated situation, but the way that I learned about it was so coincidental that I cannot believe that it is an anomalous situation. This brings me back to my question: What happens to the homeowners when all of the attorneys leave and the dust settles?
If you have been involved in a post-settlement repair process, for better or worse, I would like to hear your stories. Please send me an e-mail at email@example.com and let me know the good, the bad, and the ugly.