An election is coming up this month, and supporters of incumbent Senator Ray Scott (R, Dist-7 – Mesa County) need to know who they’re voting for.
Scott supports big nanny-state government interference in the construction industry, according to a bill he introduced in 2015 — a bill that advantaged shoddy homebuilders and was terrible for home buyers.
In 2015, Sen. Scott introduced a developer protection bill, SB15-091 (pdf), “Reduce Statute Of Limitations Construction Defects,” that would have protected developers from lawsuits after things go drastically wrong with the homes they build. Scott tried to cut in half the amount of time homeowners in Colorado would have to file lawsuits over construction defects, from six years to just three. The bill was to shield homebuilders from being accountable for significant problems and expenses that homeowners incur due to construction defects they discover after moving in a new home. Most states provide consumers a 10-12 year window in which to file suits over damages due to construction defects in a new home. Scott’s bill tried to make Colorado one of the states with the smallest windows for consumers to gain recourse against shoddy construction.
Many construction defects aren’t apparent until years after construction, after the home has been through several wind, rain and snow storms, and cycles of cold, heat, dryness and humidity. It takes time for these conditions to reveal problems with roofs, foundations or wall construction, like use of low quality materials or poor workmanship. Mistakes and oversights by builders or subcontractors are not only common, but are often completely unnoticeable within the first few years after construction. They can also result in extremely costly repairs for the homeowners. Under the bill Scott brought, though, homeowners would have been left holding the bag for expensive repairs to their homes needed due to shoddy construction.
In a free market, builders of quality homes don’t get sued, while developers who build shoddy homes and cut corners do get sued for selling homes riddled with defects. If left to the free market, builders of quality home would end up ruling the day while fly-by-night builders would get run out of business. At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but Ray Scott favors giving shoddy home builders a legal advantage over consumers by blocking home buyers from being able to access the courts to remedy expensive construction defects.
Advantaging shoddy home builders while screwing home buyers
Ironically, Scott brought his “developer protection bill” in a state that experienced one of the nation’s biggest landmark class-action lawsuits ever against a home developer, the 1996 Highlands Ranch case, in which 957 homeowners sued their developer for knowingly building on expansive clay soils. Heavy buckling of the floors and walls occurred in the plaintiffs’ homes years after construction was complete. Plaintiffs charged that the builder, Mission Viejo (a subsidiary of cigarette maker Philip Morris) failed to adequately disclose the fact that their homes were built on expansive clay soils, and the homes were not built to the standards needed to withstand the conditions. A jury found Mission Viejo patently negligent. The builder had tried to save money by using inferior construction techniques given the soil conditions. The presence of clay soils and subsequent damage to Highlands Ranch homes only became apparent after several years of irrigating landscaping and lawns around the houses.
It’s no wonder Scott wants to advantage Ray Scott has claimed to be a homebuilder himself but voluntarily dissolved his construction business, “Cool Water Homes,” on February 20, 2014. While the business operated, it regularly failed to file annual reports with the state. No records could be found indicating that Cool Water Homes ever actually engaged in any business activity.
Scott’s bill was anti-consumer and made it easier for construction companies to cut corners, use cheap materials and inferior workmanship and leave homeowners holding the bag for tens of thousands of dollars in repairs.
Scott truly intended to tilt the playing field to let builders get off “Scott-free.”