Construction Law Experts
Construction Attorneys Serving All Of Colorado
Brian Stutheit A Top Construction Lawyer – Denver Magazine
Our broad construction law background allows us to represent homeowners, home buyers and sellers, commercial property owners, contractors, subcontractors, architects and engineers.
Experienced Construction Attorneys
For approximately 20 years, Brian Stutheit has provided legal guidance and strong representation regarding:
- Arbitration and mediation.
- Contracts and contract issues – We write and review contracts for new construction or repairs. We represent contractors, construction trades, and engineers contracting to do work. We resolve delay or non-performance claims, warranty matters, indemnity demands and subrogation claims. Representation in disputes over work scope and quality, construction delays, indemnification, payment for labor and materials, and insurance coverage. We focus on resolving disputes through the least expensive means possible. We are not afraid to litigate if a fair settlement cannot be reached.
- Construction defects for homeowners - We have actually litigated issues of defective construction, including water leaks at windows, foundation movement, roofing failures, plumbing, hvac design and performance, walls cracking, concrete flatwork problems, stucco, deck failure, and exterior drainage and grade. We know the construction experts to prove your case. We are your experts in the law.
- Collections for construction professionals.
- Construction and design professional defense – We represent contractors, tradesmen, architects and engineers in lawsuits alleging construction defects, negligence and professional liability.
- Insurance and construction - Helping owners to obtain fair compensation for property damage from such things as hail, snow, sewer line backups, roof collapse, water and fire. We protect contractors and engineers whose liability insurance carriers deny defense to a claim.
- Mechanic’s liens – We preserve lien rights and handle lien litigation to assure that contractors and materialmen are paid. We help property owners fight improper and spurious liens. If you own a home and the contractor failed to pay his subcontractors, we can protect you.
- Permits – We represent contractors and owners having difficulty with building departments and planning agencies.
- Seller fraud, building inspector negligence and failure to disclose defects such as mold, roof leaks, basement cracks, foundation movement, sewer line problems, and other hidden defects. See our blog about home inspectors before you buy a house.
- Trespass – flooding, construction debris, fence and boundary encroachments, nuisances.
CONSTRUCTION DEFECT STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS and STATUTE OF REPOSE
A Colorado statute says that all actions for damages for any deficiency in design, planning, construction, or supervision of construction must be commenced within two years from when the claimant discovers or should have discovered the “physical manifestations of a defect.” The statute leaves a lot of uncertainty. What is a physical manifestation of a defect? When should a physical manifestation have been discovered? It is not necessary to know what construction error caused the property damage in order for the statute of limitations to begin to run.
In addition to the two year limitations period, Colorado imposes an absolute bar on bringing a lawsuit six years after substantial completion of construction. If the defect is first known or should have been first known during the fifth of sixth year after substantial completion, the period of repose continues for two years from when the defect is known. So, it is possible that the statute of repose will allow a lawsuit within eight years after construction.
There are many other statutes of limitation which can apply to a construction defect claim. Contracts often shorten the time to sue. Claims for deceptive practices or fraud allow for a different statute of limitations. Colorado has a mandatory notice of claim process that must be completed before a property owner may commence a lawsuit against a “construction professional.” This is the Construction Defect Action Reform Act, commonly known as CDARA. If an owner sends a notice of claim under CDARA, it tolls or delays the running of the statute of limitations and repose.
The statute of limitations makes or breaks many a case. The law is complicated. If you think there could be litigation, you should consult an experienced construction attorney right away.
If you want attorney fees in the event of a dispute, provide for fees in your written agreement. Without a written provision for attorney fees, you will be unlikely to recover them. The fee provision may provide for fees only to the contractor, and not also to the owner.
Do not buy a new home until you understand the nature of the warranty. For example, does the warranty allow the builder to make whatever repairs it decides are necessary, even though you think more should be done? Do not agree to a contractor’s limited warranty which makes it the exclusive remedy if there is defective work.
Be certain your homeowner insurance covers you for code or ordinance required upgrades.
ROOFING? Before you sign that contract, click on the Stutheit & Gartland blog tab for a summary of a 2012 statute which specifies what must be in a residential roofing contract.
REALTORS and the law:
Sources of law governing realtor behavior include the licensing statute, section 12-61-101 and following sections of the Colorado Revised Statutes. (C.R.S.). Sections 12-61-801 and following are important because they define broker and client relationships and duties. It is crucial that you as a buyer or seller understand who the broker represents, because a real estate broker who does not represent you will claim no duty to uncover or disclose property information which affects you.
The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the National Association of Realtors says realtors shall avoid exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts, but they are not obligated to discover “latent” defects in the property. Latent defects are those not easily visible. Realtors are not to undertake to provide services outside their field of competence. We think a realtor selling homes in a neighborhood known to have swelling soils should know something about those soils, and practices to discover or protect against damages from swelling soils.
Perhaps the most important source of law is the contract between the realtor and her client, and the contract for the transaction. You must read and understand the documents. If the documents or something about the property causes you concern, put your questions in writing or email.
Realtors are sometimes sued for negligence. Negligence is a failure to do an act which a reasonable realtor would do, or the doing of an act which a reasonably careful realtor would not do, under the same or similar circumstances. Expert testimony is essential to establish realtor negligence in court.
See the Stutheit & Gartland blog:
Contingent Fees – posted September 10, 2012
Correspondence Regarding A Roofing Job – posted October 10, 2012
Home Inspectors – posted October 31, 2012
Trial Success – posted January 3, 2013
Residential Roofing Contracts – posted April 1, 2013
Mechanics lien cannot exceed contract price – posted April 24, 2013