Construction defect attorney Denver – building codes

Posted by: Aug 13, 2013By Brian Stutheit

In this blog, we discuss how building  codes and building inspectors fit into a Colorado construction defect claim.

Generally, a building inspector is not liable for injuries or damages for failing to detect code violations.  When the government creates a public safety law, it is entitled to specify whether it can be sued for failing to follow the law.  A city or county would has no duty to inspect a building, unless it adopts building code.  When cities and counties adopt building codes , they almost never provide that they may be sued for inspection errors.  If they were to be liable, they would no doubt stop doing inspections altogether.

Although a government agency or building inspector cannot be sued for failures to catch code violations, they may be designated as responsible non-parties by contractors, architects or engineers who are themselves getting sued for construction defects.  A construction defect defendant is only liable for the percentage of harm that the court or jury apportions to that defendant.  Harm caused by a responsible non-party such as a building inspector reduces the defendant’s percentage of liability.

Colorado law bans negligence claims where the building code might not have been followed, but no actual damages have resulted.  In other words, technical violations of codes are not actionable.  However, professional expert witnesses in construction or engineering make a good living by offering opinions that code violations impair the integrity of a building, whether or not any damage is apparent.

Building codes may be cited in lawsuits as evidence of the minimum standard of care which every construction professional should follow.