Nevada construction defect bills dead, but new plan expected

Three Assembly construction defects measures were left on the legislative scrap heap Friday as a deadline for committee action hit. But elements of the proposals could surface in a new plan.

AB373, AB446 and AB449 didn't come up for a vote in Assembly Judiciary by Friday's deadline for committee action. That killed the specific bills -- but they could be revived in later amendments.

Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, said he wasn't convinced any of the three bills were in strong enough form for passage, and there wasn't time to fix the flaws.

AB373 would have placed strict time restrictions on when homeowners could sue builders and contractors over defects, sometimes as short as one year. Trial layers argued the time frames were too short and cut into people's rights to due process by the courts.

The insurance industry supported the bill, saying it would provide predicability when setting insurance rates for home builders.

AB449 would have required builders to disclose any construction defect suits against them, and AB446 would have mandated that home builders can't write into sale contracts requirements for binding or nonbinding arbitration to settle defect claims.

While the bills didn't pass, Anderson said Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, said he could craft another bill that would incorporate some of the provisions.

"We're not going to approve a construction defects bill that is not good for the homeowners," Anderson said.

Anderson also said the measure shouldn't be special-interest dominated. Any bill that's approved will include the opportunity for builders to repair a home before having to face a lawsuit, he added.

Construction defect bills fared much better in the Senate, with three proposals remaining alive either in bill form or amendments after the committee deadline passed.

Approved Friday was SB371, which establishes a commission through which all construction defect claims would be processed. Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, said the bill does what homeowners want -- get their homes fixed.

Under the bill, homeowners would have to notify builders of any defects at least twice. If the builders don't adequately fix the problems, the homeowner would be able to go to the commission. The commission would require the builders to fix all identified problems, and the proceedings would be at no cost to the owners.

Also approved was SB241, which would require homeowners with crooked doors and windows or other problems to issue a formal complaint to a builder. The homeowner could only file a lawsuit if the builder didn't fix the problem within five months or didn't respond to the complaint within three months.

The definition of construction defects also would be modified. It would block claims against contractors for "normal" wear and tear, settling or other deterioration.

Another bill, SB273, would give builders the opportunity to attend any time a professional inspection took place on one of their properties. That provision was incorporated into SB371.


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