SAN FRANCISCO — A Hayes Valley
homeowners association will receive a settlement of $2.33 million
following a lawsuit it filed citing major construction defects.
The suit, which was filed in San
Francisco Superior Court according to a news
release, amounts to a payment amount of approximately $73,000 for
each of the 33 units in the complex that was five years old when the
complaint was initiated.
The suit named a number of failures in
the construction of the property, among them were failures to
correctly weatherproof the property that resulted in water intrusion
into the garage, faulty lobby ventilation and improper installation
These types of failures to comply with
building code aren’t all that uncommon, said Rachel Miller, senior
partner of The
Miller Law Firm, who represented the association.
“It’s common up and down the
state,” she told The Northern California Record.
“Typically, when you buy into a condo building,” Miller said,
“you only own the airspace within your unit and all of the other
components are what’s called common area, and the association or
the corporation that manages the building on your behalf has to look
into and fix those defects. So if the building is under 10 years old
in California, you can present the builder with the claims and have
their insurance company pay for that damage and repair those issues
rather than going back through yourselves as owners to pay for the
repair of those issues.”
The process involves a lot of time
both in and out of the courtroom with mediation, which can leave
consumers in a difficult position concerning the outcomes of these
cases. Of course, there are city and county building inspectors, but
Miller said that consumers can’t rely on the government entities
alone to insure that builders are following the law.
all, cities have governmental immunity; you can’t go after the
government anyway, and there is a shortage of inspectors and they
aren’t looking at every single building component, they are
checking for major systems,” she said. “It’s not something you
can rely on as a consumer; you cannot rely on the city inspectors nor
do they have any liability if they miss something.”
wasn’t able to disclose the specific property or the builders or
subcontractors who were a part of the settlement, a practice which
she said is common. These confidentiality agreements between the
association and the builders are part of what makes the waters
difficult to navigate for consumers. There are, however, some things
that consumers can do to protect themselves, and first among them is
to be informed.
For now, Miller said the homeowners association
will use the money it has recovered and hire a builder to make the
necessary repairs. In this instance, she doesn’t expect repairs to
take longer than a year to complete.
“They’ll hire a contractor and
those repairs typically don’t take more than a year on a building
of that size,” she said.
California law is supportive of
consumers and ensuring they are treated fairly, Miller said.
“It’s the biggest investment
anybody makes is to buy your home. California law is very supportive
for consumer protection,” she said.