Question: Last year we purchased a new home in north Scottsdale. Every time that we get any measurable rain, parts of the stucco on our home loosen and fall. The homebuilder’s contractor has tried unsuccessfully several times to correct the stucco problem. Do we have any rights against the homebuilder? Is there a time period?
Answer: First, you can file a complaint with the Registrar of Contractors (“ROC”). You have two years from the completion of the home to file this complaint which costs you nothing. After you file the complaint, the ROC will send an inspector to inspect your home. If there is a construction defect with the stucco, the inspector will order correction of this construction defect within a certain time period. If the stucco defect is not eventually corrected, there will be an ROC hearing, and the homebuilder may eventually lose its contractor’s license to build homes. The ROC, however, cannot award you any monetary damages for the amount of money to correct the stucco defect.
Second, you can also file under A.R.S. §12-1363 a written notice of claim with the homebuilder. The homebuilder then has the right to inspect your home, and state what the homebuilder intends to do to correct the stucco defect. The homebuilder must be given the opportunity by you to correct any stucco defect. If the stucco defect is not corrected, most homebuilder contracts require the buyer to submit the dispute with the homebuilder to arbitration, rather than file a lawsuit against the homebuilder. The time and expense for a buyer to get a construction defect corrected, either voluntarily by the homebuilder or after an arbitration ruling against the homebuilder, can be significant.
Note: If the homebuilder has given the buyer an express one-year or two-year warranty, the buyer still has an implied warranty of proper construction. A buyer has at least eight years after substantial completion of the home to file a claim against the homebuilder for breach of the implied warranty of proper construction, A.R.S §12-552.