Chapter 64.50 RCW

CONSTRUCTION DEFECT CLAIMS

Sections

64.50.005FindingIntent.
64.50.010Definitions.
64.50.020Construction defect actionNotice of claimResponseProcedure for negotiationsCommencing an action.
64.50.030List of known construction defectsRequirementsTime limits.
64.50.040Construction defect action brought by a board of directorsNotice.
64.50.050Construction professional right to offer to cure defectsNotice to homeowner.
64.50.060Interpretation of chapter regarding certain relationships and rights.


FindingIntent.

The legislature finds, declares, and determines that limited changes in the law are necessary and appropriate concerning actions claiming damages, indemnity, or contribution in connection with alleged construction defects. It is the intent of the legislature that this chapter apply to these types of civil actions while preserving adequate rights and remedies for property owners who bring and maintain such actions.



Definitions.

Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter.
(1) "Action" means any civil lawsuit or action in contract or tort for damages or indemnity brought against a construction professional to assert a claim, whether by complaint, counterclaim, or cross-claim, for damage or the loss of use of real or personal property caused by a defect in the construction of a residence or in the substantial remodel of a residence. "Action" does not include any civil action in tort alleging personal injury or wrongful death to a person or persons resulting from a construction defect.
(2) "Association" means an association, master association, or subassociation as defined and provided for in RCW 64.34.020(4), 64.34.276, 64.34.278, and 64.38.010(11).
(3) "Claimant" means a homeowner or association who asserts a claim against a construction professional concerning a defect in the construction of a residence or in the substantial remodel of a residence.
(4) "Construction professional" means an architect, builder, builder vendor, contractor, subcontractor, engineer, or inspector, including, but not limited to, a dealer as defined in RCW 64.34.020 and a declarant as defined in RCW 64.34.020, performing or furnishing the design, supervision, inspection, construction, or observation of the construction of any improvement to real property, whether operating as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, or other business entity.
(5) "Homeowner" means: (a) Any person, company, firm, partnership, corporation, or association who contracts with a construction professional for the construction, sale, or construction and sale of a residence; and (b) an "association" as defined in this section. "Homeowner" includes, but is not limited to, a subsequent purchaser of a residence from any homeowner.
(6) "Residence" means a single-family house, duplex, triplex, quadraplex, or a unit in a multiunit residential structure in which title to each individual unit is transferred to the owner under a condominium or cooperative system, and shall include common elements as defined in RCW 64.34.020 and common areas as defined in RCW 64.38.010(4).
(7) "Serve" or "service" means personal service or delivery by certified mail to the last known address of the addressee.
(8) "Substantial remodel" means a remodel of a residence, for which the total cost exceeds one-half of the assessed value of the residence for property tax purposes at the time the contract for the remodel work was made.

NOTES:

Explanatory statement2020 c 18: See note following RCW 43.79A.040.



Construction defect actionNotice of claimResponseProcedure for negotiationsCommencing an action.

(1) In every construction defect action brought against a construction professional, the claimant shall, no later than forty-five days before filing an action, serve written notice of claim on the construction professional. The notice of claim shall state that the claimant asserts a construction defect claim against the construction professional and shall describe the claim in reasonable detail sufficient to determine the general nature of the defect.
(2) Within twenty-one days after service of the notice of claim, the construction professional shall serve a written response on the claimant by registered mail or personal service. The written response shall:
(a) Propose to inspect the residence that is the subject of the claim and to complete the inspection within a specified time frame. The proposal shall include the statement that the construction professional shall, based on the inspection, offer to remedy the defect, compromise by payment, or dispute the claim;
(b) Offer to compromise and settle the claim by monetary payment without inspection. A construction professional's offer under this subsection (2)(b) to compromise and settle a homeowner's claim may include, but is not limited to, an express offer to purchase the claimant's residence that is the subject of the claim, and to pay the claimant's reasonable relocation costs; or
(c) State that the construction professional disputes the claim and will neither remedy the construction defect nor compromise and settle the claim.
(3)(a) If the construction professional disputes the claim or does not respond to the claimant's notice of claim within the time stated in subsection (2) of this section, the claimant may bring an action against the construction professional for the claim described in the notice of claim without further notice.
(b) If the claimant rejects the inspection proposal or the settlement offer made by the construction professional pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, the claimant shall serve written notice of the claimant's rejection on the construction professional. After service of the rejection, the claimant may bring an action against the construction professional for the construction defect claim described in the notice of claim. If the construction professional has not received from the claimant, within thirty days after the claimant's receipt of the construction professional's response, either an acceptance or rejection of the inspection proposal or settlement offer, then at anytime thereafter the construction professional may terminate the proposal or offer by serving written notice to the claimant, and the claimant may thereafter bring an action against the construction professional for the construction defect claim described in the notice of claim.
(4)(a) If the claimant elects to allow the construction professional to inspect in accordance with the construction professional's proposal pursuant to subsection (2)(a) of this section, the claimant shall provide the construction professional and its contractors or other agents reasonable access to the claimant's residence during normal working hours to inspect the premises and the claimed defect.
(b) Within fourteen days following completion of the inspection, the construction professional shall serve on the claimant:
(i) A written offer to remedy the construction defect at no cost to the claimant, including a report of the scope of the inspection, the findings and results of the inspection, a description of the additional construction necessary to remedy the defect described in the claim, and a timetable for the completion of such construction;
(ii) A written offer to compromise and settle the claim by monetary payment pursuant to subsection (2)(b) of this section; or
(iii) A written statement that the construction professional will not proceed further to remedy the defect.
(c) If the construction professional does not proceed further to remedy the construction defect within the agreed timetable, or if the construction professional fails to comply with the provisions of (b) of this subsection, the claimant may bring an action against the construction professional for the claim described in the notice of claim without further notice.
(d) If the claimant rejects the offer made by the construction professional pursuant to (b)(i) or (ii) of this subsection to either remedy the construction defect or to compromise and settle the claim by monetary payment, the claimant shall serve written notice of the claimant's rejection on the construction professional. After service of the rejection notice, the claimant may bring an action against the construction professional for the construction defect claim described in the notice of claim. If the construction professional has not received from the claimant, within thirty days after the claimant's receipt of the construction professional's response, either an acceptance or rejection of the offer made pursuant to (b)(i) or (ii) of this subsection, then at anytime thereafter the construction professional may terminate the offer by serving written notice to the claimant.
(5)(a) Any claimant accepting the offer of a construction professional to remedy the construction defect pursuant to subsection (4)(b)(i) of this section shall do so by serving the construction professional with a written notice of acceptance within a reasonable time period after receipt of the offer, and no later than thirty days after receipt of the offer. The claimant shall provide the construction professional and its contractors or other agents reasonable access to the claimant's residence during normal working hours to perform and complete the construction by the timetable stated in the offer.
(b) The claimant and construction professional may, by written mutual agreement, alter the extent of construction or the timetable for completion of construction stated in the offer, including, but not limited to, repair of additional defects.
(6) Any action commenced by a claimant prior to compliance with the requirements of this section shall be subject to dismissal without prejudice, and may not be recommenced until the claimant has complied with the requirements of this section.
(7) Nothing in this section may be construed to prevent a claimant from commencing an action on the construction defect claim described in the notice of claim if the construction professional fails to perform the construction agreed upon, fails to remedy the defect, or fails to perform by the timetable agreed upon pursuant to subsection (2)(a) or (5) of this section.
(8) Prior to commencing any action alleging a construction defect, or after the dismissal of any action without prejudice pursuant to subsection (6) of this section, the claimant may amend the notice of claim to include construction defects discovered after the service of the original notice of claim, and must otherwise comply with the requirements of this section for the additional claims. The service of an amended notice of claim shall relate back to the original notice of claim for purposes of tolling statutes of limitations and repose. Claims for defects discovered after the commencement or recommencement of an action may be added to such action only after providing notice to the construction professional of the defect and allowing for response under subsection (2) of this section.



List of known construction defectsRequirementsTime limits.

(1) In every action brought against a construction professional, the claimant, including a construction professional asserting a claim against another construction professional, shall file with the court and serve on the defendant a list of known construction defects in accordance with this section.
(2) The list of known construction defects shall contain a description of the construction that the claimant alleges to be defective. The list of known construction defects shall be filed with the court and served on the defendant within thirty days after the commencement of the action or within such longer period as the court in its discretion may allow.
(3) The list of known construction defects may be amended by the claimant to identify additional construction defects as they become known to the claimant.
(4) The list of known construction defects must specify, to the extent known to the claimant, the construction professional responsible for each alleged defect identified by the claimant.
(5) If a subcontractor or supplier is added as a party to an action under this section, the party making the claim against such subcontractor or supplier shall serve on the subcontractor or supplier the list of construction defects in accordance with this section within thirty days after service of the complaint against the subcontractor or supplier or within such period as the court in its discretion may allow.



Construction defect action brought by a board of directorsNotice.

(1)(a) In the event the board of directors, pursuant to RCW 64.34.304(1)(d) or 64.38.020(4), institutes an action asserting defects in the construction of two or more residences, common elements, or common areas, this section shall apply. For purposes of this section, "action" has the same meaning as set forth in RCW 64.50.010.
(b) The board of directors shall substantially comply with the provisions of this section.
(2)(a) Prior to the service of the summons and complaint on any defendant with respect to an action governed by this section, the board of directors shall mail or deliver written notice of the commencement or anticipated commencement of such action to each homeowner at the last known address described in the association's records.
(b) The notice required by (a) of this subsection shall state a general description of the following:
(i) The nature of the action and the relief sought; and
(ii) The expenses and fees that the board of directors anticipates will be incurred in prosecuting the action.
(3) Nothing in this section may be construed to:
(a) Require the disclosure in the notice or the disclosure to a unit owner of attorney-client communications or other privileged communications;
(b) Permit the notice to serve as a basis for any person to assert the waiver of any applicable privilege or right of confidentiality resulting from, or to claim immunity in connection with, the disclosure of information in the notice; or
(c) Limit or impair the authority of the board of directors to contract for legal services, or limit or impair the ability to enforce such a contract for legal services.



Construction professional right to offer to cure defectsNotice to homeowner.

(1) The construction professional shall provide notice to each homeowner upon entering into a contract for sale, construction, or substantial remodel of a residence, of the construction professional's right to offer to cure construction defects before a homeowner may commence litigation against the construction professional. Such notice shall be conspicuous and may be included as part of the underlying contract signed by the homeowner. In the sale of a condominium unit, the requirement for delivery of such notice shall be deemed satisfied if contained in a public offering statement delivered in accordance with chapter 64.34 RCW.
(2) The notice required by this subsection shall be in substantially the following form:
CHAPTER 64.50 RCW CONTAINS IMPORTANT REQUIREMENTS YOU MUST FOLLOW BEFORE YOU MAY FILE A LAWSUIT FOR DEFECTIVE CONSTRUCTION AGAINST THE SELLER OR BUILDER OF YOUR HOME. FORTY-FIVE DAYS BEFORE YOU FILE YOUR LAWSUIT, YOU MUST DELIVER TO THE SELLER OR BUILDER A WRITTEN NOTICE OF ANY CONSTRUCTION CONDITIONS YOU ALLEGE ARE DEFECTIVE AND PROVIDE YOUR SELLER OR BUILDER THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE AN OFFER TO REPAIR OR PAY FOR THE DEFECTS. YOU ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO ACCEPT ANY OFFER MADE BY THE BUILDER OR SELLER. THERE ARE STRICT DEADLINES AND PROCEDURES UNDER STATE LAW, AND FAILURE TO FOLLOW THEM MAY AFFECT YOUR ABILITY TO FILE A LAWSUIT.
(3) This chapter shall not preclude or bar any action if notice is not given to the homeowner as required by this section.



Interpretation of chapter regarding certain relationships and rights.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to hinder or otherwise affect the employment, agency, or contractual relationship between and among homeowners and construction professionals during the process of construction or remodeling and does not preclude the termination of those relationships as allowed under current law. Nothing in this chapter shall negate or otherwise restrict a construction professional's right to access or inspection provided by law, covenant, easement, or contract.