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Monday, January 14, 2008

Clever Idea of the Day from Olympia: Screw the BIAW

posted by on January 14 at 15:28 PM

For the last couple of days, I’ve been Slogging updates on Senator Brian Weinstein’s (D-41, Mercer Island) effort to pass his house-buyer protection bill.

The bill seems pretty righteous in its own right (f’d over consumers currently don’t have the right to sue builders and contractors in our state). But making it a bit controversial, the bill seems like a personal attack on the Speaker of the House, Frank Chopp (D-43), who killed the bill in the house last year. Senator Weinstein contended that Chopp was doing the bidding of the powerful BIAW, the builders lobby.

So, here’s a fun solution so that we actually get action on this. Someone should run this consumer bill of rights as a ballot measure this fall instead.

I know, I know: The legislature shouldn’t pass the buck to voters. It should do its job and just pass Senator Weinstein’s bill.

But just as last year’s insurance-claim ballot measure, R-67, forced the insurance industry to lay out millions in an unsuccessful effort to kill consumer rights, taking the house-buyer bill to the ballot would similarly screw the right wing BIAW, which is already committed to bankrolling Rossi.

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Why do I get the feeling Eyman won't be the one doing that ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 14, 2008 3:38 PM

i like it i like it...

Posted by kinkos | January 14, 2008 3:58 PM

i would add a provision that the homeowner gives up the right to sue anyone if they are 90 days past due on their mortgage.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 14, 2008 4:23 PM

I'd like to hear an explanation, preferrably from Senator Weinstein but I'll settle from you Josh since you're regurgitating his talking points, explaining how it is that consumers can't sue builders. SENATOR WEINSTEIN HIMSELF SUED HIS BUILDER, AND THEY SETTLED.

It is an outright LIE to say builders can't be sued. Homeowners have a number of options for suing their builder...they can sue their builder for breach of contract (failure to perform in a workmanlike manner), they can sue under the consumer protection act, they can sue under product liability, they can sue under the implied warranty of habitability (deviation from fundamental aspects of the building code), they can sue under any available third party warranties, or they can follow what is known as the "cure" procedure, which gives the builder an opportunity to fix a problem before a suit is filed.

So there you have it, SIX different ways a home buyer can sue their builder. I wonder which one Weinstein used to sue his?

Posted by TValleyGirl | January 14, 2008 4:58 PM

TValleyGirl sounds an awful lot like an astroturf troll.

Is the Republican party in this state a wholly owned subsidiary of the BIAW? Sheesh.

Posted by George | January 14, 2008 5:10 PM

Of course, sloggers' kneejerk modus operandi is to try and discredit anyone who dares to espouse a viewpoint that differs from the slog party line.

Yet I notice there is no response to my post exposing the lie being perpetuated by Weinstein and Feit. Those pesky facts can be a real inconvenience, much easier to try to attack and discredit the poster.

Posted by TValleyGirl | January 14, 2008 5:23 PM


josh seems to have a different sort of ethics, and that's going easy. there's countless times where he'll ignore comment question or stock up some weird counter alibi of a post to follow later. but it's obvious he cares LITTLE about what WE THE CONSUMERS OF SLOG think. just as long as you keep coming back to read his cute opinion. going hard, i leave it that, he's a weasly cunt.

Posted by gr nmklsk | January 14, 2008 5:34 PM

TValleyGirl: why so hostile? Geez, you give less than 30 minutes before bitching that Josh hasn't responded to your questions.

If you look at the analysis of last year's bill, you'll see some answers to your questions. Reasons why the implied warranty of habitability may not apply. This bill basically makes a statutory implied warranty of habitability.

Posted by Gidge | January 14, 2008 5:54 PM


Of course, YOU would.

And look out @8, facts just make the trolls angry.

But, while we're at it:

It's true SOME new home purchasers CAN sue the builder for shoddy workmanship, assuming of course the "warranty" they signed hasn't already exempted the specific defect from liability, which is fairly common.

In addition, many warranties offered in WA are executed through a company called Residential Warranty Co. (RWC) out of Harrisburgh, PA, which is notorious for placing all sorts of limitations in their warranties. A few examples: all unresolved warranty issues must be resolved through mandatory, binding arbitration, paid for by the purchaser before the matter is presented to the arbitration service; thus, no legal ability to file a lawsuit against the builder for breach of warranty. In addition, if your builder defaults on their warranty obligations, the purchaser must pay a fee of anywhere between $250 and $500 before the warranty administrator will process any complaint; consequential or incidental damages aren't covered. So, if your roof caves in while you're out of town, the warranty only covers repairs to the structure; you get nothing for any damage to goods or property caused by the failure itself. And that doesn't even begin to cover the long list of "exceptions" that the builder isn't liable for after the first two years - of a supposedly 10 year "warranty".

A recent survey of the local housing market conducted by Criterion Engineers, one of the nation's leading housing inspection companies indicated a whopping 17% of all new homes built in WA in 2006 had some sort of major structural defect, including roof problems, inadequate framing, and faulty foundations among others.

Really, who needs some dumb old "Homebuyers' Bill of Rights" in this state? It'll just put all those honest, hard-working, pure-as-the-driven-snow home builders out of business - and that's BAD, right?

So, yeah TValleyGirl, about all those damnable lies being thrown about - you should look into that, eh?

Posted by COMTE | January 14, 2008 6:20 PM

Who's bankrolling the initiative?

Posted by ahava | January 14, 2008 6:26 PM

This bill serves only one real purpose: to give more work to Plaintiff's attorneys. Right now, two parties (a homeowner and a builder) can enter into whatever contract they chose to. If either party breaches that contract, the non breaching party can sue for breach of contract.

Now, let's say that the this first homeowner sells the house to second homeowner. If the house turns out to have problems, this second homeowner is not allowed to sue the original builder because they never had contract together. The whole point of this bill is to change that. Not only will Plaintiff's attorneys be able to represent the first homeowners (which are a dwindling population), they will now be able to represent these later generation homeowners, opening up a whole new world of clients.

This bill is wrong because it destroys our freedom to contract. Under this bill, it doesn't matter what kind of agreement was reached between the builder and the first homeowner because this bill says a second homeowner can sue the builder even if they never breach the contract. Imagine if you could be sued for every agreement you entered into even if you never violated it?

Posted by Mac | January 14, 2008 9:12 PM

of course i would! people have to pay their mortgage, that legally binding contract they signed that states they will pay a predetermined amount of money or else, and they will do this for some amount of time.

people that don't pay their mortgage should be sued for breach of contract.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 15, 2008 12:36 AM

Fuck the BIAW. The fact that they're against it is enough of a reason to support it.

Posted by Greg | January 15, 2008 8:18 AM

Even by your standards Bellevue, that's one brilliant piece of idiotic logic.

On what legal grounds would a lender sue for breach of contract, when there are numerous legal remedies for recovery of losses written into the mortage itself? They can't just not foreclose on the property for instance, THEN claim breach, because they wouldn't have exhausted the remedies already available to them.

Dragging a contract dispute through the courts is expensive - gotta pay them lawyers - while foreclosure is a much quicker, and from a legal standpoint, more efficient means of remedy. That's why it's written into the mortgage contract in the first place.

Posted by COMTE | January 15, 2008 10:47 AM

Greg @13 - yeah, good call on that.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 15, 2008 11:50 AM

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