By Brenoch Wirthlin
In the most recent legislative session, some important changes were made to Nevada’s construction defect law, which largely benefits contractors. AB 125 substantially revises the procedure for homeowners to pursue claims for alleged construction defects. It establishes a procedure for a homeowner and the contractor/supplier to have a judgment entered before a civil action for the construction defect starts. This provision favors both contractors, subcontractors and design professionals, as well as homeowners as it provides a new avenue for settlement of claims without the expense and time involved in litigation. AB 125 also changes the definition of “construction defect” to those presenting an unreasonable risk of injury to a person or property or that is not completed in a workmanlike manner. This change may limit and will likely benefit contractors.
AB 125 also steps up the requirement of information regarding the defect to be provided in “specific detail” signed by the homeowner, stating the exact location of the defect and verifying that it exists. This will likely decrease litigation by requiring homeowners to comply with additional and higher standards in order to pursue claims for alleged construction defects.
Further, AB 125 requires that if a notice of alleged construction defect includes an expert opinion, the homeowner and expert must have been physically present for the opinion. AB 125 also raises the filing fee for a complaint alleging a construction defect to $349, removes an owner’s ability to recover attorney’s fees as part of a construction defect claim, and limits other damages. These changes will potentially have a substantial, positive impact for contractors, subcontractors and design professionals as attorneys may be much less likely to represent homeowners if the possibility of a large attorney’s fee award is removed.
In my work representing contractors and subcontractors, the previous provisions of Chapter 40 of the Nevada Revised Statutes concerning claims for alleged construction defects often left contractors and other design professionals at the mercy of frivolous claims without much recourse. These changes to the construction defect law from the most recent legislative session will likely provide a positive benefit to contractors, subcontractors and other design professionals. They have been adopted to encourage resolution of purported construction defect claims without court involvement, while still providing an adequate and available forum for homeowners.
Brenoch Wirthlin in an attorney with Fennemore Craig, a Mountain West law firm. Brenoch is based in Las Vegas and practices in the areas of bankruptcy law and civil litigation. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.