Reforming Colorado's construction defects laws in order to incentivize the building of condominiums and townhomes has emerged as a priority for both Republicans and Democrats early in the legislative session.
State Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, and House Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, are prime sponsors of a bill tackling the issue, with co-sponsorship from House Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist, R-Centennial, and Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver.
“This is the first step in a multi-tier process to help Coloradans attain a home of their own, and I am pleased to be a part of this critical legislation,” Wist said in a statement.
Senate Bill 17-045 was introduced Jan. 11, the first day of the session, and has been assigned to the senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee. It targets insurance rates.
In construction defects actions in court in which more than one insurer has a duty to defend a party, the bill would require the court to apportion the cost of defense among all of them. Supporters of the bill say it would simplify and reduce litigation costs.
“By targeting insurance rates, we're addressing the problem without reducing consumers' rights to protect the property that they spend their life's savings to buy,” Duran said.
Grantham said that while 100,000 people moved to the state last year, only 25,000 new homes were built.
Reforming the law on construction defects has been a longtime priority of Republicans in the Legislature. They say the status quo prevents condos and townhomes from being built, leading to Coloradans facing the choice of either apartments or single-family homes, with no middle-price ground. Reform is also supported by several business groups, including the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce. Some cities and towns — including Lakewood, Littleton and Parker — have passed ordinances addressing the issue in recent years, as legislation died at the Capitol.
State Rep. Susan Beckman, R-Littleton, has identified reforming construction defects laws as a priority of hers this session.
“There is a need to greatly modify the destructive construction defects law that was passed in 2008,” the Littleton Republican told Colorado Community Media in early January. “We must ensure a market-driven economy and availability of attainable home ownership options that are not hindered by regulation and manipulation.
Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, R- Highlands Ranch, also says the issue is a priority.
“Flawed laws from the recent past have made it impossible for homebuilders to meet market needs, especially for first-time homebuyers and downsizing seniors,” he told Colorado Community Media ahead of the session's kickoff. "Instead of attainable housing, many Colorado families are trapped in apartments, unable to realize their housing dream.”