Rocky Mountain News 7-29-2008
When Sue Small paid about $175,000 for her town home in the Central Park development in Aurora in 2003, she was thrilled.
“I was looking at a lot of single- family homes, but I kept going back and decided I should just buy it,” she recalled.
“It has a lovely layout. It is very warm and homey.” But her dream soon turned into a nightmare.
The front porch started to settle and sag, roof columns were separating and her front window leaked so much it was like a waterfall inside her home during a heavy rain.
Improper drainage was causing flooding in many of the basements in the 74-unit complex.
So when lawyer Chris Rhody recently called and told her that the Central Park Townhomes Condominium Association had won an $8 million construction defects settlement against the builder, ending two years of litigation, she was thrilled again.
“I let out a shriek,” she said. “I literally jumped up from my desk. Now we will have the money to get this fixed right.”
In March, a jury had awarded the association slightly more than $5 million, but earlier this month the settlement was amended to $8 million, said Rhody, of McKenzie Rhody & Hearn.
Industry officials contend they had trouble hiring qualified subcontractors, which is playing a big role in recent cases alleging shoddy construction.
Rhody said that his victory against Central Park Town homes LLC and general contractor Fairfield Construction Co. sends a message to builders.
“The case shows that Colorado juries take construction defects very seriously,” Rhody said. “It also means builders can expect similar judgments if they fail to follow the standard of care during the construction process.”
Lawyer Dan Fowler, one of the attorneys representing the homebuilder, said they don’t plan to appeal.
Fowler said builders constructing homes during the housing boom in the 2000-2001 era “had a difficulty in finding qualified subcontractors and were forced to hire people who were basically carpetbagging from place to place.”
That was a time when many people were taking their money out of the stock market and putting it into homes.
Asked if unqualified subcontractors caused the problems at Central Park Townhomes, Fowler said, “There were a number of subs who wound up getting replaced.”
Said Rob Nanfelt, of the Colorado Association of Home Builders, “I think that was probably a pretty fair assessment of what had been going on.”