On Your Side: Nevada homeowners have fewer rights now in construction defect cases
Rotted wood is what's left of a deck that Randy Belford and Jennifer Russell had built on the back of their Carson City home 14 years ago.
"All you can see is just dry rot," Randy pointed out.
The first sign of trouble was stucco that had started to bubble from moisture. Randy and Jennifer had no idea what was going on beneath the surface.
But when they started to dig a little deeper, they were shocked by what they found. Jennifer showed us photos that show just how extensive the damage was.
"All of the wood that the deck had been constructed with was completely rotted," she said.
There's no telling how long the wood had been rotting or when the trouble started. Randy and Jennifer say they're convinced the deck was built incorrectly with improper drainage which they say caused the wood to rot prematurely. However the attorney for the builder tells News 4 the homeowners are to blame for failing to properly maintain the deck. The attorney also points out the warranty which would have covered any repairs expired more than a decade ago.
Russell pointed out they are fortunate the deck didn't collapse underneath them.
"Yes, we're very lucky," she said.
The fact is many homeowners now face an uphill battle when it comes to seeking accountability for construction defects.
When the 2015 Nevada Legislature passed AB 125 it shortened the amount of time you have to report a construction defect from ten years down to six. The new law also narrowed the definition of what a construction defect is and made it impossible for homeowners to ever collect attorneys fees if they go to court.
Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen, who sponsored that bill, did not return our phone calls for this story.
But we asked Democratic Assemblyman Skip Daly if he thinks the new law went too far?
"I think it did," he said.
Daly says the legislature needs to revisit this issue and take a closer at the rights of homeowners which were stripped away in 2015.
"They need to have some protections here if it wasn't constructed properly and we don't have them now in nevada," he explained.
Meantime Randy and Jennifer have spent $50,000 out of their own pockets to rebuild their deck. They hope it will last a lot longer this time. They also know that until the law changes, any costs to fix it will once again very likely fall on them.
"The shocking thing is there there is no real recourse," Russell said.
News 4 chose not to name the builder in this story because we don't have any proof that there was faulty construction and under the current law that builder is not liable for any repairs.
It goes to show, however, that the law has shifted and if you're a homeowner you need to be aware of what rights you have and don't have in cases like this.