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Blanchette v. Superior Court (2017)

April 13, 2017

Brennan J. Mitch, Esq.

In Blanchette v. Superior Court (2017), the California Court of Appeal addressed a novel question: when must defects in a homeowner’s claim be raised by the builder?  The Court held as a matter of first impression that a builder’s failure to acknowledge receipt of a homeowner’s notice pursuant to the Right to Repair Act within 14 days released the homeowner from all further requirements under the Act even if the initial notice failed to satisfy the specificity requirements under the Act.

The Court of Appeal observed that the goal of the Right to Repair Act, Civil Code Section 895 et seq., is to resolve construction defects without resort to litigation.  The Court reasoned that this goal “cannot be achieved by permitting homebuilders to serve tardy responses to claims or to ignore them entirely.”  Further, Section 930 provides that all time periods under the Act are to be strictly construed.

Under the Act, the builder had 14 days to acknowledge receipt of the homeowner’s notice.  In Blanchette, the builder responded on the 21st day by asserting that the alleged construction defects were not described with sufficient detail but nonetheless offered to inspect the homes.  The Blanchette Court strictly construed the deadlines and found the acknowledgement to be untimely, thus releasing the homeowner from further obligations under the Act.

The Court’s opinion summarized Blanchette’s lesson for builders: “a developer who unilaterally concludes the level of specificity in a notice is insufficient, and therefore concludes it need not respond within the 14-day period prescribed by statute, acts at its peril if later, it wishes to employ the inspection and settlement process otherwise mandated by the statute.”

By: Brennan J. Mitch, Esq.

Cochran, Davis & Associates, P.C.


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