One of the thorns in the side of every construction defect defense litigator is the implied warranty claim. The “implied warranty” is a promise that Colorado law is “implied” into every contract for a sale of a new home that the home was built in a workmanlike manner and is suitable for habitation. Defense attorneys dislike the implied warranty claim because it is akin to a strict liability standard. All that is required to provide the claim is that an aspect of construction is found to be defective — i.e., inconsistent with the building code or manufacturer’s installation instructions — regardless of whether the work was performed to the standard of care. The implied warranty claim is therefore easier to prove than a negligence claim, where a claimant must prove that a construction professional’s work fell below a standard of reasonable care. Additionally, it is not a defense to an implied warranty claim that the homeowners or the HOA are, themselves, partially liable for the defects where damage is due in part to insufficient or deferred maintenance, as it is for negligence claims. The only redeeming aspect to the implied warranty claim was that, until recently, it was believed that it could only be asserted by a first purchaser against the seller of an improvement, because the implied warranty arises out of the sale contract.
Recently, the Colorado Court of Appeals opinion in Brooktree Village Homeowners Association v. Brooktree Village, LLC, 19CA1635, decided on November 19, 2020, extended the reach of the implied warranty — though just how far remains to be seen. Specifically, a division of the Court of Appeals held that an HOA can assert implied warranty claims on behalf of its members for defects in common areas, even where there is no direct contractual relationship between the parties to base the warranty upon.