New Iowa law puts limitations on lawsuits filed over home defects

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BETTENDORF - When you build a house, you expect it to last a lifetime but there are no guarantees.

"Obviously there's always mistakes that happen, nobody's perfect, you're putting a million pieces together and problems happen," said Scott Webster, Vice President of the Quad Cities Builders and Re-modelers Association.

For years, Iowa homeowners had 15 years of protection. They could sue a builder for serious construction problems they later found in the home, but this year state lawmakers cut that protection by a third.

"The homeowner is without recourse when the defect, in practically all cases, has been caused by the contractor," said Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General.

Iowa homeowners had 15 years after their home was built to file a lawsuit but since July 1st, they now have 10.

Not just homeowners will feel the impact; those who buy commercial property in Iowa had 15 years to file suit and now they have eight.

"We think that it's unfair to consumers, the defects in buildings and commercial buildings too, can show up very easily between eight and 15 years out," said Miller.

Builders say the old rules put them between a wall and a hard place, "insurance companies were saying, Iowa is at such a long period of time for any kind of defect, that may be hard to prove whether the builder even did it or the homeowner modified the house," said Webster.

Builders say changing the law could actually save Iowa home buyers money.

"Prior to this law change and we're starting to see it tick down, we were figuring closer to $1,500 to $1,800 with insurance per house," said Webster.

In Bettendorf, houses are popping up left and right, more than 150 homes are built here every year and that's 150 families who want to make sure their houses are safe when they move in as well as years later.

"Just think about the person that does have a defect and $100,000 worth of damage after year eight, there's no way this law is gonna help that person, it's gonna hurt that person a lot," said Miller.

That's a little piece of mind for families getting ready to move into the home of their dreams.

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