Condominiums in the greater Seattle area should provide shelter from wind and rain, and should protect occupants against the risk of harm from earthquakes and fires. Building codes, published standards of good workmanship, and installation instructions form the manufacturers of building products provide detailed instructions regarding how to build a weatherproof, safe, quality, building that will stand the test of time.
Unfortunately, condominium buildings often do not comply with these standards. Once construction is complete, most of the important weatherproofing materials and workmanship are hidden from view and cannot be observed without removing the exterior siding.
A purchaser of a unit in a condominium complex may not realize that he or she is purchasing a share of common ownership of the roofs, framing, windows, and siding in all six buildings. Purchasers of condominium units generally are not in a position to perform an inspection of all buildings in the condominium complex. Nor would it make economic sense for each purchaser of a unit to pay for a separate intrusive inspection of each building.
On July 1, 2018, the Washington Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act (WUCIOA) went to effect. The WUCIOA is comprehensive legislation which will apply to many types of common interest communities, including condominiums, homeowner associations, and real estate cooperatives.
Condominiums created after June 30, 2018, will be governed exclusively by the provisions of the WUCIOA. Condominiums created before July 1, 2018 will be governed by the Washington Condominium Act unless those condominiums amend their governing documents to bring their community entirely under the authority of the WUCIOA.
The prior Washington Condominium Act provided each unit purchaser with strong warranty rights that require the declarant to pay for the cost of repairing construction defects. These warranty rights usually expired four years form the date when the first unit was sold, even if the unit purchasers were unaware of the construction defects until later. Because most construction defects are hidden and unknown during the first four years, unit owners must conduct an intrusive investigation in order to protect their warranty rights.
While there has not yet been any case law determining the impact of WUCIOA on the warranty rights of associations and unit owners, we believe that the warranty rights of associations and unit owners are still protected and that construction defect actions are still a viable means recovering for defective construction.