Builders Agent For Notice with CA Secretary of State

Home, sweet home is a sentiment many people share. Your home is also where the most bitter, emotional disputes can arise when things go wrong. Knowing a consumers rights is important for every contractor. For homebuyers, protecting yourself before you move-in is a first step and subject of our first question

Q: Not sure if this falls under your expertise; but we have inspectors that we need to do 3rd party inspections, and I was wondering if they need to have a contractor license or a inspection license to be able to do this? Thank you.

A: The issue of Home Inspectors is addressed in B&P Code 7195. Home inspection is defined as a noninvasive physical examination performed for a fee in connection with the transfer of real property. This could involve the mechanical, electrical, or plumbing systems or the structural components of a residence.

Inspectors are NOT required to have a contractors license unless they offer to do the repair work or directly hire the licensed contractors they feel are needed as part of their home inspection report. This code section also outlines other restrictions imposed on home inspectors.

Q: I am an attorney in Southern California and need to know the builders agent of notice (civil code section 912e) for two homebuilders. I cannot locate this information on the Secretary of States web site. Also, what happens if the home is sold within the time period where structural defects can be discovered and claimed?

A: Thank you for this interesting question, however this information is not online. As we discussed, establishing a builders agent of notice was part of SB 800 signed into law on September 30, 2002. This legislation overhauled how homebuilders and homeowners should interact when construction defects are alleged. In part, Civil Code section 912(e) states: a builder shall maintain the name and address of an agent for notice pursuant to this chapter with the Secretary of State. Alternatively, the builder may elect to use a third party for that notice if the builder notifies the homeowner in writing of the third party’s name and address, to whom claims and requests for information under this section may be mailed. The name and address of the agent for notice or third party must be included with the original sales documentation and shall be initialed and acknowledged by the purchaser and the builder’s sales representative.

To date, only 401 builders have filed a Builders Agent For Notice with the Secretary of State, which is very surprising given the number of home builders in CA. It may be that a number of residential builders are taking the option of notifying owners in the original sales documents. Section 912(h) addresses your second question. The builder must instruct the original purchaser to provide those documents (with the third partys name and address) to any subsequent purchaser

If the initial homeowner fails to provide this important information to any subsequent buyer, this leaves the new homeowner in a bind (as you discovered)