Your Responsibilities Under the Building Codes

The Banker and Tradesman had a timely opinion piece from the law firm Bowditch and Dewey which laid out a recent Massachusetts Appeals Court decision. Downey v. Chutehall Construction Co., Ltd. was a case in which a roofing contractor was hired to install a new rubber membrane over the existing roof.  Several years after the work was completed, it was discovered that there were four layers of roofing materials even though the code only allows two layers on a building.

As a result, the owners filed suit against the roofing contractor for damages related to replacing the roof and deck. The state also fined the contractor for violating the building codes and other Statutes.

At trial, it was revealed that the homeowner had said there was only one layer of roofing when the contractor was bid on the job. In addition, they had refused to allow the roofing contractor to remove the existing layers or do a test cut to determine the actual number of layers. Instead, they instructed to contractor only to install the new rubber membrane to save on costs.

The Appeals Court ruled that regardless of the homeowner’s wishes, if a building is in violation, then the contractor may be liable for double or triple damages. This is true even if they didn’t know the facts leading to the violation.