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Lemon Laws For Buildings

Lemon Laws for Buildings

Quality, Consequences and the Construction Industrial Complex (part 146).

To misquote Henry David Thoreau, the property industry is “hacking at the branches of the problems and not striking at the root”. 

What problems? 

  • Poor design. BTW, copy and paste is not design.
  • Low quality outcomes.
  • High energy, high carbon outcomes.
  • Late and over budget buildings.
  • Low accountability for poor work in design and construction.

What will it take to strike at the root of these problems? IMHO it takes real accountability and consequences. The car industry has already provided the solution with Lemon Laws. 

Lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars and other consumer goods in order to compensate for products that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance. ( BTW, residential housing is a consumer good, not an investment. 

Unlike cars, property markets are extremely local and compete on first costs, not quality outcomes. This is why competition has not delivered high quality, low energy property alternatives. The property industry needs “Lemon Laws” for buildings. This is a macro level intervention that would provide recourse to building owners and consequences for poor work. With building Lemon Laws on the books, it only takes one or two legal cases setting precedent and the industry will be on notice. 

How can this get done? 

IHMO it would take an ambitious, populist Attorney General or a “Harvey Spector” ( type lawyer plus a hungry, young politician looking to make a name for themselves and take on the construction lobby groups plus the bought and paid for politicians. As Winston Churchill observed in politics, to get noticed as a little guy you have to attack the big guys. 

The key to getting this done is to start with residential buildings as a consumer advocate then move to commercial buildings. Anyone out there with the bare brass B@!!s to take this on? I really hope so because the industry, consumers, owners and the environment need things to change. 

Twitter: @BLDWhisperer

Related Posts:

#131 – Reflections on Horrific MEP Spec’s (

#129 – Design & Build? Nope….. ( )

#88 – HVAC – The Low Consequences Game ( )

The full, correct Thoreau quotation is “‘There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.’ ~ Henry David Thorea ( 

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