like child abuse, if you want to make some
change you need to make institutional
changes,” she says.
So she enrolled at Northern Illinois
University College of Law—“It had a strong
program in public interest law,” she says—
but found Chicago wasn’t the ideal place to
start her new career. “My husband was from
Belize,” she says, “and he came up to visit
me in the middle of a Midwestern blizzard.”
Colorado became a happy compromise.
After taking a maternity year she applied
Eventually, the firm became Benson &
at Burdman & Benson, a construction law
firm based in Arvada. “Heidi had little
legal experience and little understanding
of construction,” recalls Benson. “What
touched me about her is that Heidi was a
person who didn’t just talk the talk. She had
already served the poor in Central America in
the Peace Corps.”
With Benson as mentor, Storz plunged
into the world of construction law,
working late nights to master theories
of recovery and the differences between
builder-vendors, general contractors,
subcontractors and design professionals.
Associates in 2003. Storz continued
working with Benson, and within two years
he promoted her to partner.
“Almost every firm in town has offered
Heidi a job at different times,” says
Benson, “and she was loyal to stick it out
with a small firm like ours. She helped
make us what we are today.”
The urge to serve continues in work that
connects Storz to her first job out of college.
As a board member of Imagine!, a Colorado
nonprofit organization that offers services to
people with developmental disabilities, Storz
continues to improve the lives of others in
IN THE COMING YEAR, COLORADO’S
long-running battle over construction
defect law and the rights of homeowners
may move from the courtrooms to the
state Capitol. Leaders of the Colorado
Association of Home Builders are expected
to push legislation in the 2014 session
aimed at making it more difficult to sue
homebuilders for defective work.
Colorado builders have long complained
about construction defect lawsuits,
especially in the condominium market.
“If it’s a multifamily project and it hasn’t
been sued,” Colorado Association of Home
Builders CEO Arnie Mayhew told Builder
magazine, “it will be.”
In 2008, townhouses, duplexes and
condominiums represented 46 percent of
all Denver-area housing starts, according
to Builder magazine. By 2012, that figure
had fallen to 17 percent, and homebuilders
blame the decline on the fear of lawsuits.
Storz and other attorneys point out that
the entire housing industry tanked at the end
of 2008 due to the nationwide mortgage
crisis. Prior to that collapse, builders were
hammering up condos at breakneck speed.
“They built up an oversupply and are only
now just starting to create demand for that
product,” Storz says.
Most companies in the construction
industry, Storz adds, are good actors. “There
are a lot of builders we never see in court.
But there are some we see over and over:
production builders who have a reputation
for creating ‘blow-and-go’ developments.”
With the slow return of the housing
market, demand is picking up again in
Boulder and Denver, and some condos and
houses are being bid above their asking
price. But a good sign in the housing market
may be a bad sign for future homes.
“Now things are starting to go great
“If you build it correctly, you can avoid
guns again,” Storz says. “Builders are
starting to have a hard time finding
experienced workers for their projects.”
Inexperienced workers with poor
supervision often lead to invisible
construction defects. “Those mistakes will
have an afterlife that the homeowners will
experience for years to come.”
It doesn’t have to be that way, she adds.
Storz, who worked with the developmentally disabled for a few
years after college, is currently
a board member of Imagine!, a
nonprofit offering services to the