What is a Construction Warranty?
A construction warranty can help protect a building owner and the builder from future legal action if a construction defect is found. Although a warranty isn’t required, it can be included in the contract. Very little law regulates how warranties should be used.
As a result, Pennsylvania law protects home owners whether or not they have a warranty.
What is a Construction Warranty?
The home owner and builder can negotiate the terms for a warranty, including the length of time, type of problem, possible solutions, and problem management. Some warn that a warranty might undermine state law protections. However, in Pennsylvania, home owners receive the ability to file a lawsuit for a construction defect up until twelve years after the date of construction.
Implied Warranties: Good Workmanship and Habitability
Every home owner receives certain protections under the law, also known as implied warranties. An implied warranty does not need to be spelled out because it just exists. Two things that home owners expect to receive after construction or renovation is habitability as well as good workmanship. Both are reasonable expectations.
Of course, these implied warranties come with the statute of limitation and statute of repose set out by your state government. In Pennsylvania, the statute of repose lasts for twelve years.
Common One-Year Warranty
Many builders include a one-year warranty within their contract and try to have home owners sign away their right to implied warranties. While some states allow this, others don’t. If you aren’t sure what your state law is, reach out to a lawyer to find out.
While the builder wants to limit risk, you also need to know that if you discover a defect in your home that you will have options. A warranty can be negotiated. If you don’t like what’s written in the contract, suggest a change that will benefit you.
Quick Warranty Check List
|Vague in Issue Management and Fixes||Detailed in Procedure and Solution|
|Up to 12 years after construction date||1 year after specified date|
|Unresolved arguments settled in court||Written guidelines|
|Juries more likely to rule for home owner||Builder has more control|
|Weighed against good workmanship and habitability||Determined against detailed written warranty|
While so may argue that an implied warranty offers more protections to a home owner, others see the benefits of a warranty that is clear cut and straight forward. Less guessing and vagueness means security.
4 Steps to Protect Your Home from a Bad Warranty
When you are checking out a builder and reading their contract and warranty, you do not need to immediately sign. In fact, a contract can be adjusted to fit your specific case as well. You have options to protect your home from a bad warranty.
1. Negotiate the Period of Time for the Warranty
You don’t have to accept a one-year warranty. But, you could choose to accept a one-year warranty for certain types of situations with the exception of long-term defects. Negotiating changes in your warranty and contract are acceptable and appropriate.
2. Ask about Insurance Products
Building contractors often offer the option of extended warranty products. Although your warranty with the builder might end after a year, the products are sometimes insured for as long as 10 years. These insured items can help protect your interests.
3. Consult a Lawyer about Your Rights
Homeowners should run their building contract and warranty by an experienced lawyer to ensure that they are not signing away a right. Building costs will often exceed thousands of dollars. Therefore, hiring an attorney to check your paperwork is further investment in ensuring the quality of work done on your home.
4. Screen Your Contractor Carefully
Take your time in choosing a builder to care for your home building project and renovations. When you have someone with a good track record, you’re more likely to receive quality work with a good homeowner-builder relationship. The goal is to have a contract and warranty as backup but to hopefully not need to use them.