Recent warranty inspection in EncinitasWhat Defects Does A Builder's Warranty Cover?
It takes about a year of living in a new home to know how it is going to hold up under various conditions. Each new season brings new weather challenges which can test new construction. If all goes well, you won't notice any problems, but what if you do? Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover any type of construction flaws. This is the reason why so many home builders issue limited warranties to those who purchase the homes they build.
Home builder warranties are usually broken into different time frames which detail what is actually covered. For example, labor and building materials may be covered for one year, electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing, and more may be covered for two years, and structural flaws could be covered for a full ten years. In most cases, the parts of the home which are most likely to wear out quickly are those which are only covered for the first year of home ownership. After this, all repair or replacement costs may fall on you.
For this reason, it is wise to have a home inspection completed prior to the expiration of each covered part(s) of the home. Just because you have not noticed any problems does not mean that they do not exist. A professional home inspector is trained to spot issues and potential issues which could be repaired at no cost to you if they are covered within the builder's warranty period. At the very least, the inspection process should be completed prior to the end of the first year of ownership, leaving enough time to get a report prepared and any problems found to be reported to the builder.
Common exclusions from the builder’s warranty include:
- Any damage caused by abuse or neglect of the home caused by you
- Problems related to any failure to perform basic maintenance (water damage in a shower from failed caulking, for example)
- Deterioration of materials within anticipated levels. A small amount of rust on a section of wrought iron fencing, a hairline crack in the stucco are examples of acceptable flaws.
- Damage caused by natural disasters, animals, or outsiders
- Damage which was caused by anyone you hired to work on the home or property
- Home appliances (these may have their own warranties)
- Any expenses related to having to vacate the home while repairs are made
What If the Home Inspection Reveals Problems?
If problems are noted, you'll need to follow the steps for filing a claim. Read the warranty to find out what these steps are. Most ask that you submit a written notification directly to the builder, though some allow you to simply place a call to report an issue. Even if you choose to just call, a letter is an excellent idea because it shows that you intend to assert your rights and provides proof that you have notified the builder of the problems. All written documentation should be sent certified with proof of delivery.
Some warranties include a visit from a quality-control inspector which is supposed to inspect the home within the first year and report any problems. The potential problem with this is that you cannot know for certain whether or not this individual is going to be impartial. Consider hiring your own home inspector in order to ensure that your best interests are being looked after. Yes, this will be an extra cost, but the cost can absolutely be worth the peace of mind.
On a final note, be prepared to take action should your home inspection reveal any issues. Some builders will try to drag out repair work until the warranty has expired. Some even have the warranty written in such a manner that it allows them to string the home buyer along until such time that they are no longer required to make any repairs. And remember, just because a home is new does not mean that it is flawless. Take the steps required to protect yourself from incurring any unnecessary home repair costs and hold the builder accountable.