You and your family waited months to step into your new home, and it seemed like a dream come true after construction was completed. However, it wasn’t long before that dream became a nightmare—and you were soon living out of a hotel again due to problems with the construction of your house.
All Builders Should Offer a Warranty on Their Work
It can take several months for a newly-constructed house to show signs of construction defects. Winter snows or summer rainfall may expose flaws that aren’t immediately apparent after construction, such as basement flooding or leaking insulation. For these reasons, home builders often provide new owners with a limited builder's warranty to guarantee the work for a short period of time.
However, a builder’s warranty will not cover all types of damage to your home. You may not be able to pursue a claim if the damage to your house occurred due to:
- Improper maintenance. It is important that you adhere to all of your required maintenance obligations when you take possession of your home. Failure to have your home properly inspected, clean rain gutters, remove snow in a timely fashion, and other ignored responsibilities can give a builder grounds to deny your warranty protection.
- Natural causes. Changes to the structure and interior of your house caused by the weather, such as shrinking and warping of boards (within certain parameters), or damage done by storms, natural disasters, or soil movements are typically covered under a homeowner’s policy rather than a builder’s warranty.
- Tenant liability. You may negate the provisions of your warranty if you or someone who lives in the home could have contributed to the damage. Actions such as installing your own plumbing or electrical wiring or performing other additions without the help of a qualified professional could work against your claim.
- Third-party damage. Any damage that was caused or contributed to by another entity, including other workers, animals, thieves, vandals, or any of the appliances or systems installed on the property will likely not be covered under a typical builder’s warranty.
It is a good idea to have your home inspected before the warranty expires to make sure any potential problems are completed and paid for by the construction company. Even if the builder offers to send his own building inspector to sign off on the soundness of your house, it is always a good idea to hire your own independent inspector to be sure that nothing is overlooked.
What Should I Do to Make Sure I Get Proper Payment in My Claim?
The first thing you should do is examine your builder’s warranty very carefully. There should be clear instructions on filing a claim (many builders purchase third-party insurance), the items that are covered and excluded, and how long each portion of the house is under warranty. There is often less coverage (one year) on labor and materials, while plumbing, electrical, heating, and other installed systems may be covered for two or more years. A clause concerning structural defects should be in effect for the longest period of time, but many new homeowners do not look for this coverage before taking possession of the home, making it more difficult to file a claim.
The property damage attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP can get you the coverage you need to pay for the repair to your home, as well as any housing costs and expenses you incur while construction is taking place. Call us today at 800-237-3334 to have us explain the legal details of your claim at no cost to you.