You’ve moved into your new home and are enjoying all the comforts and conveniences you have selected. Then you discover that during heavy rains, water leaks in under your front door. What do you do?
Your home's first year is like a boat’s shakedown cruise. During this year you're going to experience things that work beautifully and you may discover a few things that don't work the way you expected them to. The good news is your home owner’s warranty probably covers most of the issues you encounter. Your warranty protection is secured by your compliance with all aspects of your warranty.
Your warranty is one line of protection
Almost every new construction home includes a Limited Home Warranty. According to 2-10.com, one of the leading sources of new construction home warranties, this is an “insurance-backed, new construction structural warranty from your home builder. It's the most-used and best-recognized warranty in the home-building business. This one year of workmanship coverage, two years of systems coverage, and ten years of structural defect coverage is approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and offers comprehensive coverage on your new home purchase.”
During the first year, your builder will attend to the majority of issues. Year one your warranty covers defects of workmanship and materials. Your home’s systems are covered for two years, and most warranties provide 10 years insurance against structural defects. The specifics are detailed in your warranty handbook.
Most all homeowner warranties exclude a number of items such as issues caused when the home is used for nonresidential purposes or noncompliance with building codes, or acts of God or war, or failure of your builder to complete construction. Also not covered is any condition which has not caused physical damage to your home. If your negligence has contributed to the worsening of an issue or caused an issue, you may not be covered. You are your first line of defense against loss of coverage, so take care of your home according to the maintenance check list provided by your warranty handbook and your builder.
File a home warranty claim in accordance with guidelines
Your warranty booklet includes directions on how to file a claim when you find something which meets the criteria specified for a defect. For every aspect of the construction of your home your warranty defines deficiencies, sets forth construction performance guidelines, and outlines Builder/Seller/Warrantor Responsibility as well as makes explicit what is an exception to this.
It is in your best interest follow all directions on how to maintain your home and how to report deficiencies. To ignore any of these items or to not follow directions is to potentially void your warranty. Carefully document issues and keep notes and copies of correspondence with your builder.
What is a construction deficiency?
Be advised, there are very explicit definitions for every deficiency. Some items which you find unacceptable, may be within the limits of acceptability as defined by your home warranty. For example, consider sample warranty terms regarding nail pops. In a typical 2-10 Warranty, nail pops are covered as a deficiency if they meet this specific definition: “Nail pops and blisters that are readily visible from a distance of 6 feet under normal lighting conditions are deficiencies.” As an exception it is noted, "Depressions or slight mounds at nail heads are not considered deficiencies. Builder/Seller is not responsible for nail pops or blisters that are not visible, such as those covered by wallpaper."
Homebuilders right to cure in South Carolina
In the State of South Carolina homebuilders have the “right to cure” or fix your issue. And you must provide them the opportunity to do that. This means that you need to allow them to inspect the problem and provide you the solution or resolution to your home’s issue. Preventing a builder from assessing the problem or resolving it, may void your warranty and cause you to be fully responsible for the issue.
In our experience, homebuilders want happy, satisfied homebuyers and the majority honor all aspects of their obligations, many going above and beyond to provide superior customer service. It is rare that you need to consider legal solutions to remedy an issue in your new construction home.
Keep good records, and hold onto your paperwork
It is crucial to file and keep all your correspondence materials and documents from the sale and closing of your home, including all materials you were provided during the marketing phase. If an issue arises which is truly a deficiency and the home warranty does not address it and the builder does not fix it, you may find that you need to seek legal counsel. Materials from the sales and closing process may be valuable to preparing your legal claim against the builder.
Regular homeowner maintenance can prevent or catch most issues
You are your own best defense against problems in your home. Create a schedule of monthly, quarterly and annual maintenance tasks based on your builder’s recommendations in your warranty manual. Put them on the calendar and follow-through. Address minor issues immediately, before they become major.
A new home is not an apartment you’re leasing where you depend on a landlord to fix, repair or replace items. As a homeowner, that is now your responsibility. Protecting your investment by caring for your property is essential to having peace of mind and happiness in your home.
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