A home warranty gives you peace of mind
Buying a home is a major life decision. When making this large purchase, you’re sure to be concerned about quality and integrity of your home and builder following the closing. To reassure you, builders provide a home warranty.
All builders warrant their construction. Whether your builder is a local one or a publicly traded national home builder, he will provide a warranty.
Builders may create and support their own warranties or they may use a third-party firm to provide the warranty. Examples of third-party warranty companies used by many builders are those such as 2-10 Home Buyer’s Warranty, Quality Builder’s Warranty and Residential Warranty Company, LLC.
What is a new home warranty?
A new home warranty is like an insurance policy — and indeed some new construction warranties actually are insurance policies. As with most insurance policies there are many terms, qualifications and conditions to understand.
Builders offer information on their websites about their specific home warranties. Most allow you to download samples of their warranty booklets directly from the website. Read the warranties offered by builders you’re considering. Reviewing home warranties before you choose your builder can help you decide on your preferred builder.
Just like a contract, a warranty is a legally binding document. Don’t assume you understand it without some guidance. You might ask your RealtorⓇ or attorney to help advise you about all the legalities of the warranty.
Most new home warranties are transferrable to subsequent buyers while they are in force. There may be particular conditions or fees attached to these transfers, but you should have comfort knowing that your major investment is protected.
Parties and roles in a new construction warranty
A warranty has several parties in it: You, the builder and the warranty company (if a third party home warranty.) Each party in the warranty accepts roles and actions associated with that role. For example, your builder is supposed to build a home that is safe and meets all building codes. You, as the homeowner, are supposed to keep your home in good condition, performing routine homeowner maintenance.
Take care of your home to keep your warranty in force
If you perform regularly scheduled maintenance, you help keep your warranty valid. To inform you of your responsibilities, every builder will provide you with a pre-closing “walk through” or “new homeowner orientation”. At this time, they may touch on these tasks.You will get additional support and information when the home transfers to your ownership. At closing you will receive a home maintenance book advising you which chores to perform and at what intervals. Builders like Lennar, frequently have videos to educate you on these tasks.
Owning a home is rather like having a child. It requires regular care, looking after and check-ups to be sure it is in good health. If you don’t care for your home, you may find, should you have a claim, that your negligence in performing regular maintenance voids your warranty.
How your warranty may be structured
Most common warranties are divided into year one, year two and years three–ten.
Generally, in the first year after closing, your builder will repair all issues which meet the warranty’s conditions.
Frequently appliances such as washers and clothes dryers, stoves, microwaves and HVAC systems are covered by warranties specific to their manufacturers and which are transferred to you upon closing. However, some builders will assist and support homebuyers who have issues with appliances in year one.
Most of your “delivery systems” such as electrical wiring, plumbing and waste systems, ducting, and cabling are covered from year one through year two. These are warranted to perform to standards up to year two.
Years three through ten continue coverage for structural issues. Structural members such as trusses, beams, headers, lintels, foundations, joists are all covered for up to ten years against defects in construction.
Learn how to make a home owner warranty claim
Your builder has specific procedures for you to use to report issues you feel may be warranty issues. Familiarize yourself with these so if you need to submit a claim, you know how to do so. And be advised, if your builder tries to get in touch with you to check out the issue and you are not able to accommodate him, you may lose the opportunity to make the claim you’re submitting.
What is not covered in your home owner warranty?
Normal wear and tear or cracks, settling, drywall tape pops, and nail pops may be covered — or not. This is when you must consult your warranty booklet. In the first year you own your home, you’re going to see some settling in your home, or you may see slight changes in the colors of finishes. Consulting your warranty booklet will help you know when something is severe enough to report as a claim.
Though in general, your home should be free from water intrusion, it should heat and cool you adequately, your electrical systems should function reliably and safely, your plumbing should not back up, your foundation should not shift, walls should not sag, nor should floors lift or crack. But should you allow the tub to overflow and the flooring buckles, that is not a home warranty claim. Or if you have hail that damages your roof, that's not a warranty claim. Or if your child flushes his shoes down the toilet and it backs up, that is not a warranty claim. Any item that you contribute to causing to happen like the ones above are not examples of defective construction.
Rest easy, knowing you're covered
When you close on your home you can set your mind at ease knowing that your home has been built by a professional home builder who cares about your safety and the quality of the home you live in. You can be assured that a warranty is in-place. And in the rare situation that a home has issues, you can be reassured knowing that your warranty protects your major investment.
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