Purchasing a home has always been considered an exciting and big life event. So of course it only makes sense for a homeowner to want to protect their big investment as best they can.
For buyers of resale homes, this typically means purchasing a home warranty. Although it is not an insurance policy, a home warranty can provide peace of mind and help curb financial strain in the event of a system failure or appliance malfunction. The challenge? There is an overwhelming amount of warranty options to choose from (take a minute to do a Google search, and you’ll see what I’m referring to). If a buyer doesn’t take the time to do his research and choose a sound warranty, they could easily be tossing money out the window.
For buyers of new home construction, there’s a lot less to worry about when it comes to appliance troubles, system meltdowns and home warranty decisions. That’s because the home and all of its features are brand new, and every new home that is purchased in the state of Pennsylvania comes with a warranty as required by law.
Even though it took decades to happen, the post-World War II construction boom was one of the driving factors behind home warranties coming into existence. With contractors and builders saturating the market — many which were far from reputable in their trade — a universal understanding of warranty needs eventually set the stage around the 1970s for states to implement laws that protect homeowners from shoddy contractors and home builders.
Home Builder Warranty Defined
In general terms, a home builder warranty is a contract between homeowner and home builder. The home builder warrants that the home they’ve constructed is free from qualified structural defects for a certain period of time.
Most home builders offer a 12-month warranty for general defects. For example, our firm offers a 12-month warranty on all of our homes which covers repair or replacement of defective materials or workmanship as outlined in our warranty. As part of our service after that sale, we follow a customary industry practice of notifying each homeowner at about 11 months that their warranty is set to expire. For builders like us, the one-year anniversary does not end the relationship, it just moves into the owner maintenance phase. Advice and assistance are just an e-mail or call away to the builder.
A few warranty tips for agents to share with their new home construction buyers include the following:
- It’s the responsibility of the buyer/owner to promptly notify their builder of any defect covered by their warranty.
- It’s the responsibility of the builder to examine any claimed defects in a reasonable time frame, determine if the defect is covered by the warranty and make all reasonable attempts to repair or replace the defect.
- Home damage caused by neglect or misuse on the part of the buyer or a third party will not be covered by a warranty.
- Every home builder warranty is different. Make sure a buyer understands and agrees to the warranty of their specific builder.
While workmanship defects are covered under the home builder warranty, issues related to home systems are typically covered by manufacturer warranties for the products that were chosen by the buyer and constructed into the home.
The most common manufacturer warranties include appliances (ovens, refrigerators, garbage disposals, etc.) and other home products such as windows, doors, flooring, lighting, plumbing and heating/air conditioning systems.
A few manufacturer warranty tips for agents to share with their new home construction buyers include the following:
- A manufacturer’s warranty typically covers parts and labor for 12 months from the settlement date with just a few exceptions.
- Buyers should make sure their builder provides copies of all the warranties for their home’s products and systems.
- Remind buyers to keep all warranties in a safe location in case they need to be referenced, especially in the event of an emergency.
Remove Warranty Worry
Let’s face it . . . warranties can be complicated and are often a source of frustration for consumers. So what’s the best way to remove warranty worry? Invest in high-quality products that have a reputation for reliable, long-standing performance. This rule applies to any product — cars, electronics, appliances, and yes . . . homes.
If you have a buyer who is considering new home construction, guide them to do their homework. Choose a builder who not only has a reputation for quality workmanship and using quality products in their construction but also stands by their work should anything go wrong.
The better the builder, the better the products that go into their homes. And the better the products, the less need to fall back on warranty coverage. But if coverage is ever needed, peace of mind is there.
Bill Patrick, EG Stoltzfus Homes
Facts, opinions and information expressed in the Closing Comments Blog represent the work of the author and are believed to be accurate, but are not guaranteed. The Lancaster County Association of Realtors® is not liable for any potential errors, omissions or outdated information. If errors are noted within a post, please notify the Association. Posts represent the author’s opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association.