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Tips to Maximize Your Warranty Coverage After Closing On Your New Construction Home
By Ryan Siebert
Unlike cars, houses do not come with a 5 year 100,000 mile warranty. How can you avoid getting yourself in a bad situation or a dispute no one wants to be a part of when it does comes time for you to request repair work on your new home?
The warranty that your builder does provide you is often no longer than 1 year. With most builder warranties you do not have an unlimited amount of opportunities to cash in your repair items. The following are tips that you can use to help you understand your warranty and the items that are covered by your builder.
- Read your warranty – I mean it, actually read what is covered. Your warranty paperwork provided by your builder is usually long, small print and zero pictures. I know it because I edited and wrote the warranty that we use for SG Home Builders. The idea that most builders are banking on is that they can always refer back to the warranty that you signed off on if there is any dispute in the work that is in question. You will notice a lot of wording that will be very specific on the amount of leeway a builder has when it comes to repair work. In general builders are trying to avoid having repair work that results in overuse of man hours and multiple disputes over the “right” way work should be completed. You will also notice in your warranty that some items are only repairable one time, paint is a great example of this. Do not expect your builder to repaint your entire house after your warranty period is complete. Each builder will have their guidelines, but in general terms you will get one shot at paint touch up work to be completed. In addition there are likely some items that need to be pointed out BEFORE you move in according to your warranty. In other words, if your kitchen cabinet was perfectly fine before you moved in and someone pulled it off of the hinges afterwards, do not expect your builder to cover your maintenance item. This would likely be a wear and tear item that you will need to correct. Also, your warranty paperwork will likely detail when you can request repair work. The last thing that a builder wants to do is end up coming to your house each month. You will have specific timelines for your repair work to be completed. Read the details, and if concerned talk to your builder about it so you understand what to expect.
- Testimonials – Talk to previous clients of your builder and see what the warranty process is like. Make sure that you are comfortable with the results of the warranty work that was provided, the timelines, and the communication that the previous clients had been given throughout the process. The way that your builder handled the repair work in the past will go a long way to determining your expectations for the future.
- Watch out for 3rd party warranty companies – While the terms of the 3rd party warranty company are often exciting and almost always offer longer coverage than your builder will, you need to be skeptical of the coverage that they provide. In general, 3rd party warranty companies do not get paid to do repair work. In all likelihood you will end up in a dispute with the repair company and your original builder. In instances like this I personally would rather be dealing with the builder directly.
- Know who you will be dealing with after you close – Your building representative may have been fantastic, and likely you talked with them thousands of times over the past nine to twelve (to twenty-four…) months of building your dream home. You should not be surprised if the person that you talk to after you close is someone new. Make sure that you get to know the proper personal so you can communicate your repair requests to the proper person.
- Practice Patience – Understand, your builder wants to complete your punch list and close out the warranty just as much as you do. The reality is as long as you do not have water or mold issues and your electric and gas is working you are not a priority to your builder. The best advice I can give is to communicate all of your repair items at once so your builder can plan for the proper repair work to be scheduled and completed as soon as possible. Expecting your builder to stop everything that they are doing to come and fix a small repair list is unrealistic. If your builder has the proper communication with you then you can expect the repair items to be scheduled and repaired in the timeline that you both agreed to.
Repair work and warranty coverage is a part of the homebuilding process. Expecting your builder to build the perfect house with no flaws after move in is not realistic. Make sure you take time to understand what you can expect from your house and your builder once you close on your customized home.