Some people assume that high-ticket items always include a guarantee of quality or performance. In the case of a home building or renovation project, the builder’s reputation and experience indicate quality. However, to protect your investment, you will want to discuss any product and performance guarantee specifics and have evidence in a written agreement before any work is performed.
What Exactly Is a Warranty?
Most state law recognizes an “implied warranty” that offers limited protection to the buyer or homeowner. It is expected that a home will be built or remodeled to a certain level of quality and acceptable workmanship and that the structure will be safe and suitable for human habitation.
These are known separately as the “Warranty of Repose” and the “Warranty of Habitability.” Each is viewed primarily as a time clock that governs the length of time an owner or buyer has to file a legal complaint against a contractor. In addition, most states recognize a contractor’s “right to repair,” meaning that an owner is urged, if not required, to allow a builder or contractor to repair any errors or omissions prior to filing suit for damages.
The idea of home warranties can be complicated because much of what goes into a home — including roofing materials, windows and doors, heating and air conditioning systems, cabinets and carpet, appliances and plumbing fixtures — are manufactured, supplied, and/or installed by others. Such manufacturers and subcontractors may or may not provide separate warranties on labor and materials.
Warranty and the Law
The building and remodeling industry, unfortunately, has its share of unscrupulous actors. But the vast majority of contractors are reputable, knowledgeable, and dedicated business owners who seek to please their customers and perform at or above industry standards.
Occasionally, something goes wrong. Sometimes it’s the product that’s at fault; other times, it might be an oversight or an unconscious error on a worker’s part. A reputable contractor will stand behind the work and make things right.
Even a written warranty will not always guarantee total satisfaction. Still, any unwillingness to provide a written warranty might be considered suspect.
In Texas, in general, the warranty periods are:
- One year for workmanship and materials;
- Two years for plumbing, electrical, heating, and air-conditioning delivery systems; and
- Ten years for major structural components of the home.
Some builders and contractors are more than willing to offer extended warranties. That willingness might be another reason to direct your business toward those companies.
Another point to consider is whether a warranty is attached to the property or the owner. Transferable warranties can be an attractive selling point, particularly if they are longer than the statutory limits or extend beyond simple repairs and replacement of faulty systems or materials. In Texas, particularly due to shifting soil conditions, buyers will often pay a premium for a transferable foundation warranty, even if there is a transfer fee involved.
What happens if you don’t notice a problem until the time period has expired? Latent defects are not uncommon in construction, but with a 10-year structural warranty, callbacks beyond the 10-year statutory time period should be rare. However, you might ask your contractor how the discovery of such a defect would be treated.
Establishing a rapport with your contractor during the preliminary design and construction process is an advantage. Mutual respect will lead to the kind of relationship that would allow you to call about a minor adjustment even two or three years after project completion, as long as you don’t abuse the privilege.
It is wise, however, to rely on the written warranty provisions in most cases. If issues develop, it is also smart to attempt an amicable resolution rather than rushing to court. Most reputable builders will be much more apt to respond if you ask rather than demand and seek a solution that seems fair to everyone.
Workmanship Warranties vs. Warranties on Labor and Materials
Almost everyone knows about warranties attached to products: If an appliance doesn’t function as it should, or materials like roofing shingles or lighting and heating systems fail to perform as expected, a homeowner can expect some compensation from the manufacturer, the installer, or both. Typically, a warranty will stipulate whether the solution will include a total replacement, repair, or adjustment of a faulty part or onsite repairs to restore an item to normal function and appearance.
In the case of a home building or remodeling project, there is often a two-fold warranty, with different terms for labor and materials. Look for warranty language that specifies a workmanship guarantee, and read the fine print of any blanket warranty to understand the difference between a labor warranty and a workmanship guarantee. Warranties sometimes also cover installation labor that is performed following manufacturers’ instructions. Sometimes, however, the labor required to make actual repairs in case of product failures is not covered.
Always ask for clarification from your building or remodeling contractor. Homeowner workmanship warranties are typically for one year, but there are standard exceptions in many cases. Besides, builder warranties are not cast in stone. Many builders are amenable to discussing specific warranty terms. They will include project-specific language as requested by a client in a contract. Texas is one of several states that has codified the standards for particular categories, including foundations, plumbing, roofing, interior, and exterior. The state’s standards, limitations, and exclusions are readily available online: Search for such terms as “statute of repose” or “right to repair.”
That’s an advantage to the homeowner because it offers additional protection, but it’s even better to ask your builder to include language in the written contract that leaves no room for interpretation or misunderstanding.
It’s in the Details
No doubt embarking on a significant home renovation or addition requires diligence, patience, understanding, and trust between builders and clients. The best way to ensure that a project proceeds smoothly is to iron out all the details in advance, not only for design and aesthetics but also finances, scheduling, and legal requirements.
Take the time to read and thoroughly understand the specifications, the timeline, the draw or payment schedule, and the warranty. Read the fine print, ask questions, and seek explanations if something in the contract doesn’t seem right. Consider negotiating the warranty terms just as you would negotiate the price. It’s your right. Enter into a contract with full knowledge of the expectations and limitations. In short, do your due diligence and keep your eyes wide open!
Blackline Renovations Lifetime Warranty
As the premier remodeling contractor in Dallas and surrounding communities, Blackline Renovations strives for 100% customer satisfaction. We offer a unique and unmistakable guarantee of quality — we stand behind our labor indefinitely. We are proud of our record, and we continue to inspire trust and build lifetime relationships with our clients.
Our goal is to help you make your dreams a reality, and we pay attention to the details so that you don’t have to. We are dedicated to maintaining exemplary service and professionalism, and we are proud of our nearly two-decade record of achievement.
When you’re ready to talk about your remodeling plans, we hope you’ll contact us to schedule a consultation. In the meantime, we invite you to browse our photo gallery of completed projects and sign up for our newsletter to keep abreast of the latest remodeling ideas and home innovations.