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What a New-Home Warranty Really Covers

July 16, 2018

A new home will often come with a warranty from the builder, but that doesn’t mean the builder is on the hook for anything that breaks. Warranties differ from builder to builder, but they typically cover only specific features such as:

  • Concrete foundations and floors
  • Clapboard and shingles
  • Carpeting
  • Thermal and moisture cover
  • Waterproofing
  • Insulation
  • Roofing and siding
  • Doors and windows
  • Garage doors
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Heating and cooling
  • Septic system

Builder warranties usually last anywhere from six months to two years. Some last up to 10 years to cover “major structural defects.”

However, many builder warranties do not cover:

  • Household appliances
  • Shrinkage or expansion of the house
  • Shrinkage of joints and minor cracking
  • Insect damage
  • Dampness or condensation caused by inadequate ventilation

“A builder warranty can give a false sense of security to home buyers, so you need to be careful,” says Robert Pellegrini Jr., president of PK Boston, a real estate law firm in Massachusetts. Pellegrini recommends that a real estate attorney look over the sale contract. “It’s a significant negotiation; the builder wants to be responsible for essentially nothing, and it’s in the buyer’s best interest to have the builder on the hook for as much as possible,” he says.

Pellegrini says it’s important for new-home buyers to know the length of the warranty and what’s included and to learn how to notify the builder if something goes wrong during the warranty period. He says the biggest issue with warranty coverage is the cause of the problems the homeowner wants the builder to cover. “Was the damage due to neglect during building or to misuse by the homeowner?” Pellegrini says.