So you’re buying a newly constructed home, and it comes with a builder warranty. Awesome! That means that the builder will assume financial responsibility for anything that breaks, right? Well, not exactly. A builder warranty is issued to most new constructions, but it covers a very specific list of features in and on the house. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, it’s important to understand what it covers, how to make a claim, and the process for resolving disputes that may arise between you and the builder or warranty company.

Warranties for newly built homes generally offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials relating to various components of the home, such as windows, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, and electrical systems for specific periods. While specific coverage is different from builder to builder here is a general list of things that typically are and are not covered.

Builder warranties typically cover:

    • Concrete foundations and floors
    • Dry basement
    • Clapboard and shingles
    • Landscaping
    • Carpentry
    • Thermal and moisture cover
    • Waterproofing
    • Insulation
    • Roofing and siding
    • Doors and windows
    • Glass
    • Garage doors
    • Paint
    • Plumbing
    • Electrical
    • Heating and cooling
    • Septic system

Most builder warranties don’t cover:

    • Household appliances
    • Defects resulting from work conducted by the homeowner or anyone else after the builder’s work is completed
    • Shrinkage and expansion of the house
    • Normal fading of paint
    • Shrinkage of joints/minor cracking
    • Weather-related issues
    • Dampness/condensation caused by failure of the homeowner to maintain adequate ventilation
    • Insect damage

Making a Warranty Claim

What should you do if you have a defect in your home that may be covered by your warranty? First, read the warranty or service contract carefully to make sure that your problem is covered. Pay particular attention to the duration of specific types of coverage. Next, file your claim according to the instructions in your warranty, and put your request for repair in writing, even if the company provides a hotline for urgent requests. Request a return receipt, and keep a record of your correspondence and conversations with the company. Chances are your claim will be handled amicably and to your satisfaction, but if a dispute arises, it’s good to have a record of your dealings with the builder and the warranty company.

For More Information

To learn more about warranties on newly built homes, contact your state or local builders’ board. If you have a loan insured by FHA, contact the closest U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development field office for more information, or visit www.hud.gov. If you have a VA loan, you can contact the nearest VA office, or visit www.homeloans.va.gov. You can find the phone number for either agency in the blue pages of your telephone directory.