I purchased a brand-new home less than one year ago and expected to be covered by the builder’s warranty. But the builder refuses to repair any of the defects I’ve reported to him. For example, black mastic has seeped through the tile joints in my bathroom counter. He says I should have noticed these conditions during my final walkthrough inspection, prior to purchase. Since I did not see this condition then, he says it’s not covered by the warranty. What should I do? –Carolyn
The actions and motives of some individuals are denigrated by vast quantities of soiled neurons – a condition commonly known as dirty nerve. Your builder would appear to be one of those unprincipled persons. Since when are builders’ warranties limited merely to defects that a buyer happens to notice on the day of a final walkthrough inspection? What does he presume a walkthrough inspection to be, a reality game show? He needs to wake up to the laws that apply to his chosen vocation and to straightforward business practices in general. Essentially, he is responsible for construction defects that resulted on his watch, as prescribed by state law. That includes all defects that occurred during construction or that manifested during the warranty period, not just the ones you were lucky enough to spot during game time.
This situation illustrates my repeated emphasis on the importance of hiring a qualified home inspector when buying a brand-new home. Even when builders are more honest and forthright than yours, the only way to take advantage of the warranty is to discover the defects. A professional defect finder is more likely to find the warranted problems than is the average home buyer. My advice is to find the most thorough and experienced home inspector in your area. A qualified inspector will find additional defects of which you are not yet aware. If the builder does not agree to repair all of these, you can file a complaint with the state agency that licenses contractors, or you can file an action in small claims court.
We’ve been very concerned about sloped floors and cracked walls in our condominium and have asked the homeowners’ association to have them evaluated. They called the carpenter/handyman who does most of the repairs in our complex. He said the building looks structurally sound, but we’re not reassured and would like someone with more expertise to review the condition of our property. How should we address this situation? –David
Asking a carpenter or handyman to render an opinion regarding the structural integrity of a building is equivalent to asking a nurse’s aid to diagnose a malignant carcinoma. In either case, a professional opinion would be unreliable, and its rendering would be illegal. Structural evaluations, as with medical diagnoses, can be lawfully and reliably provided only by duly credentialed and adequately schooled individuals. Accordingly, your homeowners’ association should have a licensed structural engineer evaluate the floors, walls and any related irregularities in your home to determine whether the problem is cosmetic or structural.
To write to Barry Stone, please visit him on the Web at www.housedetective.com.
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