We’re offered warranties all the time – on our plane tickets, on our appliances, on our cars – you name it. And often, we pass them up. Sometimes the cost is just too high and we think “no thanks, it probably won’t break anyway. Besides, it’s brand new!”
But if you’re building a new home in Virginia, every new home is required to be warranted by the builder. And for good reason! Poor workmanship is a lot bigger of a deal than a glitchy iPhone or a car that prematurely breaks down.
The tricky thing about home warranties is that, when you really read down into the fine print, you see that each component of the warranty is a bit different, so it’s important to do your homework (and let a professional take a look) so you know what exactly you can expect if something cracks, leaks, or breaks down the road.
Here are the cliff notes:
Materials: This is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine what might happen that would require you to whip out that warranty and go knocking on your builder’s door. Virginia law requires at least a year long warranty for the materials used to build your home.
In the case of material claims, there’s often question as to whether the material or product itself is the issue or whether poor installation is to blame. In cases where the builder warranty has run out but the product itself is still under warranty, there’s often a bit of “not me!” that goes back and forth as to who is responsible for replacing or repairing the item.
Structure: Your home’s foundation is warranted for five years at least, though many builders elect to provide a 10 year warranty option on structural components like framing, roofing, or floors. Often though, these 10 year warranties decrease in value over time, so read carefully!
That said, a 10 year warranty is still better than the Virginia mandated 5 year warranty, and most builders that feel confident in their product will offer this option, feeling confident that their homes will last way beyond the life of the warranty.
Systems: HVAC, electrical, garage doors, etc are usually warranted through the individual manufacturer. Often, these warranties cover individual components or parts of each system, rather than the system as a whole.
Generally, these warranties need to be registered, and in the case that a repair is needed, there are certain qualified contractors who must be used in order for the warranty to cover the costs. When you take ownership of your new home, ensure that your builder has provider all of the manufacturer warranty cards for your systems and appliances, then fill them out immediately and mail them in.
This is one of the big perks of a buying a brand new home, as resale homes are generally old enough to have outgrown their warrantability. But in order to truly capitalize on those perks, you have to know what your warranty (or warranties) dictate!
Most builders will walk you through it all before you actually close on a home, but make sure you do your homework before that meeting, and then again after when you’ve been provided some context. The final key here is to keep that warranty in mind! We can’t tell you the number of times we’ve had clients forget that certain products or systems are still under warranty and then end up paying out of pocket. Don’t let that be you!
Rather than paying for an independent home inspector to check out your house when it is completed we advise that you wait to get that inspection about 10 months after you have owned it instead. Now you can easily go back to your builder with a list and request any necessary repairs to be done before your 1 year warranty is up.
For more on new home warranties, what to expect, or what red flags to look for, reach out to us, we will be glad to advise.