What is a Homeowner's Warranty?

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

The homeowner's warranty must be read thoroughly. Understanding the subtle wording and specific terminology is essential. Every home builder has a distinct homeowner's warranty. It gives the homeowner specific criteria for the performance of the home. Sometimes the warranties have paragraphs that give only limited coverage and other times the coverage is for the life of the home itself.

Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

A homeowner's warranty will cover a wide range of components. It will typically only cover problems that are discovered during the first or second years after a newly constructed home is purchased. In some cases, there is a longer warranty – oftentimes eight or more years – of warranty against structural construction defects.

How the homeowner should make a claim is also typically printed on the homeowner's warranty. Such information is essential for telling the homeowner what to do if a defect is discovered during the warranty period. In some cases, a claim must be submitted to a warranty operations center in writing, in other cases, a phone call is enough. The warranty may also cover emergency services that occur during the first few years of home ownership. These can include plumbing, electrical, or heating failure.

The homeowner's warranty will set out the obligation of the builder and the obligation of the homeowner. For example, it may directly state that if a builder does not determine that a condition is their responsibility, the request for warranty performance can be denied. It may also state that if the builder agrees that a defect is their responsibility, then they will remedy the condition according to the terms set forth in the warranty. It will set forth the standards that will determine whether there is, indeed, a defect.

Other useful information that is included in the homeowner's warranty is the amount of coverage. In some cases, the builder may cover all defects, regardless of the number of requests. However, some warranties may only cover a certain number of defects.

Most warranties will also state the homeowner’s obligations clearly. In general, maintenance of a new home is the responsibility of the homeowner. Every home requires maintenance to prevent deterioration. In some cases, a homeowner's maintenance manual will be available to new homeowners so they can be sure to follow warranty guidelines. In many instances, the warranty will directly state that the builder is not responsible for an owner’s failure to maintain the home.

There are often exclusions to a homeowner's warranty. The exclusions usually list things that can happen to a home that a warranty will not cover. These can include fire, natural disasters, explosions, riots, falling objects, changes to the grading by anyone other than the builder, additions to the home, and any damage from everyday wear-and-tear.

Dee Saale
Dee Saale

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

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