Purchasing a new home is a huge financial, time, and emotional investment. You choose your homesite, you may even choose the design of your home, and then you spend months watching and waiting for it to be built. Of course, we all hope to move into our new homes, settle in, and have the pleasure of living in a brand-new, maintenance-free home for years to come, but what happens if you find an issue?
Construction defects aren’t something anyone wants to deal with, but they can happen. The good news is that buying a new home means you have a warranty on your home, so you won’t be left footing the bill for a warrantable repair, as you would if you bought a used home.
What is considered a construction defect differs from state to state, so it’s important that you understand what counts, what doesn’t, and what the statute of limitations are for making a claim for a construction defect in Arizona.
What is a warranty period on a new home?
The warranty period is typically broken down into several phases, with the builder’s responsibility lessening over time. Years 1 and 2 are governed by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors and this is where the bulk of your warranty exists and expires after two years.
In the first year, the builder is responsible for repairing any defects in workmanship or materials. This includes the structure of the home, along with the HVAC system and plumbing and electrical systems.
In year 2, the builder is responsible for repairing the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, along with the structure of the home.
In years 3-8, the builder does reamain exclusively responsible for some latent defects which may include structural issues.
What qualifies as a construction defect in Arizona?
A construction defect in Arizona is defined as a deficiency in the design, construction, or materials used to build the home that results in the failure of a component or system. This typically looks like:
- Design defect: an error in the design, such as water collecting where it should be draining, or a code violation.
- Construction defect: a leak in the roof, around windows and doors, an issue with the foundation or structure of the home, or an electrical or plumbing issue.
- Material defect: the chosen materials were inferior for the job, and so have already broken, become stained, or cannot do their job sufficiently.
If I find my home has a defect, what happens next?
If you find your home has a defect, you need to tell the builder, in writing, so you have proof of notifying them, just in case you have any issues with them down the line. The builder will then have a “reasonable” amount of time to respond. They should then inspect the work and provide a solution. The solution can be fixing the problem or providing compensation.
In most cases, they’ll step up and fix the issue without any significant back and forth, but if you find their response unsatisfactory, you may need to take things further legally.
Does the new home warranty transfer to a new owner?
Yes – the warranty is for the home, not the buyer. So, if you only live in a home for 2 years, the remaining warranty is in place for the new owner for the remaining 6 years of the warranty.
If you discover your new construction home has a defect, and you believe you are within the statute of limitations for the issue and the problem fits into one of the above categories, then make sure you notify the builder as soon as possible. Don’t worry if the statute of limitations is running out – as long as you notify them properly within the time limit, they will need to put the issue right.