by Wayne Parsons of Wayne Parsons Law Office

The more expensive the purchase, the more important the warranty is to most consumers. A home is the most expensive purchase most people will ever make. A lot is at stake in home warranties, so don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Some companies sell home warranties like extended warranties on cars. This article is limited to the standard warranties from the home seller or builder.

When buyers move into a home, the seller gives them a folder of warranties. These are called “express warranties.” Read this paperwork carefully. This article’s most important tip: read the warranties carefully. A warranty is a promise or guarantee. The warranty may be for a product in the home (i.e., a dishwasher, a material used like flooring, roofing or paint) or the home itself.

The warranty is always for a certain number of years. In some instances, warranties may use the word “lifetime.” People equate the length of the warranty and the scope of warranty coverage with the quality of the product, service or house. That may not necessarily be true. Think about a “lifetime” warranty on anything. How long is a lifetime? Whose lifetime? Your lifetime? The lifetime of the product?

The following are some initial questions to ask:

  • What parts of the house does the warranty cover?
  • How long does the warranty last?
  • What are the exceptions or limitations of the warranty?
  • What acts or omissions by the homeowner “void” the warranty?
  • What entity is guaranteeing the warranty? Is the warranty backed by a bond or insurance?
  • Will anyone be around throughout the warranty term to honor it?Be aware that many companies use warranties as sales and marketing tools and have exceptions and limitations in the warranty that will allow them to void most claims. Many warranties require specific periodic maintenance, often using particular companies. Failure to comply may void the warranty. Many warranties for materials only cover the cost of delivering the product, leaving the homeowner to pay for installation, which is often 90 percent of the repair cost.