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How Long Is a Contractor Liable For After the Job Is Complete?

If you're getting professional help for a home remodel, you're probably wondering how long the contractor will stay liable after the job is done. That is a common concern. Learn more! 

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When you’re getting your home remodeled, you need to know what you can expect from your contractor after the job is complete. Most home builders and contractors offer some kind of warranty on their work, but how long it’s valid and what it covers will vary, depending on your local laws, the type of job you’re having done and your individual contractor.

That’s why it’s so important to know what warranty coverage a contractor offers before you sign the paperwork to begin a house renovation. You’ll also need to understand your local laws regarding contractor warranties and what the inherent limitations of these warranties are. Finally, it’s never a bad idea to purchase additional coverage for your newly remodeled home in the form of a home warranty.

Understand Your Contractor’s Warranty Before You Sign

Before you sign a home remodel contract with a contractor, make sure you understand what warranty he or she is offering. Most contractors do offer some kind of guarantee on their work, because doing so protects their interests as well as your own. While a contractor’s warranty can protect you, the homeowner, from having to live with shoddy work, it also protects the contractor from having to return to fix things over and over again. Offering a warranty also gives the contractor some reputational protection, as it shows they’re a professional who is willing to stand by the quality of their work.

You should ask for warranty information to be clearly spelled out in your contract, so you know what you’re getting and it’s there for your reference later. You should also make sure you understand the warranty and don’t agree to anything that limits the protections you already have under the law.

Know the Warranty Laws for Contractors in Your Area

In order to make sure that you’re optimally protected by a contractor’s warranty, know the laws regarding builders and contractors warranties in your area. In the United States, contractors are usually liable for implied warranties, which are those understood to exist under the law but that don’t need to be spelled out in a contract. These warranties include the warranty of good workmanship, which implies that your contractor will carry out his work in a workmanlike manner, creating a strong finished product. They also include the warranty of habitability, which implies that the completed house renovation or construction will be safe to live in.

However, these implied warranties are limited by statutes of limitations in each state, which dictate how long homeowners can bring warranty claims against contractors. Statutes of repose also exist in most states, which indicate the length of time for which a contractor can be held liable for his or her work. Statutes of repose can apply different terms to different elements of a job. For example, in California, the statute of repose is four years for most problems, but 10 years for latent defects or problems that aren’t readily apparent. 

Many states also protect contractors with right to repair laws, which require the homeowner to give the contractor a chance to repair faulty or defective work before suing. You should research the statutes of limitations and repose and the right to repair laws in your state, as well as other warranty laws applying to contractors, before you hire a contractor. 

You also need to know that contractors will often try to shorten the implied warranty by offering a shorter warranty term, for example, one year. They’re allowed to do this in some states, but not in others. In any case, this is why you need to know your rights before you hire someone. When you understand your state laws regarding warranty protection for homeowners, you’ll be able to negotiate for what the law says you’re owed.

Protect Yourself 

Finally, you should know that a contractor’s warranty isn’t going to cover everything in your renovation. It’s not going to cover appliances, for example, although they might be covered by a limited manufacturer’s warranty. 

That’s why it’s important to protect your new investment with a home warranty. A home warranty from American Home Shield® will provide coverage for parts of up to 21 home systems and appliances. We have plans and pricing to fit every budget, and you don’t have to show maintenance records to buy a plan or get service. We also have a nationwide network of more than 15,000 contractors, so we can always find the right person for your job — and if we can’t fix your appliance or home system, we’ll replace it up to your plan limits or help you find another solution.

When you get your home remodeled, you need to protect your investment. Empower yourself to keep your newly remodeled home looking nice. Make sure your finished project is covered with a home warranty.

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