Imagine that your new home is a new car. Would you drive it off the lot without a warranty?
That's what sometimes happens with new homes in Georgia, because builders are not required to offer a warranty on the houses they build.
Many builders will offer to make repairs for up to one year after the home is built. But unless the fine details are in writing, it's up to the builder to make good on his word.
There are also insurance companies, such as 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty. Their flagship product is the 2-10 warranty that for around $500 will insure a home for up to 10 years. But these are insurance companies whose purpose is to make money, not to satisfy the homeowner by paying out on claims.
In the first year, the insurance basically covers systems and workmanship, "something as simple as a nail pop, to flashing falling off a roof," said Jimmy Dickey, vice president of marketing for 2-10 HomeBuyers Warranty, a company based in Aurora, Colo.
The second year includes coverage of systems, such as plumbing, electrical and heating and air. But beyond the second year, the policy only covers structural damage, "if the house falls down," Mr. Dickey said.
Tom Werner, president of Pierwood Construction Co., past president of the Metro Augusta Homebuilders Association and board member of the Homebuilders Association of Georgia, said he requires customers to take out the 2-10 warranty before he'll build.
"In our case, 95 percent of our customers we don't have a problem with," Mr. Werner said. "If they review the warranty at closing and live by that warranty, we will not have any problems with them. Expectations have to be in line. We try to make everyone 100 percent happy, but we recognize also that if you get 95 percent, you're doing a pretty good job."
On every home built, there are going to be minor cosmetic flaws that a builder will have to come back and repair; that's expected. But with customers who are just too picky, the warranty helps to keep their demands in line, Mr. Werner said.
For example, the 2-10 warranty, which uses Housing and Urban Development standards, requires a wall to be viewed from 6 feet away to determine if any paint flaws can be seen.
"You can't get up there 2 inches away from the wall," Mr. Werner said. "Out of 100 (people) there are only a couple that are like that; however, those couple seem to yell the loudest."
Whether the builder provides his own warranty, or the warranty is purchased from an insurance company, the warranty's standards provide protection for the builder and the homeowner. And with a third-party warranty, an inspector is also involved to mediate any disputes.
" I wouldn't buy a house without a written warranty," Mr. Werner said.
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.