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Construction Warranty Claims Attorney
in Lafayette, Louisiana
After the pandemic and its lockdowns forced the construction of new homes to ease up, in 2021, there were 1.601 million new housing starts nationwide, the highest total since 2006. Through June of 2022, nationwide housing starts rose again, this time at a rate of 13.4%.
The surge in housing starts, and the rise of value in existing homes for sale, show that there is a solid demand for residences, but in the rush to build, are shortcuts being taken that may later reveal themselves as defects of one sort or another?
We’ve all heard of “lemon” laws that protect buyers of new automobiles against defects that render the vehicle unsafe or unreliable, but are there similar laws for buyers of newly constructed homes or office buildings? The answer is yes. There are implied and express laws covering construction work, but there are limitations and qualifiers for each.
Louisiana has statutory and implied warranty protections for those who purchase new homes or buildings that fail to meet construction standards or have defects in workmanship.
Sometimes, just notifying the contractor may be enough to trigger a warranty claim, and in other cases, you may have to take the contractor to court. Let the knowledgeable team at LeJeune & Associates handle your claim for you. We will attempt to pursue whatever action is necessary to restore your home or building to original and acceptable specifications. We proudly serve clients in Lafayette, as well as in Iberia, St. Martin, Jefferson Davis, St. Landry, and Acadia, Louisiana.
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What Is a Construction Defect?
Construction defects generally fall into four court-recognized categories: design deficiencies, material deficiencies, construction deficiencies, and subsurface deficiencies. In practical terms, these deficiencies can reveal themselves as:
Thermal and moisture protection
Doors, windows, and glass seals
Understanding Warranty Claims
As mentioned above, new construction in Louisiana is covered by both implied and express warranties. Louisiana Civil Code Section 2769 states: “If an undertaker fails to do the work he has contracted to do, or if he does not execute it in the manner and at the time he has agreed to do it, he shall be liable in damages for the losses that may ensue from his non-compliance with his contract.”
Liability for damages is generally interpreted to mean that the contractor (“undertaker” in the code) must pay the cost of repairing any defect. At the same time, however, Louisiana law protects the contractor if they faithfully carry out the project according to the plans and specifications provided.
Louisiana also has enacted the New Home Warranty Act (NHWA), protecting against “any defect due to noncompliance with the building standards or other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards.” The warranty is effective when the home buyer receives title to the property or moves in, whichever comes first.
The NHWA contains three time periods for recovery under the warranty. For defective workmanship or materials, the warranty extends for one year following title/occupancy. For defects in the plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, and ventilating systems, the warranty extends for five years. For major structural problems such as a failing foundation, the warranty is also five years.
Implied vs. Express Warranties
The New Home Warranty Act is an express statute since its provisions are spelled forth in the law itself. Civil Code Section 2769, though written, is somewhat of an implied warranty since its wording is so general. However, Louisiana Civil Code Section 2762 – “badness of workmanship” – is more specific:
“If a building, which an architect or other workman has undertaken to make by the job, should fall to ruin either in whole or in part, on account of the badness of the workmanship, the architect or undertaker shall bear the loss if the building falls to ruin in the course of ten years if it be a stone or brick building, and of five years if it be built in wood or with frames filled with bricks. “
This section of the civil code clearly covers the responsibility of the architect and the contractor to provide a finished product that will withstand the test of time, ten years if built of stone or brick and five years if in wood or wood frames filled with bricks.
Other types of warranties that often come with new construction include:
Material and equipment warranties: That the work and materials are property constructed and functional.
Call-back warranties: Generally provided by the contractor for one year after construction. If a problem is found, the contractor will repair or restore it to functionality.
Vendor warranties: Roofing and appliance warranties are examples of vendor warranties not generally included in an overall warranty, such as a call back.
Design-build warranties: Covering the design of the building and professional services behind it, such as architects and engineers.
How a Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help
Claims for defects in workmanship, materials used, products, engineering, and design problems can be confusing. Under which express or implied warranty are my problems covered? Timeliness is also an issue. If the defect surfaces two years after occupancy, is it still covered?
An experienced construction defects attorney can help you sort through the thicket of warranties, implied and express and can help you recover for your losses due to defects.