How to Resolve Problems that May Arise with Your Builder
The typical house contains more than 3,000 different parts. These components must be assembled with skill to form the new product you will call home.
It would be unrealistic to expect your new home to be perfect. Even the best built homes are likely to need a few corrections.
Most problems are corrected routinely by the builder. However, if a non-routine problem should arise, you should follow certain procedures to correct the situation. Always refer to the Residential Construction Performance Guidelines, available at www.Builderbooks.com. This is the standards for residential construction.
First, identify the exact nature of the problem. Then you should put it into writing and send it to the builder. Many builders require all complaints to be in writing and will respond to telephone complaints only in emergencies.
Use the following guidelines when you write your letter:
- Include your name, address, and home and work telephone numbers.
- Type your letter if possible. If not, use printing or handwriting that is easy to read.
- Keep your letter brief and to the point, but include all relevant details. State exactly what you want to be done and how soon you expect the problem to be resolved.
- Be reasonable.
- Include all relevant documents regarding the problem.
- Send copies, not originals. Keep a copy of the letter for your files.
- Before you write your letter, familiarize yourself with your warranty coverage. If a problem develops after the warranty has expired, the builder is not required to fix it under the terms of the written warranty. Some items, such as appliances, may be covered by manufacturers’ warranties and are not the responsibility of the builder.
- Always go directly to the builder with your complaints. Do not send letters to lawyers, government agencies, home builders associations or any other third parties before you have given your builder a reasonable chance to correct the problem. Interference from outsiders may impede the handling of your complaint.
- Also, sending angry, sarcastic or threatening letters is not likely to expedite your case. Such letters usually do more harm than good.
- Contact outsiders only if you have reached an impasse with your builder. Try to avoid legal proceedings. Lawsuits are expensive and time-consuming and should be attempted only as a last resort.
Remember that most builders are seeking customer referrals and repeat buyers. They want you to be satisfied. If a problem develops, remain calm and approach your builder in a reasonable manner. By following the procedures described above, chances are that you will be able to resolve the problems.
New homeowners with questions or concerns involving construction methods, practices, materials and techniques used to construct a home should:
- Carefully read the contract to establish how construction issues are to be handled.
- Contact the home builder through the mail and by telephone to clearly explain the situation.
- Document all contact with the home builder
- Take photos of the situation and send copies to the home builder.
- Be prepared to hire a third party inspector.
Homeowners may also want to call the enforcement jurisdiction to verify inspections were made for code compliance. Questions might include:
- Which building codes and amendments are used?
- Which inspections are performed on the home during construction.
- Will the city dispatch an inspector to examine the situation and give an opinion based on local building code requirements?