Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Warranties When the Contractor Abandons the Job

About a month ago, a woman walked into my office, and she said that her contractor told her that he would not honor his warranty unless she gave him a good reference. It seems like, of late, that homeowners are extremely concerned about the warranties provided by their contractors. What if something fails over time? Who is going to address problems that arise?

Let's face it. Good contractors honor their warranties. In fact, for you contractors out there, here's a tip: warranty your workmanship for life. A contractor I know says, why not? I have complete faith in my workmanship. There is no reason not to give a lifetime warranty


When a contractor abandons the job, it is unrealistic to expect that he or she will honor his warranty. It is not unusual for problems to develop as months pass. That is why it is important not to bring a claim before all of the damages are discovered. When claims are filed initially, it is important to factor in the value of the warranty and the likelihood of something going wrong when making a demand.

Once the relationship between the parties has broken down, the homeowner should assume that he has lost any warranty provided by the contractor other than those that are passed on from the manufacturer. The homeowner should do his best to reduce his damages by documenting the issues and then preventing further losses (if water is leaking into the house, you can't allow it to continue leaking and create a more extreme problem in order to pursue further damages against the contractor).

If you are extremely concerned, it may be worthwhile to have an independent home inspector come in and review the work. In my experience, this usually increases the estimated amount of damages and is worth the expense.

Rather than being worried about whether warranties will be honored, think about whether you would want your contractor back if he has abandoned the job. Factor the price of future repairs into a potential settlement figure, and then move in. It is not worth it to stay in a bad relationship where you will doubt the workmanship ofrepairs done at your home.

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