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How Long Does a Contractor Have to Warranty Their Work?

Contractor Tips , Posted by Nicole Zemaitis on

How Long Does a Contractor Have to Warranty Their Work?

Contractor warranties are essential for any home construction or renovation project. These agreements act as insurance for the client, protecting them if the work in their home falls short. With a home project warranty, the contractor is responsible for any faults that don’t satisfy the original agreement. 

However, there are limits on the coverage period for these warranties. These limitations establish a reasonable timeframe so that a contractor is not liable for defects that arise well after the project.

So how long should this guarantee last? This guide will take you through everything you need to know about project warranty, including specific laws and regulations based on your state.

How Long Is a Contractor Liable for Defects After Jobs?

When working in a client's home, you need to make sure the paperwork is foolproof, including full disclosure of warranty agreements. The legal documentation protects the contractor and the client. A critical element of this guarantee is the coverage period. 

How long a home contractor is liable for faults varies greatly, as they often set this parameter for themselves. This duration can also apply to implied warranties, which refer to legal guarantees understood without the need for explicit reference. These could include appropriate behavior from workers within the home, the creation of a functioning product, or the safety of the completed product. 

Most states have a statute of repose, which provides finality in the contractor’s obligation. Without this statute, a client could attempt to hold the contractor liable even 20 years after the project. 

The duration may differ based on the state. The statute of limitations on guarantees can also vary within the same state, based on specific work criteria. For instance, California enforces a four-year statute of limitations for most problems, but this extends to ten years for latent defects in the home. Understandably, there is some room for confusion as there is considerable variance between guarantees. 

One misconception is that contractors are only liable for defects for one year afterward. This phenomenon, referred to as the one-year guarantee, is a misnomer. Consumers rarely have coverage exclusive for a single year (though it is possible), and most states will offer coverage for longer when it comes to implied guarantees. 

Any contract you present to a client must thoroughly explain the warranty. The devil is in the detail, and you don't want to get caught out with a lawsuit from an unhappy customer. Knowing the regulations specific to your state is essential. 

Laws and Regulations You Need to Know in Your Area

Warranty law varies by state, which can make things a little complicated. As we don't know where you are reading this from right now, we will try to cover all bases! Luckily, some general rules apply to multiple states.

In many states, the law stipulates that the home project warranty is down to the contractor. However, there are exceptions to this, and nuances do apply.

An example enforced by law is statutory warranty. These warranties exist to prevent seller fraud, wherein a seller may complete inefficient work within the home and then claim no responsibility when it ultimately falls apart. A typical example of this is a warranty for construction materials. If there is a product defect, the consumer has the assurance of protection. 

Two other examples include express and implied warranties. 

Express Warranty

This warranty refers to any verbal or written agreement by a seller or contractor. It guarantees the quality of the product or service at the time of manufacture or installation. 

An express warranty often dictates that any faults that occur within the coverage period entitle the buyer to a refund or replacement. 

Implied Warranty

These terms are state-mandated, tacit agreements rather than a written agreement by the seller or contractor. This coverage guarantees that the product or home appliance will work as advertised. These warranties usually have a limit of four years.

In some instances, a contractor can void this agreement if they explicitly disclose that the sale of the product or work completed is ‘as-is.’ It essentially means that the consumer gets precisely what they pay for. Any faults that emerge afterward are not the contractor’s responsibility. 

The implied agreement is usually unique to each contractor, so make sure the terms are clear before starting work in the client’s home. 

However, this isn't the case everywhere. Selling products or services ‘as-is’, thus waiving the guarantee, is illegal in the following states:

  • The District of Columbia
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • New Hampshire
  • West Virginia
  • Mississippi
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Connecticut
  • Minnesota

Contractors in any of the above states cannot claim ‘as-is’ sales. If you work outside of these states and employ an ‘as-is’ policy for products or home services, ensure your client understands the precise terms. 

When in doubt, check your state regulations on implied guarantees. They may provide you with more coverage than you realize.

The Bottom Line

Before building your clientele and taking on new construction work, you need to know the ins and outs of writing contracts and adhering to state regulations. At Contractor Training Center, we provide all the training resources you need to become a licensed contractor. From exam preparation to varying state accreditation, we have everything you are looking for to improve your craft.