Buying or building a new home in East Tennessee should be an exciting time for you and your family. But after you move into your new home, you may realize that not everything is as it seems. You may notice cosmetic issues, such as poorly installed flooring, or something more serious, such as structural problems or faulty wiring.
Not only are you not getting what you paid for—a well-built home—but the value of your home has most likely been affected as well. And depending on the type of construction defect in your home, you and your family might be living in a potentially dangerous situation.
What’s a Builder’s Warranty?
Chances are, you were given a builder’s warranty that covers any construction defects and problems with your home’s structure. However, every builder’s warranty is different, which means you must read your warranty carefully to understand what’s covered, how the builder plans to remediate any issues, and the duration of your warranty. Furthermore, some home warranties may not cover common construction defects or they may have a dispute resolution clause. While some contracts may require arbitration rather than suing the builder in a court of law, the state of Tennessee requires that this type of contractual clause regarding the construction of residential property must be additionally signed or initialed by the parties involved. (TCA §29-5-302).
If you discover a problem with your home’s structure because the contractor and/or builder failed to meet Tennessee’s standard of care for contractors, then you may be able to bring action against that builder or contractor. The state of Tennessee’s statute of limitations for basic negligence regarding new construction is three years from the date of completion and provides one extra year of repose should you discover a problem with your new construction in the third year of your ownership (TCA §28-3-105).
What Constitutes a Construction Defect?
Typically, building defects are considered to be any condition that reduces the value of your home. Construction defects can be in your home’s design, materials, or the quality of workmanship—such as windows that don’t open because they were improperly installed or a leaky roof due to cheap roofing materials. Defects also can be related to land settlement and your home’s structural integrity—such as cracks in the foundation or walls.
If you believe your home has a construction defect, you will most likely need to hire an independent expert to examine your home and assess any potential defects. It’s important to have a knowledgeable expert who can easily pinpoint and assess potential residential building defects.