Using Your Home’s Warranty
LESLIE: Hey, Carol. You’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?CAROL: Yes, I bought a new house August of ’08.LESLIE: Well, congratulations.CAROL: No one had lived in it. It had been prebuilt.TOM and LESLIE: OK.CAROL: And shortly after we moved in, we found a big crack in the upstairs bedroom and it went down on both sides of the corner. So the builder just retaped and rebedded it.TOM: And now it’s come back.CAROL: No.TOM: OK.CAROL: Now, downstairs, in the vicinity, we have grout cracks, tile cracks …TOM: Oh, boy.CAROL: … and I’m concerned if it’s a foundation problem because now it’s gone across the butler’s pantry, across the closet and now I have two cracks in the den …TOM: And do you have a ten-year warranty on that house? Was there a warranty from the builder?CAROL: Yes. Yes.TOM: And have you notified the warranty company of the problem?CAROL: I’ve notified the builder and he has contacted his structural engineer. I’ve had another company come out and they say, “Oh, everything is OK.” But I think the builder may have these people in their pockets.TOM: OK, listen. There’s two things that I want you to do. First of all, you need to notify the warranty company. Notifying the builder does not protect you in the event of a warranty claim.CAROL: OK.LESLIE: Yeah, you need to get to the warranty people first.TOM: You absolutely – get your warranty booklet out and take a look at what the claims procedure is and you want to notify the warranty company that you’ve got a potentially serious structural issue with the house so that you’re covered. Because there’s a time – there’s a clock ticking here and if you don’t notify them in the proper timeframe, then you may not get the coverage. So you want to do that.The second thing I want you to do is get your own independent structural engineer to look at this. You’re going to have to spend a little money but that’s the only way you’re going to get to the bottom of that. So you need to find a good structural engineer. You could – one thing I would do is I might call some home inspectors in the area and ask who they recommend for that kind of work and I would get a licensed structural engineer in there to check that out and have them give you a report as to what it is, what’s causing it and what has to be done to fix it. And with that in hand, you can go back to the builder and, possibly, to the warranty company.Now, I will warn you that the warranty company coverage is usually very loose. It definitely favors the builder.CAROL: (overlapping voices) Sure.LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Of course it does.TOM: But you need to make sure that you read the warranty booklet and you need to get that engineer to write his report in such a way as it qualifies whether or not it’s covered by the warranty, if that’s possible.CAROL: OK, very good. I will do that.TOM: (overlapping voices) OK? Alright, good luck. Thanks so much …CAROL: Thank you.TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.