Typically if you buy something with a warranty, it means it’s guaranteed for a certain amount of time. Buy a computer with a one-year warranty and it breaks? The company will fix it or give you a new one.
But when it comes to new construction homes, Washington State’s implied warranty is something quite different. Builders in WA have a large lobby, and in reality, the implied warranty in WA is pretty flimsy. Builders love to say that there’s a one-year warranty on your home and they’ll fix things during that time, but the only things that they really NEED to fix are related to habitability.
That is a high bar! This means that whatever is wrong in your home has to be so bad that it’s actually preventing you from living there.
While we’re not in the business of giving legal advice, if you can live in the home and you went to court because you have an issue that you want the builder to fix, you might not win. Based on the way that the law is written, you have a high burden of proving that there’s something that makes the home not livable. This might include things like the heating system not working, plumbing that doesn’t work, roof leaks, etc.
In other cases, the builder might have a warranty where they stipulate the exact nature of each component of the home and what has to go wrong in order for them to take the problem seriously. We love these builders because at least they go into the situation with their eyes wide open! For example, in this type of warranty, maybe the builder says if there’s a crack in the foundation that more than an ⅛ of an inch, they’ll come and fix it within the 1-year warranty.
There’s also balancing what home issues are the builder’s fault and what are normal wear and tear. Is concrete going to crack? Yes, always. Equate it to a car: Cars eventually break and get damaged, and that is something you expect. Homes are not mass produced; they contract and expand, and there is always going to be some type of problem to deal with.
So… should you purchase a warranty for your home?
There are warranties you can buy, and the most common type is a 2-10 home warranty. 2 = 2 years of coverage for major issues, and 10 = 10 years of coverage for structural issues. A quick search for this type of loan will reveal that they’re not a great deal, so whether or not you get this type of loan is up for debate!
In the end, your best protection and “home warranty” is to work with a real estate agent who can help you identify whether or not a home has a GOOD builder who did an excellent job on each component of the home. You might also want to have a budget for fixing smaller issues after closing, because there are bound to be a few things that you would like changed!