Many clients have come to Smiley Law Firm after having issues with the builder of their new home. TheLouisiana New Home Warranty Act (NHWA) is a one-stop-shop for Louisiana residents looking to resolve legal disputes with their homebuilder, as the NHWA provides the exclusive remedies, warranties and peremptive periods between builders and owners of new homes. La. R.S. 9:3150.
What is My Builder Warranting?
The NHWA requires a builder to warrant the following:
- for one year after the warranty commencement date (the date when legal title to the home is conveyed from the builder to the initial purchaser of the home or the date the home is first occupied, whichever occurs first) the home will be free from any defect due to noncompliance with the building standards or due to other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards;
- for two years after the warranty commencement date the plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, and ventilating system (not including appliances or fixtures) will be free from defect due to noncompliance with the building standards or due to other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards; and
- for five years after the warranty commencement date the home will be free from major structural defects due to non compliance with the building standards or due to other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards. La. R.S. 9:3144
What makes something “defective” under the NHWA?
A defect under the NHWA includes work that is non-compliant with building standards and other workmanship issues that are not regulated by building standards. La. R.S. 9:3143. “Building standards” include mechanical and electrical codes or any additional performance standard which the builder may undertake to be in compliance. Id. These broadly defined terms give new home purchasers a great deal of protection from faulty work.
What is My First Step?
Before anything is done, the new home purchaser must put his or her homebuilder on notice of any defect in the newly built home.
The NHWA requires that before an owner makes any repairs himself or files suit for breach of warranty, he must send written notice, by registered or certified mail, advising the builder of all defects and giving the builder reasonable opportunity to comply with the NHWA. La. R.S. 9:3145. Any defect not reported in writing to the builder prior to the expiration of the warranty is excluded from the protection of the NHWA. La. R.S. 9:3144. Accordingly, it is critically important that you list every defect that you are aware of in your letter to your builder.
When Should I Provide Notice to My Builder?
The NHWA provides that any action to enforce a warranty provided by the NHWA is subject to a peremptive period of thirty days after the expiration of the warranty. La. R.S. 9:3146. This means that you have 30 days beyond each respective warranty to file suit enforcing the warranty.
For any defect in the home to be covered, suit must be filed within one year and 30 days of the warranty commencement date. For defects in electrical, heating, cooling, and ventilating systems, suit must be filed within two years and 30 days of the warranty commencement date. For major structural defects, suit must be filed within five years and 30 of the warranty commencement date.
One other important provision of the NHWA to note is that for any of these warranties, you must provide your written notice of any defect to your builder within one year of become aware of the defect. This means that if you become aware of a major structural defect on the first day you move into your home, you must provide written notice of that defect to you builder within one year, even though the builder is required to warrant against major structural defects for five years.
It is important for anyone purchasing a new home to be aware of the rights and protections afforded by the NHWA. The home buyer needs to know that before they hire a contractor to repair defective work, or pursue legal action, they must provide written notice of any defective work to their homebuilder. The notice must include every single defect that the homeowner is aware of or the defect may not be protected by the NHWA. Once written notice is provided, the home buyer is free to have the work repaired and may pursue legal action against the builder.