Q: I purchased a new home and am having problems with a leaky roof, along with other problems. The builder refuses to take care of the problems. Who should I contact?
A: If you purchase a new home, and there are issues with that house, the first thing you should do is seek help from the builder.
Your contract or some of the other documents you received at the closing should tell you exactly how you’re supposed to deliver notice of any issues you have with the house. Did the builder give you a warranty? Typically, you’ll need to deliver notice of any issues you have with the home in writing and deliver it to the builder by certified mail, return receipt requested or by some other means to insure that you have a record that you send the notice and that the builder received the notice.
But if the builder refuses live up to the terms of the warranty, or did not give you a warranty but still refuses to fix your problems, you’ll need to explore your other options.
One option is to see if you have other rights under the laws of the state in which you live.
Another option is to determine if there are any other warranties that are provided by the manufacturers of the products used in your home. See if you can find out the brand of the roof shingle manufacturer and the name of the company that installed the roof. Frequently, the manufacturer of the roof will stand behind their product if the product was installed properly and the installer may also back its own work within a certain time after the installation. If you have that information, you can see if they will be willing to make the repairs.
For other items, like appliances, that may have a manufacturer’s warranty, you can call the manufacturer of that product to see what options are available to you.
If you can’t find any information on the products or the companies that made the installations, you might try to find a contractor in your area to give you an estimate to determine what it will cost you to make the repairs.
If the cost is minimal, you might decide to make the repairs yourself. If the costs are large, you will then have to decide on what to do next.
Your options include complaining about the builder to your local building department with the hope that it can put pressure on the builder to fix your issues. You can also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. If you file the complaint, at the very least, other buyers will be put on notice that this builder has unresolved complaints against his or her company.
In addition, you can hire an attorney to sue the builder. Litigation is expensive and at times it is cheaper to make the repairs than undertake the cost of litigating a problem. In some states, you may be able to sue the builder in small claims court and hope that you can maneuver through the intricate procedures of the legal system.
A real estate attorney who specializes in new construction ought to be able to help you further.