How Long Are Builders Responsible For Construction Defects?

Question: Four years ago we purchased a new home in Mesa. We received a one-year written warranty from our homebuilder. In the last few months some of the stucco has started falling off the outside walls of our home. We have been told by a licensed contractor that we have major stucco damage, and that all of the stucco may need to be replaced. When we contacted our homebuilder’s sales agent she said that the only obligation that the homebuilder had after closing was under their one-year written warranty to repair construction defects. Do we have to pay now for the repair of this major stucco damage that we have only recently discovered four years after we moved into our home?

Answer: Probably not. Most homebuilders give a written warranty of one or two years to repair any construction defects occurring during the first one or two years of home ownership. This written warranty is similar to a written warranty from a tire or battery manufacturer to the purchaser. Unlike tire and battery manufacturers, however, under Arizona law a new homebuilder also is subject to an implied warranty for at least eight years to correct any defective construction of a home. A.R.S. § 12-552.
Note: If there is a construction defect discovered in the first two years after completion of the home, the homeowner also has the right to file a complaint with the Registrar of Contractors (“ROC”). Although the ROC cannot award money damages to the homeowner, the ROC will inspect the home and will require the homebuilder to correct any construction defect. If the homebuilder does not correct the construction defect, the ROC can issue administrative sanctions against the homebuilder, including loss of the homebuilder’s contractor’s license.

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