Notify builder in writing about new home's defects


Dear Mr. Azrael:

My husband and I bought a new home about 14 months ago.

At the time of purchase, we were promised a "one-year walk-through." We have been trying to obtain this service for about three months. The builder refuses to call us back, or, when we do finally get through, they usually answer our questions with a "we will have to get back to you," and they never do.

Finally, one person told us that we would need to call the private contractors ourselves to try to get the work done. I do not know the names of every person who built this house, and since the builder did some of the work himself, I am not sure who to turn to.

There are still items on our list that should have been fixed during the first walk-through, such as a broken window frame, window screens that do not fit, and missing kitchen cabinet frames.

Can you help us?

Dear Reader:

You should send the builder a written list of all known defects in your home.

The list should be accompanied by a letter to the builder, stating that you insist that the listed defects be corrected by a certain date (within 30 to 60 days). Your letter also should advise the builder that if the defects are not corrected in a good and workmanlike manner, you will pursue all available legal rights. This letter could get the builder's attention and get him to make the repairs.

If the builder still does not complete the repairs you requested, your will need to obtain an estimate from another contractor to correct the deficiencies. You can then sue the builder to recover the repair cost and, possibly, lawyer's fees.

Your legal rights against the builder may be based on:

Article 10 of the Maryland Real Property Code, which provides that newly constructed residential dwellings must be delivered free from faulty materials and constructed in a workmanlike manner. These implied warranties may encompass defects such as broken window frames, window screens that don't fit and kitchen cabinets without frames.

Your contract of sale with the builder, which also might require the home to be built according to designated plans and specifications or in conformity with the plan and materials of a model home. If the defects deviate from the requirements specified in your contract, you can claim that the builder has breached the contract.

The legal requirement that homebuilders disclose whether they offer or provide a new-home warranty program. If you received such a warranty, you should read your booklet and carefully follow the claim procedures. The warranty company might have to correct defective work when the builder is unable or unwilling to do so.

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