NEW HOMES: The Shrewd Homebuying Guide
How to Improve Warranty Service from your Builder
Most of those who have owned new homes have, at some time, been frustrated by a lack of service from their builder. In most cases the problems either arise from a breakdown in communication or understaffing problems. Builders generally want their customers to be happy with their purchase; it’s in their best interest. However, it’s sometimes easy for a builder to overlook what may seem a trivial problem, especially if he/she is burdened by a busy construction schedule or closing deadlines.
How do you get your builder to respond to your needs? Generally it’s pretty easy, and only involves keeping good records and the specific details of your problems. If you can make the builder’s job easier, you are more likely to get a positive response to your warranty or punch-out issues.
One of the most important aspects of receiving good service is to avoid creating confrontational situations. Sure, you may know that the builder used inferior materials or workmanship; but getting in his/her face about it only serves to alienate the builder or builder employee. Always try to remain calm and avoid being argumentative. State your case clearly, with as many details as possible.
Then, ask for specific times for completion. If the builder needs to check with subcontractors or suppliers, ask for a follow-up call on a specific date. And try to be as flexible as possible with your schedule. While it may be inconvenient to have to take a day off from work to meet repairmen, it’s far better to do so than to delay the repair longer than necessary.
Finally, for those whose builder seems unwilling to deal with your problem, there are a few tips I can offer. First, contact the local building authority and explain your problem to them. Builders must deal with these offices for the issuance of new permits and inspections of work in progress. While the building authority may not have the power to force the builder to make your repairs, they don’t want to be bothered by the problem and may pressure the builder just to get the issue to go away. Remain in contact with the building officials until the problem is solved, and thank them if they are able to help resolve your problem.
A last option for the most flagrant customer service problems is to picket in front of the neighborhood or model home. While many are not willing to take such a drastic approach; for those builders who are still trying to sell homes in your neighborhood, it is a tactic that can generate success. I would caution anyone considering this tactic to check to see if there are ordinances that may limit how the picketing is to be done; and it must be done off the builder’s property. It is also vital that anything you write on a sign or repeat to potential customers be truthful. It’s usually best for such signs to state nothing more than, “Ask me about the customer service I received from Builder X.” Then, when talking to anyone do not slander or say anything that is untrue. This approach usually gets a quick response from a builder.