Home Construction

Statutory Warranty

Authored by: Messick Law PLLC

Minnesota Statutes Chapter 327A provides warranties that cover construction of a new dwelling or major home improvement projects.  As in many other areas of law, the applicable statutes of limitation can serve as major obstacles to obtaining relief from construction defects in Minnesota. Depending on your circumstances, some or all of the following limitations periods may apply to claims in your case.

For new home construction, the warranty period begins from the statutory “warranty date.”   This date is established by a certificate of occupancy from an inspecting authority, or on the date on which the owner takes title to the home. The warranty period may depend on the type of defect for which warranty repairs may be required.  

A Contractor is required to guarantee that during a one-year period the dwelling shall be free from defects caused by faulty workmanship and defective materials due to noncompliance with building standards. There is a two-year warranty that covers defects caused by faulty installation of plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems due to noncompliance with building standards. Further, there is a ten-year warranty period under which dwellings shall be free from major construction defects. Minnesota statute defines a “major construction defect” as actual damage to the load-bearing portions of a dwelling which affect, or are likely to affect, the use of the dwelling for residential purposes.

In addition to new home warranties, Minnesota Statutes also cover home improvement work involving major structural changes or additions to a residential building. The home improvement warranty periods essentially mirror those covering newly constructed homes. There is a one-year period for defects caused by faulty workmanship and defective materials, a two-year period covering the installation of plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, and a ten-year period covering major construction defects.

The Minnesota legislature enacted a home warranty dispute resolution process. Homeowners and builders or home improvement contractors are required to employ the process before a homeowner warranty dispute may proceed to litigation under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 327A (unless the parties agree to use an alternative dispute resolution mechanism). The dispute resolution process is administered by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

Because the time period within which a homeowner must provide written notice to their contractor is short and defects are not always obvious, it is important to act promptly when something goes wrong. Likewise, contractors may attempt to avoid litigation or construction defect claims by being responsive to homeowner questions complaints. However, “Working with the builder” may, or may not toll (pause) the Statutes of Limitation.   If there are legitimate defects, which may fall on the shoulders of the subcontractors, contractors often prefer to address the issue without filing a claim with their insurer. In the case of new home construction, many builders have good relationships with home buyers, and they will check-in with the homeowner during the first year of occupancy. Even if a builder does not have a scheduled walkthrough, it’s recommended that homeowners keep a written list of items that aren’t meeting expectations they would like addressed.

Contact Messick Law PLLC today to discuss your situation or if you have a dispute.

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