Whether you are building a new home, buying a new home, or a residential construction contractor, there is one Louisiana law that you should know: The New Home Warranty Act (“NHWA”).
The NHWA provides the exclusive remedies, warranties, and peremptive periods between a builder and owner relative to home construction. The NHWA provides a warranty for new home purchases and defines the responsibilities of the builder during the warranty periods.
What warranties are provided?
- 1 year: For one year following the warranty commencement date, the builder warrants that the home will be free from defects due to noncompliance with the building standards or other defects not regulated by building standards;
- 2 years: For two years after the warranty commences, the builder warrants the plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems or other defects not regulated by building standards; and,
- 5 years: For five years following the warranty commencement, the builder warrants that the home will be free from major structural defects, including foundation systems, or other defects not regulated by building standards.
However, the builder’s warranty will exclude certain items, including, but not limited to: fencing, landscaping, insect damage, bodily injury, and mold damage.
The homeowner is also required under the NHWA to give written notice to the builder by registered or certified mail within one year of knowledge of the defect. Failure to give this required notice may forfeit any claims the homeowner may possess against the builder.
Once notice is given to the builder, if the builder fails to perform as required by the warranties, the owner may bring a claim against the builder for damages, including a claim for attorney fees. This cause of action must be brought within 30 days of the expiration of the applicable warranty period. The damages available to a homeowner cannot exceed the reasonable cost of the repair of the defect, and cannot exceed the original purchase price of the home.
While the NHWA provides certain “bright-line” rules and clarifies the rights and remedies available when a problem arises with new construction, litigation of these claims and the defenses provided to builders can present difficult issues. When an issue arises, you should consult an attorney experienced in this area of practice.