New Jersey provides new home owners with a warranty under New Jersey’s New Home Warranty and Builders’ Registration Act (“HOW”). The Act provides that newly constructed homes must conform to certain construction and quality standards and provide buyer of the new home with insurance-backed warranty protection in the event any of the standards are not met. Simply put, the Act provides that every new home sold in New Jersey comes with a warranty.
Builders of new homes must register with the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs to be permitted to engage in the business of building new homes. Builders are then required to provide a three-tiered warranty program which provides coverage and protection against defects.
Warranty coverage extends to defects caused by faulty workmanship and defective materials during the first year of ownership. The one year begins to run on either the first day of occupation or the settlement date, whichever is sooner. Additionally, during the first two years new home owners have a warranty that covers defects caused by faulty installation of heating, electrical, plumbing, and cooling systems. The Act, however, does not extend the coverage to appliances beyond the warranty provided by the manufacturer. Finally, the Act provides for warranty coverage to major construction defects of the home for ten years.
At first glance the Act appears to provide homeowners a cost-savings means of resolving disputes concerning construction defects. However, in reality the Act makes it difficult for homeowners to resolve construction defects. For example, “major construction” defects have been interpreted by the courts very stringently. Generally, the act affords no protection unless the new home is practically collapsing. Additionally, common problems such as leaks, mold, and excessive settling are not covered.