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Four Steps for Dealing With Homebuilder Warranties

BY Richard Montgomery TIMEMarch 29, 2022 PRINT

I have a home that’s 2 1/2 years old, and I have a situation in which my master bedroom stays colder than all the other rooms. It’s very noticeable in the winter. To be comfortable, I use a portable heater to warm up the room before bed for my wife and me. I addressed this issue with the builder before our 1-year warranty, and they did send out a company that ran some tests and said that the airflow was in range. They did go into the attic and made an adjustment, but the problem still exists. I’ve called the builder a few times and explained the situation to the receptionist and was told I would get a return call. Still, no one has returned my call. What can I do to have the builder fix this issue?

Monty’s Answer: You have two problems: The cold room and the builder. The most effective way to ask for assistance from a home builder is to be face-to-face. Using the receptionist is not working. The larger the company, the more difficult it is to get face-to-face. The builder likely believes it is a minor problem because the report back to the builder reflects the representative’s opinion.

There are multiple reasons the bedroom could be cold that the company representative missed, including the weather the day the representative did the testing. Rather than speculate on the cause, here is a course of action to consider to rectify the main problem.

No. 1: Compose a short letter (return receipt requested) to the builder that states the problem still exists. Tell them you suspect they haven’t responded because they felt it was a minor problem. Still, you don’t agree with the representative’s assessment. Ask them to send the original furnace installer for a second opinion because the room is still considerably colder. Tell them you would like a call from the installer within two weeks to set an appointment to re-inspect.

No. 2: If you do not get a response to your appeal, you have two options: Stay with your portable heater or contact a reputable HVAC company to get a second opinion. One way to qualify contractors is their length of time in the business along with good reviews. The young age of your home may cause them to charge you to review the situation. The way you describe the events, I suspect you will not get a call from your builder.

No. 3: Once the HVAC company responds with their solution, if the explanation is logical, less than $500 to $800 and is guaranteed, you may want to have them proceed and solve the problem. My experience with contractors is that they may all have different solutions and prices if you seek three opinions.

No. 4: Ultimately, you will find the solution and pay a contractor. The cold room problem is solved.

Now you face a second decision. If the cost is high (over $500 to $800) and the contractor that corrected the problem will state in writing on the invoice that the builder erred, then you may want to consider bringing your builder to small claims court. Check with your attorney first.

Richard Montgomery is the author of “House Money: An Insider’s Secrets to Saving Thousands When You Buy or Sell a Home.” He advocates industry reform and offers readers unbiased real estate advice. Follow him on Twitter at @dearmonty or at DearMonty.com. Email him at monty@dearmonty.com.
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