A warranty should be included in the construction contract so that there is less chance for dispute about what is covered and when.
What is an Express Warranty?
Warranties come into play at the end of a project, but in the case of written (express) warranties, it is important to know at the beginning of the project what obligations are included and, just as importantly, when those obligations begin and end. Ideally, a warranty will be issued as a separate document, and a sample of that document should be incorporated as an exhibit in the construction contract so that there is less chance for dispute about what the warranty covers and when. Additionally, material suppliers often issue their own standard warranty that might not comply with a contractor’s or subcontractor’s contractual requirements.
On longer or more complicated projects, the difference between a warranty period beginning upon completion of a subcontractor’s work versus the completion of the entire project, or upon substantial completion versus final completion, can potentially mean a difference of many months of coverage, if not years.
Express Warranty vs. Implied Warranty
In the absence of an express warranty, Florida law provides for implied warranties that can apply to construction work, such as the warranty of habitability and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. Express warranties often include limiting language meant to exclude these implied warranties and limit warranty obligations. They also often include procedures for notifying the contractor or supplier of the warranty issue.
Warranty Period and Statute of Limitations
The timing of when suit can be brought on an item covered by warranty is often misunderstood. Many contractors believe that they cannot be sued for warranty items past the end-date of the warranty period. This is incorrect. For example, the statute of limitations on construction defects is generally 4 years. If a limited warranty is for a period of 1 year, then any warranty item discovered within that 1-year period is covered by warranty. However, after discovery, the owner has 4 years to file suit to recover on that construction defect.
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