How Do Contractors’ Warranties Work to Protect Homeowners From Poor Quality Work?


Renovating your home is no easy feat. The process can often be complex and present a number of obstacles along the way. That’s why enlisting the services of an experienced and reputable contractor to take care of the job for you is an absolute must.

If all goes well, the job should go smoothly, and you’ll be very pleased with the final result. But what if major issues occur after your contractor and all the trades have packed up their tools and moved on to their next client? And what if these problems occur long after the job was completed? How long is your contractor responsible for rectifying any work that wasn’t performed up to par?

That’s where the warranty comes into play.

Why a Warranty is So Important

The whole reason for the existence of a warranty is to protect you – the homeowner – as well as the contractor who performed the work. While these professionals should assume responsibility for fixing any problems related to the work performed, they also don’t want to be a target forever.

Before you sign a contract with your contractor, make sure there is a warranty included. Read the details about what’s covered and how long the warranty is in effect before it expires.

The warranty basically outlines the issues that the contractor is responsible for after the job has been completed, as well as the solutions that should be employed to rectify them. It should also specific how long the warranty will last and how any issues should be dealt with.

What Does the Law in California Say?

In California, there is a one-year implied limited warranty for new construction and renovations, which means it doesn’t have to be outlined in the contract, but instead is understood that it already exists under the law. If a problem arises after work has been completed, you will need to file a complaint within one year.

Before that, you’re required to first notify the contractor in writing about any issues that have come up following completion of the work. If the contractor responds in an appropriate amount of time and makes the necessary repairs, there is no need to go any further.

However, if the contractor doesn’t respond or is unwilling to make the necessary repairs, a complaint can be filed in court. You may choose to file a complaint with the Contractor’s State License Board instead, which will look into the issue and hopefully resolve it.

Under California law, contractors need to include a warranty in the contract that provides a guarantee that all materials that are used for the renovation project are not defective. Not only that, they must also guarantee that their work is in compliance with building codes. If a material is damaged because of shoddy installation, the contractor could be on the hook to cover any costs associated with making the necessary repairs for four years after the project is completed.

Contractors are also obligated to resolve any problems related to structural issues, which are covered under a mandatory 10-year warranty according to California law.

Written Warranties From Your Contractor

California homeowners are fortunate to be protected under legally required warranties. However, any written warranties that contractors offer override the implied warranty under California law. This is an important concept to grasp. Not only that, by signing a contract with the contractor’s own warranty, you are essentially waiving your rights to the implied warranty under the law. Once both you and your contractor sign the contract, this warranty will be legally enforced.

The contractor’s warranty will include the time period that is covered, how different products and materials will be assessed, and the process that should be taken if an issue comes up.

The Bottom Line

If you choose the contractor’s warranty over the implied warranty under the law, make sure to negotiate for a long time period. In addition, inquire about any materials or products that come with their own extended warranty that’s backed by insurance providers for added protection. Last but not least, thoroughly check out the contractor’s track record and make sure the work they’ve previously performed is up to snuff so that the odds of needing to activate a warranty are significantly reduced.