12 On Your Side: Home Warranties

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The builder's responsibility doesn't end when you get the keys to your new home. But at what point, do defects in the new house, become the homeowner's responsibility?

First time homeowner Roslyn Phillips panicked at the sight of cracks in three different places in the walls of her home.

"I almost hit the floor literally when I saw that crack. It's coming down that wall from the ceiling to the floor," Roslyn showed us.

She bought the house in Richmond's historic Blackwell Neighborhood January 2010. It's a milestone purchase for the Hurricane Katrina survivor, made possible by Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority's Hope VI project which creates new housing opportunities for public housing residents.

"I love my home. It's a real nice home," she said.

Roslyn became anxious when both R.R.H.A. and the builder, Hearthside Homes, told her the same thing.

"They've told me my warranty is up and there's nothing they can do," Roslyn explained.

But, those cracks scare her.

"The house is going to fall apart. If the walls keep cracking like they're doing. The house is going to fall apart if it's happening in 2 yrs. It's going to be worst in 5 years, 10 years and I'm still going to be paying a mortgage on a house I can't live in," she said.

Her persistent calls prompted us to come out with an experienced inspector who agreed to check things over from the attic to the crawlspace. Scooter Burgess is with Burgess Inspections, Inc.

"This is one of the areas where she had the worst cracking but I don't see any issues in movement," he said. "I didn't see any settlement on the piers. It was all good wood to pier contact."

The cracks are general maintenance issues inspector Burgess says. The homeowner has to re-tape gaps in the sheet rock and paint.

DAINE: "So, it's minor things, right?"
BURGESS: "Right."
DIANE: "No concern for any structural instability or…"
BURGESS: "I did not see any. No, I did not. It looks like you have a nice home."

Dexter Goode is a real estate project manager who worked with the builder through the Housing Authority.

"There's no more landlord to call. That is now your baby pretty much. Most new home construction will have a 1 year warranty where the builder will come in and give you periods during that one year to call him up and say I have an issue," Goode explained. "After a year has elapsed most of them typically realize that well, it's all my responsibility except for any warranty that apply to the home beyond the one year period of the building."

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