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The Contractor's Express Warranty Obligation

Saturday, January 03, 2004 11:49 am

The Contractor's Express Warranty Obligation

It is common, even customary, for construction contracts to include a 12- month warranty of the material and workmanship. The terms of the warranty are quite straightforward. The contractor warrants that the work is free of defects and conforms to the terms of the contract. Upon timely notice from the project owner, the contractor agrees to return to the site and remedy the problem. But despite the apparent simplicity of the warranty, a number of questions arise regarding the scope and duration of a contractor's warranty.

Scope of the Warranty

Many warranties expressly exclude coverage for damage or defects caused by abuse, insufficient maintenance, improper operation, modification, or normal wear and tear from use. Even when these exclusions are not expressly stated, they are generally recognized in the case law.

In one case, the owner modified the method of feeding effluent into wastewater storage tanks. One tank was overfilled and ruptured. The contractor had no warranty obligation due to the owner's modification of the work. Interwest Construction v. Palmer, 886 P.2d 92 (Utah App. 1994); CCM March 1995, p. 6. In another case, the doors in new student barracks were cracked and split. The owner could not force the contractor to replace the doors under the warranty because the problem resulted from abuse [...]

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