If you have worked in home construction for any amount of time, you probably learned quickly how important the contract is between you and the homeowner. The contract defines your role and obligations to the customer as well as the expectations and responsibilities of the person who hired you. Essentially, you promise to do excellent work before the deadline, and your customer agrees to pay you the full amount on time.
You may also offer your customers a warranty. For many contractors, the warranty allows them to give a sense of confidence to their customers and relieves them of liability once the warranty expires. However, under Texas law, that might not always be the case.
Every job you do carries an implied warranty. These are the most basic expectations a homeowner has when hiring a contractor to do any kind of work. Construction laws demand that you do the best work you can using quality materials and that you know of no defects that would make the building unsafe or uninhabitable. You do not need to include these in your contract or warranty because they are universally agreed upon.
Nevertheless, your warranty may simply place a limit on the time during which your customer may file a complaint about a defect. However, if there truly is a defect in the construction, a one- or two-year warranty may not protect you from the liability. In fact, a true defect may be cause for your customer to file a breach of contract complaint since the defect may be the result of breaching the implied warranty in your contract.
Most states, including Texas, place a limit on the amount of time that can pass before a homeowner can no longer claim breach of contract or breach of warranty. To ensure that your warranty allows that limit on claims, you will want your contract to include clear language that bars all claims beyond the period of the warranty. If language setting a claims limit merely refers to warranty claims, you may be liable for construction problems well past the warranty’s expiration.
This may be a delicate matter of wording. It is crucial that both your warranty and your contract abide by state and local laws as well as provide adequate protection for you and your construction company.