FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – June 24, 2016 – Question: I’m having a home built, and the closing is in two weeks. Although our formal walk-through is next week, I’ve already identified several items that need correction or repair. If the builder refuses to make the appropriate repairs/corrections, what recourse do I have? – Ed
Answer: Before you buy an existing home, you should hire a professional inspector who will point out problems or repairs that need fixing. The same should hold true for a newly built home. It’s important to identify every issue or concern that you have prior to completing the sale.
You also need to carefully review your contract for the timing and procedure for reporting and correcting any issues. These contracts are much more complicated than the standard home-sale contract. Your builder likely will have the option to correct the problem before the closing or after – but you still should look over the work and get a promise in writing to fix anything else that needs attention.
Your builder should be responsible for fixing mistakes, but there probably was no guarantee in the contract that the tile floor or moldings, for example, would look exactly as you expected. If something is broken, it should be fixed, but your builder is required only to build to a certain workmanlike standard, not to change every little detail to your heart’s content.
Finally, minor issues that need to be corrected are not a reason for you to unilaterally delay the closing. If you do this, you run the risk of losing your deposit.
About the writer: Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation.
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