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Understanding Warranties: A Deep Dive into Express and Implied Guarantees in Contracts

On Behalf of | May 13, 2024 | Construction Law

When engaging in any agreement, especially one as significant as a construction contract, understanding the warranties provided can give you a keen insight into your rights and remedies should something go wrong. Warranties serve as your safety net, ensuring that you get what you pay for and that any work meets certain standards. But what happens when these promises aren’t kept? Let’s explore the two main types of warranties and the potential remedies available in such cases.

Express Warranties: The Clear Commitment

Think of express warranties as explicit promises — the ones that made you nod in agreement and sign the dotted line. They are the specific assurances the contractor has put down in black and white within your contract, guaranteeing the quality, materials, workmanship, and timeline of the project. These warranties might take the form of detailed descriptions in your agreement, specifying, for example, that only premium materials will be used or that the construction will be completed by a certain date.

Express warranties might also stem from the contractor’s marketing materials, sales talks, or any other representations they’ve made during the pitch of their service. If your contractor has promised through a brochure or a sales presentation that their new building installation will last for at least ten years, that’s an express warranty you’re counting on.

Implied Warranties: The Unspoken Promise

Even when not spelled out, certain assurances are so fundamental that the law simply implies their existence. These are known as implied warranties. These warranties are present because they meet the standard, reasonable expectations one would have. For instance, if you hire a contractor to build a house, you would expect that house to be safe and livable — hence, an implied warranty of habitability exists.

This category also encompasses the implied warranty of workmanlike performance — a presumption that services will be provided with skill and care customary to the profession. It’s not something you’ll find written down, but it is a legal safeguard ensuring that the work will be performed to a certain standard.

Remedies for Breach of Warranty: Holding the Line

If a warranty is breached, it does not equate to a breach of the entire contract. Instead, it triggers specific remedies designed to make you whole. Here’s what you can typically expect if your contractor has failed to uphold their end of the warranty bargain:

  1. Repair: The most straightforward remedy is often for the contractor to repair any issues with the work that don’t meet the agreed-upon standards.
  2. Replace or Rebuild: In more severe cases, where a simple fix won’t do, the contractor may need to replace or rebuild the flawed segment of the project to bring it up to snuff.
  3. Compensation: If there’s a decline in your property’s value due to the breach or you’ve suffered inconvenience, or if you need to bring in another party to correct the defects, you may be entitled to monetary damages. This can include the difference in value between the work as warranted and the work as performed, the cost of repairs by a third party, or other consequential damages you’ve incurred.

While warranties might not be the cornerstone terms of your contract, they are far from inconsequential. They represent foundational expectations of quality and functionality. If you suspect a breach of warranty, it’s vital to pursue your rights promptly and explore the full array of options available to you, often starting with legal counsel to understand the nuances of your situation.

Navigating breaches of warranty can be as intricate as the construction projects they often involve. As every project and situation carries its unique complexities, the keen advice of an experienced professional is indispensable in translating these assurances into the quality and peace of mind you rightfully expect.