Barker Martin

Condo-HOA Blog

Buyer Beware

The Washington Condominium Act (WCA) implied warranties are again under attack by some in the building industry. In the 1990s and early 2000s there was a glut of terrible construction that resulted in huge repair costs and a lot of litigation.  The WCA warranties provided recourse for many owners with construction defects during that time.  The warranties have also forced the construction industry to raise the “industry standard” when it comes to quality construction. Removing such protections would pave the way for a repeat of past mistakes

The construction industry has a demonstrated inability to self-regulate.  Still today, many in the homebuilding industry believe in the notion of caveat emptor or "buyer beware." Purchasers are often told that a one or two-year warranty coupled with a disclaimer of any and all other liability warranty represents the "industry standard." If that is truly the industry standard, then the industry is wrong. When it comes to new home warranties, many builders go to great lengths to disclaim limited protections that purchasers might otherwise enjoy. Many "Express Warranties" are more about disclaiming liability than warranting anything.

The idea that home-buyers have the purchasing power to negotiate reasonable warranty protections is fiction. The fiction is compounded when the home purchase includes "common property" or "commonly maintained property" as is the case with a condominium or non-condominium homes within a homeowners' association. Minimum standards of quality benefit consumers and those builders who are truly committed to building a quality product.