Purpose The legislature finds a need to promote commerce in Louisiana by providing clear, concise, and mandatory warranties for the purchasers and occupants of new homes in Louisiana and by providing for the use of homeowners’ insurance as additional protection for the public against defects in the construction of new homes. This need can be met by providing a warranty for a new home purchaser defining the responsibility of the builder to that purchaser and subsequent purchasers during the warranty periods provided herein. The warranty, which is mandatory in most cases, shall apply whether or not building code regulations are in effect in the location of the structure, thereby promoting uniformity of defined building standards. Additionally, all provisions of this Chapter shall apply to any defect although there is no building standard directly regulating the defective workmanship or materials.
Acts 1986, No. 676, §1; Acts 1999, No. 649, §1. §3142. Short title This Chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “New Home Warranty Act.” Acts 1986, No. 676, §1. §3143. Definitions For purposes of this Chapter the following words, phrases, and terms shall be defined and construed as follows:
(1) “Builder” means any person, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, joint venture, or other entity which constructs a home, or addition thereto, including a home occupied initially by its builder as his residence. A person, corporation, partnership, limited liability company, joint venture, or other entity which constructs a home, or any addition thereto, is a “builder”, whether or not the consumer purchased the underlying real estate with the home.
(2) “Building standards” means the standards contained in the building code, mechanical-plumbing code, and electrical code in effect in the parish, city, or other local political subdivision where a home is to be located, at the time construction of that home is commenced, or, if the parish, city, or other local political subdivision has not adopted such codes, the Standard Building Code, together with any additional performance standards, if any, which the builder may undertake to be in compliance.
(3) “Home” means any new structure designed and used only for residential use, together with all attached and unattached structures, constructed by the builder whether or not the land was purchased from the builder. Such term includes structures containing multiple family dwellings or residences.
(4) “Initial purchaser” means any person for whom a home is built or the first person to whom a home is sold upon completion of construction.
(5) “Major structural defect” means any actual physical damage to the following designated load-bearing portions of a home caused by failure of the load-bearing portions which affects their load-bearing functions to the extent the home becomes unsafe, unsanitary, or is otherwise unlivable:
(a) Foundation systems and footings.
(f) Walls and partitions.
(g) Floor systems.
(h) Roof framing systems.
(6) “Owner” means the initial purchaser of a home and any of his successors in title, heirs, invitees, or assigns to a home during the time the warranties provided under this Chapter are in effect.
(7) “Warranty commencement date” means the date that legal title to a home is conveyed to its initial purchaser or the date the home is first occupied, whichever occurs first.
A. Subject to the exclusions provided in Subsection B of this Section, every builder warrants the following to the owner:
(1) One year following the warranty commencement date, the home will be free from any defect due to noncompliance with the building standards or due to other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards.
(2) Two years following the warranty commencement date, the plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, and ventilating systems exclusive of any appliance, fixture, and equipment will be free from any defect due to noncompliance with the building standards or due to other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards.
(3) Five years following the warranty commencement date, the home will be free from major structural defects due to noncompliance with the building standards or due to other defects in materials or workmanship not regulated by building standards.
B. Unless the parties otherwise agree in writing, the builder’s warranty shall exclude the following items:
(1) Fences, landscaping, including but not limited to sodding, seeding, shrubs, existing and new trees, and plantings, as well as off-site improvements, all driveways and walkways, or any other improvement not a part of the home itself.
(2) After the first year, the concrete floor of a basement and the concrete floor of an attached or unattached garage that is built separate from a foundation wall or other structural element of the home.
(3) Damage to real property which is not part of the home covered by the warranty and which is not included in the purchase price of the home.
(4) Any damage to the extent it is caused or made worse by any of the following: (a) Negligence, improper maintenance, neglect or improper operation by anyone other than the builder or any employee, agent, or subcontractor of the builder.
(b) Failure by anyone other than the builder or any employee, agent, or subcontractor of the builder to comply with the warranty requirements of manufacturers of appliances, equipment, or fixtures.
(c) Failure by the owner to give written notice by registered or certified mail to the builder of any defect within the time set forth in R.S. 9:3145. However, the provisions of this Subparagraph shall not be construed to change either the warranty periods enumerated in Subsection A of this Section or the notice requirements provided by R.S. 9:3145.
(d) Any change of the grading of the ground by anyone other than the builder, or any employee, agent, or subcontractor of the builder.
(e) Any change, alteration, or addition made to the home by anyone after the initial occupancy by the owner, except any change, alteration, or addition performed by the builder, or any employee, agent, or subcontractor of the builder.
(f) Dampness, condensation, or other damage due to the failure of the owner to maintain adequate ventilation or drainage.
(5) Any loss or damage which the owner has not taken timely action to minimize.
(6) Any defect in, or any defect caused by, materials or work supplied by anyone other than the builder, or any employee, agent, or subcontractor of the builder.
(7) Normal wear and tear or normal deterioration.
(8) Loss or damage which does not constitute a defect in the construction of the home by the builder, or any employee, agent, or subcontractor of the builder.
(9) Loss or damage resulting from war, accident, riot and civil commotion, water escape, falling objects, aircraft, vehicles, acts of God, lightning, windstorm, hail, flood, mudslide, earthquake, volcanic eruption, wind driven water, and changes in the level of the underground water table which are not reasonably foreseeable.
(10) Any damage caused by soil movement which is covered by other insurance.
(11) Insect damage.
(12) Any loss or damage which arises while the home is being used primarily for a nonresidential purpose.
(13) Any condition which does not result in actual physical damage to the home. (14) Bodily injury or damage to personal property.
(15) Any cost of shelter, transportation, food, moving, storage, or other incidental expense related to relocation during repair.
(16) Any defect not reported in writing by registered or certified mail to the builder or insurance company, as appropriate, prior to the expiration of the period specified in Subsection A of this Section for such defect plus thirty days.
(17) Consequential damages.
(18) Any loss or damage to a home caused by soil conditions or soil movement if the home is constructed on land owned by the initial purchaser and the builder obtains a written waiver from the initial purchaser for any loss or damage caused by soil conditions or soil movement. (19) Mold and mold damage.
C. The provisions of Subsection A of this Section establish minimum required warranties and shall not be waived by the owner or reduced by the builder provided the home is a single or multiple family dwelling to be occupied by an owner as his home. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1; Acts 1997, No. 987, §1; Acts 1999, No. 649, §1; Acts 2001, No. 179, §1; Acts 2003, No. 333, §1; Acts 2004, No. 45, §1. §3145.
Before undertaking any repair himself or instituting any action for breach of warranty, the owner shall give the builder written notice, by registered or certified mail, within one year after knowledge of the defect, advising him of all defects and giving the builder a reasonable opportunity to comply with the provisions of this Chapter. The builder shall give the owner written notice of the requirements of this Chapter at the time of the closing. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1; Acts 1997, No. 987, §1.
Any action to enforce any warranty provided in this Chapter shall be subject to a preemptive period of thirty days after the expiration of the appropriate time period provided in R.S. 9:3144. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1; Acts 2001, No. 179, §1. §3147.
All or part of the builder’s obligation under any warranty required in this Chapter may be insured by the builder for the benefit of the purchaser through an insurance company authorized to transact business in this state. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1. §3148.
Transfer of warranty and insurance
Any warranty imposed under the provisions of this Chapter and any insurance benefit shall automatically transfer without charge, to a subsequent owner who acquires title to the home. Any transfer of the home shall not extend the duration of any warranty or insurance coverage. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1. §3149.
A. If a builder violates this Chapter by failing to perform as required by the warranties provided in this Chapter, any affected owner shall have a cause of action against the builder for actual damages, including attorney fees and court costs, arising out of the violation. The damages with respect to a single defect shall not exceed the reasonable cost of repair or replacement necessary to cure the defect, and damages with respect to all defects in the home shall not exceed the original purchase price of the home.
B. The parties may provide for the arbitration of any claim in dispute. Any arbitration shall comply with, and may be binding only to the extent provided in R.S. 9:4201 et seq. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1. §3150.
This Chapter provides the exclusive remedies, warranties, and preemptive periods as between builder and owner relative to home construction and no other provisions of law relative to warranties and redhibitory vices and defects shall apply. Nothing herein shall be construed as affecting or limiting any warranty of title to land or improvements. Acts 1986, No. 676, §1; Acts 2003, No. 333, §1.
You’ve probably heard the wry old saying: “Nothing clears the mind like the prospect of being hanged at dawn.” For some homeowners, you could add an equally wry modern Lafayette real estate version: “Nothing clears the mind like having a real estate appraiser drop by for a look-see.”
I’d like to counter that notion—there’s really not much to worry over when the Lafayette real estate appraiser is scheduled to make an appearance. The stress level can be lowered by keeping a few simple ideas in mind:
Appraisals aren’t showings. Sure, you want to have the house as spruced up and orderly as you would for any visitor. But your Lafayette property doesn’t have to present the kind of perfection it will for an open house or prospective buyer showing. Experienced Lafayette appraisers aren’t looking for a 100% clutter-free, immaculate show-stopper of a home: they will be concentrating on physical details like square footage and structural and mechanical features. They are more like backstage workers than audience members—but neatness can’t hurt!
Paperwork is a plus. If they are available, dig out any floor plans or location plats you may have filed away. Also, the age of your home is one thing, but updated features can boost the end appraisal value. If you prepare a list of improvements and the years in which they were completed, it will make the appraiser’s job that much easier—and your Lafayette home’s appraisal that much better.
Curb appeal is the exception. Appraisals aren’t showings, but no one—even the professional who prepares your Lafayette appraisal—is immune to the “first impression” effect. Condition is a factor in any appraisal, so it will be worthwhile to be sure the front lawn is mowed and plantings trimmed. If the front doorway is in need of a paint refresher, it will be effort worth making.
Consideration helps. The appraiser’s job is part physical, so being considerate of that part of the appraisal process will be appreciated. Be sure that obstructions are cleared, that rooms are appropriately heated and cooled—and that Lassie and Garfield aren’t allowed to pester.
New good news is good news. If there have been positive changes in the neighborhood, it can’t hurt to let the appraiser know about them. Lafayette may be part of a rising market, but appraisers don’t speculate on future values. Supplying some positive neighborhood developments can be persuasive.
There is another “nothing clears the mind” quote, too: Nothing clears the mind like buying property. That saying isn’t wry at all: it’s absolutely true! If you are setting out on your own Lafayette house hunt, I hope you’ll give me a call to help focus your search. And if you’re readying to sell your own Lafayette property (which puts you in the soon-to-be-visited-by-the-appraiser category) the same applies. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call!
Ted M. Daigle
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