Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When a Life Time Warranty isn't a Life Time Warranty.

In choosing a Foundation Repair Company, a big part of that decision is their warranty.  As I've stated in previous posts, the warranty is not always an "apples to apples" scenario.  Every company has "terms and conditions" of their warranty, and as a purchaser of goods, make sure you are informed as to what you are buying in terms of warranty.  We will look at some of these terms and conditions, and try to make sure you are informed of what they are really saying.

Listed below are examples of common Terms of Warranty, and a translation of what this means.

1) What the work is designed to do.
The contract will read something similar to "The work performed under this contract is in attempt to stabilize the foundation, and prevent future settlement from occurring."It will then go into how much movement under this warranty is allowed before a warranty re-adjustment is necessary.  Every company is different.

Why is this important?  This should be a fair balance of protection for both the contractor AND the customer.  As we've stated before, piers can move.  If your warranty states that basically they are allowed to move past the point that your home was at before repair in order to heed a warranty repair, then what's the point of the warranty?

The Catch?  What do you do when the contractor you hired never took an elevation reading on your house?  How do you prove how much it moved? How do you KNOW how much it moved?  Without any data, what do you have to go off of?

2) What they are going to do about it.
If the movement of your slab has exceeded the allowable limits under the warranty, what do they do about it?  Are the adjustments free? Do they charge for adjustments? Is there a limit to how many times they adjust them?

Why is this important? If the company is charging to re-adjust the work they just installed, are the really guaranteeing their work?  If seen warranties that actually charge MORE to readjust the work they installed, then they charged to install it.  To me, that is a guarantee that the piers will fail, and they are going to charge you to re-adjust them.  Some warranties will read: Adjustments needed from years 1-2 = free.  Years 3-5 = $100.00 per pier. Years 6-10 = $200.00 per pier.    Make sure you read this and understand it before you sign this contract.  Ask your contractor for their rate of warranties.  Ask them for their warranty work process. Make sure you know what you are purchasing.

Also, what about the ancillary portions of the repair work?  Are they going to recharge you if they have to re-break your concrete?  Are they going to charge you if they have to re-tunnel piers?  Are they going to re-test the plumbing once they lift it again?   Make sure you know, and have in writing, exactly what their warranty covers.

3) How is it done?
Some companies will come and "re-adjust" off the tops of their pier work.  While this will get the house back to level, it is only a temporary band-aid and does nothing to solve the issue as to why it is actually sinking.  Are they inspecting the piers to make sure they are performing properly?  This should be done, to keep a problem from becoming persistent.  Do they have a plan if these piers fail to do their job?

4) Are they there to service a warranty, or are they trying to sell you more work to cover their losses?
I have done many warranty inspections.  There are times where it is as simple as the piers failing.  There are times where movement has come in other portions of the foundation, and additional work is needed.  I find it interesting how I get calls from customers because they called the original company for a warranty inspection, and ended up with a tab higher than what they originally paid to do the work.  If you question this, you might want to hire a structural engineer to clear the mud.  Another foundation repair company is not always the way to go.

5) Does their warranty transfer?
The answer most of the time is yes, but, what is the underwriting?  What is the time frame in which it has to be transferred, what is the process, and what is the fee?  I've seen many occasions where buyers lost their warranty from a previous company because they never transferred the warranty to their name.  Most companies have a 30 day period, from the time you buy the house, to contact the company and transfer the warranty.
Most companies also have a processing fee to transfer the documents.  Some of these are negligible ($100) and some of them are ludicrous (I've seen transfer fees as high as $2,500.00).  When I see outstanding fees just to transfer the warranty, I ask myself why they are discouraging people from doing so.  To me, this is another red flag about the quality of work that was done, and if they actually stand behind the work they do.

Please make sure that you read the warranty before you sign it. If these things are not in the document you are given, make sure that you clarify before signing that agreement, and get it in writing.  It can save you a lot of headaches and confusion later on down the line.

Once again, thanks for reading, and if I can help you in any other way please let me know.


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