How much warranty should you have on a custom built home

Quality is a subjective measure. Of course, so are characteristics like affordability, beauty, sustainability, and so on. What do you do when a home builder tells you their work is premium quality? Do you believe them?

How do you know you’re on the same page — that your version of “quality” is similar to theirs?

Large builders, short warranty periods

It’s understandable if you’re skeptical. In fact, perhaps you should be. Large national builders have undergone scrutiny for setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars each year to handle or defend against defect claims on brand new homes.

Investigations by major news outlets have uncovered far too many horror stories from homeowners who are now battling builders, in suits or arbitrations, over extreme water damage, foundation issues, extensive drywall cracking, and more.

Most of these large national builders, who build thousands of homes each year, offer a 1-year warranty. Which isn’t much. A homeowner will live through exactly one of each of the four seasons in their new home, and then the warranty period is over. It’s not enough time for most problems to make themselves visible.

And — this question is for you — is one year really enough of a guarantee on a product that could, or should, outlive you? Either way, the majority of builders will only offer a 1-year warranty. Of course, they do this primarily to save money and shirk responsibility.

But it’s a buyers’ world — really

Bluestone owner Kevin Reed explains, “We have the confidence that we build homes that won’t have issues.” In other words: we stand behind our work.

But Bluestone is a little different than a large national builder. We’re big enough to have a wealth of in-house expertise, and small enough to pay attention to the details. We don’t build thousands of homes a year. Companies that work at that scale are more likely to cut corners, skim over trouble spots, turn a blind eye. Or, at least, to feel hesitant about offering a warranty that’s actually worth something.

We also think a longer, 3-year warranty is aligned with consumer expectations today. Think “no-hassle returns” and money-back guarantees. The digitalized age we live in has its flaws, but the amount available for consumers today has made it a buyers’ world. You no longer have to rely solely upon what a company might say about itself, or on a friend or family member’s experience. Simply go online. Testimonials and review sites are rampant. Business that put out low-quality products can be quickly degraded, and we think this is a good thing.

However, it’s not quite the case yet in the home building market. Many aspiring homeowners will prioritize cost over other considerations. This isn’t wrong, but it can be dangerous, leading homeowners to poor-quality builders. Focusing too much on finding a good deal can also make it easy to overlook details about a company such as their reputation, building processes, commitment to quality, etc.

Which brings us back to this question of “quality.” How do you know a builder has a similar vision of quality to yours?

Reasons a builder would offer a 3-year warranty

A home builder with a longer warranty period is essentially saying that their work is to be trusted. What gives a builder this level of confidence? In the case of Bluestone, we can list a few good reasons.

  1. We build properly. We employ and contract with seasoned tradespeople who know their craft. If you’ve ever been on a home building site run by a larger builder, you’re likely to find at least a few novices or workers who know a very narrow set of skills. Everyone needs to start somewhere. But do you want them learning on your home? Our crews also know how to prepare materials properly. Tasks like painting the ends of boards (to seal them prior to installation, reducing their absorption capacity and therefore insuring their integrity for longer) might get skipped over on a time-pressurized job site run by a larger builder — but not at Bluestone.
  2. We use quality materials. We are always on the lookout for good materials that will last and be easy to maintain. This isn’t easy. There are a lot of choices, vendors, and products. But we’ve been around long enough to know the gold among the dross. We understand what kinds of characteristics to look for, what questions to ask a manufacturer, and which materials may just not work at all. For example, we’ve had architects come to us wanting to build with stone or stucco, which are reservoir-cladding (i.e. hold a lot of water), and we know this can cause problems with the build. Which brings us to our last point…
  3. We manage water well. We are adamant about proper drainage and flashing, and following best practices for water management in home building. If you didn’t already read out some of the horror stories mentioned earlier, the risks of not managing water properly are very high. Condensation, leaks, cracks, caving, rot. We’ve done enough remodels to see it all. Brick lain right up against the chimney, missing drainage mats, shortcuts that produced small problems that turned into huge problems. It’s scary stuff, and you don’t want it lurking behind the walls for years without you knowing it.
  4. We’re award-winning. Check out some of our latest, which include the 2018 Best in American Living™ Award and the North Carolina Home Builders Association Stars Award for Best Single Family Home Between 4500–6000 sf, in the news section of our site.

How does our warranty work?

It’s easy. We offer it to our clients after any work we perform. If an issue arises, our clients simply request service or notify us directly. Our platform allows clients to even attach pictures or videos to a request.

We get notified of each request immediately. If an issue is a water leak or anything else that’s quite urgent, we’ll be there to remediate within an hour. If the issue is nonurgent, we schedule a time in the near future that works for our clients, to perform the work needed.

Many of our clients are so pleased with our warranty that they also opt for ongoing maintenance with Bluestone for home care post-warranty. Learn more about our maintenance plans here.