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Warranty of Workmanship and Habitability

Here are some commonly asked questions regarding what qualifies for you to be able to use your Warranty of Workmanship and Habitability.

Question:  What rights does a buyer hold when the home they purchased from a seller begins to show signs of soil settling (when the soil decreases in volume often times due to the water evaporating out of the soil) which causes structural defects to the property?  Additionally, what if the seller originally purchased the property from a builder?

Answer:  Unless the seller knew or should have known about the soil settlement and failed to disclose it in the SPDS or other documentation in the transaction, there is not much that can be done against the seller.  However, the buyers may have a claim against the home builder if it has been less than eight years since the construction.

Under Arizona law, any home builder or vendor impliedly warrants the construction of a home to be done in a “workmanlike manner” and that the “structure is habitable.” Columbia Western Corp. v. Vela.  This implied warranty provides that the home will be free from construction defect for a period of eight years following the completion of the home.   To show the builder actually breached the warranty a showing of “reasonableness” is required.  The homeowner will have to show that the workmanship performed was below the standard of “reasonableness,” for the quality of work typically done by another worker of average skill and average intelligence in the industry.  Note this requirement is not for “perfection.” Nastri v. Wood Bros. Homes Inc.

The Arizona courts have repeatedly held up that this implied warranty of workmanship and habitability are not only available to the original purchase, but that it applies to all subsequent purchasers of the property within the eight year time frame. Richards v. Powercraft Homes, Inc.

 Question: What if any obligations or warranties are implied by other skilled tradesmen?

Answer:  Arizona law protects homeowners who hire and employ tradesmen such as contractors, both general and subcontractors, that they shall warrant the work they perform to be done so in “a workmanlike manner” subject to the same standard of “reasonableness” as required by the homebuilder. Buchanon v. Scottsdale Envt’l Construction.  Therefore, whether a homeowner – or subsequent purchaser – is having a repair, remodel, or complete new construction performed for them, there is an implied warranty of workmanship and habitability that attaches to all such projects.

If you or a client believe to have a claim for a builder or contractor’s breach of the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability, before filing a suit to enforce the warranty you need to first try to work through the builder or contractor.  The courts have repeatedly required the parties to mitigate their dames prior to bringing a suit.  Therefore, contacting the builder and/or contractor, informing them of the issue, and requesting they come take care of it as part of their implied warranty is the first course of action.  If the builder and/or contractor refuses, you should then seek the advice of an attorney and possibly prepare to bring suit in an Arizona court of local jurisdiction.


This post was written by Jason Wells, Esq. & Chris Niederhauser, Esq., partners at the Wells Realty & Law Groups. Please submit question requests to info@wellsrealtylaw.comIf the issue is pressing, by all means please just call them at (480) 428-3290. ..