Work Warranty Guide: What to Know Before Your Next Project

Margaret Wack
Written by Margaret Wack
Updated September 10, 2021
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A work warranty lasts for one year for most remodeling projects

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After completing a major renovation or home improvement project, the last thing you want is an unexpected issue or breakdown. A work warranty helps protect homeowners by covering anything that was damaged because of work done incorrectly. But how long does a contractor have to warranty their work? While one year is a typical length for a work warranty, it can vary, and most states leave it up to the contractor.

What Is a Work Warranty?

If you experience any unexpected issues after construction has ended on a home renovation, like issues with your home’s floors or foundation, electrical system, or plumbing, a work warranty covers the cost of repairs. A work warranty is generally considered a “work and materials” warranty, because the contractor agrees to provide labor and supplies needed to correct a problem during the designated period. Contractors often expect to return to address a few issues, such as caulking that cracks after it dries.

What Is a Typical Work Warranty Length?

How long does a contractor have to warranty their work? While an average work warranty lasts about a year, warranty length can vary by state and contractor. Contractors who want to retain client goodwill may honor a work warranty for longer than the specified time.

Work Warranty Coverage

While home warranties cover a variety of post-construction issues and repairs, they don’t cover everything. Here are the ins and outs of warranty coverage after a renovation.

What a Work Warranty Covers

Usually, a work warranty will cover anything that was damaged because of incorrect work, such as cracks in a floor or surface that wasn’t properly installed.

What a Work Warranty Doesn’t Cover

However, work warranties don’t cover materials or appliances that fail on their own. Those are covered by manufacturer warranties. You may want to ask your contractor if they will provide labor to remove a failed appliance or fixture that is replaced through a manufacturer warranty.

Work warranties usually don’t cover damage a homeowner causes, but it could still be worth asking the contractor to take a look if something breaks after an accident in the kitchen or bathroom. For instance, if you knock something off the kitchen counter and it cracks a floor tile, you may have to pay for the repair. 

But by contacting the contractor, you may learn that the tile cracked because there wasn’t enough mortar beneath it. In that case, an honest contractor should take responsibility to fix the mortar and replace the tile.

If you choose your own fixtures or materials for a project, a contractor may not be willing to warrant any work required if those failed, such as water damage caused by a leak stemming from a defective faucet.

FAQs About Work Warranties

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Should I get a warranty in writing?

As with any other important aspect of a major home project, it’s important to know what to expect with a warranty and to get the details down in writing. This can help prevent confusion down the line.

How do I find a reputable contractor?

Ultimately, a work warranty is only as reliable as the contractor you’ve hired. That’s why trust and reputation are such important factors, in addition to having a solid contract and confirming appropriate licensing, insurance, and bonding. When looking for a contractor, it’s a good idea to read online reviews and ratings to see what kind of experience past customers have had. Issues with your contractor can make for an unsatisfying renovation process, but a reliable contractor can make the process go as smoothly as possible.

What’s the difference between a work warranty and a home warranty?

While a work warranty covers contractor repairs post-construction, a home warranty acts as a safety net against future breakdowns and unexpected expenses. Home warranties provide discounted repairs and replacements for essential home systems like plumbing and electricity in exchange for an annual fee.

While home warranties can provide a welcome safety net to some homeowners, they’re not a guarantee. The cost of a home warranty might not always be worth it. Other homeowners may be better off stocking away those funds in an emergency savings account in order to cover the cost of unexpected home repairs.

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