Unlike many states, Illinois does not have a statute that warranties the construction of new homes. Instead, home buyers must rely on several decades of Illinois appellate court opinions to understand their protections against construction defects.
Illinois appellate courts have crafted a number of protections onto the law of contractor warranties. Under existing law, new homes and major additions are covered by an implied warranty of habitability, or freedom from construction defects. All new homes are warranted against structural or other defects during the first year following completion of construction. Any such defect discovered during this one year period must be remedied by the builder without cost to the homeowner. After the one-year warranty expires, structural work on new homes is covered by a warranty that lasts for another 10 years. If a contractor issues a contract that does not spell out these warranties, the warranty period is extended for another 3 years, for a total of 14 years.
Warranty modified by contract
Builders often place language in their contracts that limits their exposure for construction defects to a period less than the court-mandated 10 or 14 year deadlines. The parties often bargain over the length of the modified warranty, and a homeowner who is willing to run the risk of a shorter warranty period can often reduce the cost of the construction.
In cases where the parties have not bargained for a reduced warranty period, arbitration is often used to resolve their differences. Arbitration can be a cheaper and less costly means of resolving these disputes than going to court.
Anyone who is thinking about undertaking a significant home improvement project may wish to review the Illinois construction warranty with an experienced construction attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review a draft contract and explain any pitfalls to the home owner.