Is that One Year Warranty Really Just One Year?


Commercial and public construction projects typically have a one year warranty provision . . . often steaming from the “standard” established by consensus contract documents such as the AIA or ConsensusDocs families of documents. But does that really mean a contractor or supplier is only on the hook for deficient work or defective materials or equipment for only one year? Typically no.

Leaving aside for another time discussion of the fact that warranties can, for the most part, be effectively disclaimed, if there is an express warranty for one year, there is still a continuing time period during which suit can be brought for the warranty breach that took place during that one year of warranty. For verbal contracts that enforcement period is three years and for written contracts it is five years.

There are also some different rules for residential construction and condominium construction, but generally that means the one year is not a hard and fast date as many think. There are many implications to this, including respecting document retention to preserve either claims or defenses. Also, again, much of this can be changed by contractual agreement, including limiting the enforcement period as well as the warranties or warranty periods themselves.

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