Builder Time Limits


How Long is the Builder Responsible?

New homes have sold at an alarming rate due to low interest rates and builder incentives, but how is the quality holding up.

On average 23% of the items found on a re-sale home inspection are items that the builder did improperly. This raises some questions.

Pop Quiz:

Q. When does the builders responsibility to the home owner end?

  • 1. One year from the date of occupancy.
  • 2. One year from the date of completion.
  • 3. Two years from the date of occupancy.
  • 4. Six years from the date of occupancy.
  • 5. Eight years from the date of completion
  • A. 3. 2 years for negligence and Registrar claims (not the same), answer 4, 6 years for breach of express and implied warranty claims, but if not discovered during that time, then answer 5 a total of 8 years after completion.

The State of AZ has said that the builder owes an implied warranty of workmanship and materials and habitability in respect to the home. Kubby v. Crescent Steel, 105 Ariz. 459, 466 P.2d 753 (1970) (habitability) Nastri v. Wood Brothers Homes, Inc., 142 Ariz. 439, 690 P.2d 158 (1984). The state even went further and said that the builder cannot disclaim this even in writing.Hembree v. Broadway Realty & Trust Co., 151 Ariz. 418, 729 P.2d 288 (1986). This applies even if the builder was not building the house originally for resale, such as a model or for himself, Dilling v. Fisher, 142 Ariz. 47 688 P.2d 427 (1984). Even a disclaimer against the very item that is defective contained in the original builders agreement with the first buyer will not affect a successor buyer’s rights against the builder, Nastri, id..


The State has set a Statutes of limitation.

For construction law, there are probably three relevant statutes of limitations.

The first, for torts (like negligence), is governed by  ARS 12-542, is a two year statute.  A home owner can file suit for construction negligence up to 2 years after the date of discovery and a suit for implied warranty or express warranty (the latter where the builder is has issued a written guaranty—yes some actually do that and sometimes it is even more than the 8 or 9 years and thus it runs for as long as it states in writing) for up to 8 years after completion, not more than 6 years after discovery, but up to 9 years if the defect is discovered in the 8th year. Warranty claims allow for attorneys fees and other litigation costs.

 Basically the Registrar of contractors only requires the contractor to come out one time in the first year to repair stucco and drywall, however the registrar requires the contractor to give the buyer a two year warranty on all other workmanship items.

The Registrar can also, CONCURRENTLY, have jurisdiction over the builder for compliance with the Minimum Workmanship Standards promulgated by the Registrar (vastly out of date), but there the only remedy is repair or licensure sanctions. No litigation costs can be recovered even by the winner. In addition, the Standards there are lighter than what are enforced by the Courts.


The second and third  may need to be enforced by the consumer and/or the courts.


The second, an action in contract (for patent defects in workmanship and habitability) is six years pursuant to ARS 12-548.


The third is ARS 12-552, which provides a limitation of eight years after substantial completion of improvement to real property. However if the injury occurs in the eighth year (or was not discovered until then), an action may be brought within one year after the date of injury or discovery of the latent defect.

The law excludes some types of cases:  For example, Where claims relate solely to seeking recovery of monies expended for repairs to alleged defects that have been repaired by the purchaser.


The sooner defects are discovered the easier it is to have them corrected. We always recommend having your new home inspected by a company that will give you the evidence you need to motivate the builder to perform all of the repairs. This inspection my include forensic evaluation, Engineering, thermal imaging (infrared) and more.


This article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to be legal advice. Always consult a legal representative before pursuing legal action.    J. Robert Eckley of Eckley & Associates  provided the information for this article and con be contacted at (602) 952-1177


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