In production tract housing and condominium construction, the builder should have a clear policy regarding customer service repair work after the expiration of the standard-of-the-industry 12-month warranty period.

A definite cut-off day…after which no customer service repairs are made…other than that which comes under legal statutes such as structural defects…should be established and followed by the builder…after close of sales escrow or after the homebuyer walkthrough.

Some homebuilders are determined to provide good customer service that they continue to accept customer service requests from homebuyers who have been in their houses for over one year.

This approach makes it confusing and difficult for the onsite customer service repair persons…and the subcontractors…who only warranty their work for 12 months.

If a particular homebuyer…whose warranty period has expired…gets the customer service department to responds to a repair request…what then happens when the same or other homeowners in the project attempt to call the plumber, electrician, or HVAC subcontractors to come out for service repairs…because of the precedent of the builder still responding to minor cosmetic repairs or other problems noticed by the homebuyer in the 13th month?  Homebuyers then think that just because the builder’s customer service department continues to respond to repair requests…the subcontractor will also likewise respond.

This type of fuzzy non-policy from the main office for multi-unit projects…compromises the onsite customer service people…and the customer service department in the main office…who must explain to the new homebuyers why a subcontractor will not offer free service repairs anymore, while the builder’s crew continues to honor customer service requests.

What may start out as a goodwill effort to be accommodating can turn into unfounded accusations by other homebuyers of favoritism when they hear about some homebuyers receiving customer service beyond the 12-month warranty period.

I have worked for builders in the high-end luxury home market…who offer a two-year warranty but essentially do open-ended warranty repairs for years beyond this two-year period…to establish and maintain a good word-of-mouth reputation among the high-end luxury home market.

But for multi-unit production housing…staying within the clear-cut boundaries of the 12-month warranty period (if that is what is offered by the builder) is the best approach as long as the new homebuyers are informed of and are aware of this warranty period at the front-end of the home purchase.