Warranty Claims: A Self-Storage Manager's Guide to Handling Construction-Related Problems

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By Jon Orlando

Whether you’re the manager of a new facility or one that’s recently been expanded or remodeled, you’ll likely have some construction-warranty issues. Once you’ve discovered a problem, you may wonder:

  • Is this covered under the warranty?
  • Who do I call?
  • How long do they have to respond?
  • Who pays for the damage to the tenants’ goods?

These are all good questions. Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved in warranty claims, your role in handling them, and how you can head off problems.

Review Documentation

The most important part of the warranty process is documentation. Once your project is complete, the contractor should issue a one-year warranty that covers the project in general, and subcontractor/vendor warranties covering the individual trades. Keep in mind that warranties for the latter can be longer than one year, especially for things such as air-conditioning systems and roofs, so make sure you review these warranties carefully.

There’s no need to be bashful about requesting the warranties, either. Most contractors expect to provide these documents before receiving final payment. If you didn’t receive a written document specifically warranting the work after your project was completed, don’t worry. Most courts uphold the one-year warranty as implicit to the industry, so you’re still legally covered.

Although most warranty language is pretty standard in the construction industry, review your documents and make sure everything looks in order. The most important information on the documentation is the dates. Check the warranty “to and from” dates and make sure they’re accurate. The start date of the warranty should be at the time of completion and can be related to a Certificate of Occupancy or Notice of Acceptance issued by the building department.

Once you’re satisfied with the dates, do yourself a favor and mark the end date on a calendar at least a month before the warranty period expires. At that time you can review the entire project for any outstanding issues and provide notice to the contractor for any necessary repairs.

Examine Coverage

Just as with a new car, certain items are covered under a contractor’s warranty and other items are considered wear and tear. In addition, failure to provide maintenance can void or reduce your ability to recover damages under the warranty.

Once a new self-storage facility, remodel or expansion is complete, the contractor will provide a full one-year warranty for the project. This covers basically everything installed on your project, however, it doesn’t cover damage to the facility caused by tenants. In addition, make sure your facility is maintained. Roof leaks caused by debris on roofs or clogged gutters don’t constitute a warranty claim, nor does improperly functioning air conditioning due to unchanged filters.

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