Does a warranty given by the manufacturer of building materials to a homeowner in North Carolina last as long as it says it lasts? Thanks to a recent Supreme Court of North Carolina decision, the answer is yes.
In Christie v. Hartley Construction, Inc., the homeowners contracted with a builder to build a custom house. The builder suggested to the homeowners that the house have an exterior cladding system known as SuperFlex, which was manufactured by GrailCoat Worldwide, LLC. GrailCoat provided a written twenty-year warranty for SuperFlex. The house was completed in early 2005. In 2011, the homeowners noticed cracks in the SuperFlex and moisture intrusion into their house. The homeowners informed GrailCoat of the problem but GrailCoat would not compensate them for the damage caused by the moisture intrusion. In late 2011, the homeowners filed a lawsuit against the builder and GrailCoat claiming, among other things, that GrailCoat was liable under the twenty-year warranty for SuperFlex. GrailCoat defended against the lawsuit based upon North Carolina’s six-year statute of repose for claims arising out of improvements to real property.
A Warranty for Twenty Years Stands In Its Entirety
The Supreme Court of North Carolina found that “GrailCoat advertised its product to plaintiffs as being ‘fully warranted’ for twenty years but now claims that this warranty covered only the first six years after its product was applied.” The Court ruled in favor of the homeowners and held that the “contract at issue provided for a warranty of twenty years” and “[t]hat warranty stands in its entirety.”
The bottom line is that this decision is good news for homeowners who wish to hold manufacturers to the actual terms of written warranties received for material used in the construction of their houses. It also informs manufacturers that if they make warranties on their products used in construction in North Carolina, they will be responsible for the actual length of the warranties.