Can contractors limit their warranty? Know your rights

When you hire a contractor for construction or renovation work, they are legally obligated to provide a warranty for their work. However, a common question arises: can a contractor limit this legal warranty, perhaps in their general terms and conditions? Understanding the scope and limitations of such warranties is crucial for homeowners and real estate professionals alike.

Home building

Immediate visible defects

If you notice visible defects in the work done, such as cracked tiles, it’s important to report these at the time of delivery. Completion of work and its acceptance can be implicit, for example, if you take the keys without discussion or pay the final invoice without objection.

Reporting process

– Document the defects with photographs or videos.
– Report the defects in writing to the contractor as soon as possible.
– Keep a record of all communications for future reference.

Decennial liability

In the event of serious defects that compromise the stability or solidity of the building after completion, the contractor is responsible for these for ten years. This decennial liability cannot be contractually limited or excluded by the contractor. Any attempt to do so is considered invalid.

Understanding decennial liability

– Applies to major structural defects.
– The contractor is liable for 10 years post-completion.
– Limitations or exclusions in the contract are not valid.

Minor hidden defects

You can also hold your contractor responsible for minor hidden defects, which do not fall under decennial liability. These must be reported within a reasonable time after discovery. In case of a dispute, you must prove that the defect was present or imminent at the time of work completion, even if it was not visible then.

Contractual clauses on hidden defects

– General terms may set a timeframe for reporting minor hidden defects.
– Such clauses are often valid unless they excessively limit the contractor’s liability.
– A common practice is to limit the warranty period for minor hidden defects to one year after provisional acceptance.

Navigating warranty limitations

While contractors can set certain limitations in their general terms, these should not excessively restrict their liability. It is often accepted that the warranty period for minor hidden defects can be limited to up to one year following provisional acceptance.

Key points to consider

– Review the contractor’s terms and conditions carefully.
– Understand the limitations and timeframes set for reporting defects.
– Consult a legal expert if in doubt about the terms.

Protecting your rights as a homeowner

As a homeowner, it’s essential to be aware of your rights and the legal obligations of your contractor. While contractors can impose certain limitations through their general terms, these should not undermine your fundamental rights to quality workmanship and safety.

Steps to ensure protection

– Always have a written contract with clear terms.
– Understand the warranty provisions and limitations.
– Seek legal advice in case of disputes or unclear terms.


Understanding the nuances of contractor warranties is vital in the real estate sector. While contractors can limit their liability to an extent, certain fundamental responsibilities, especially concerning major structural defects, cannot be waived. As a homeowner or real estate professional, staying informed and vigilant about these aspects is key to protecting your interests and ensuring the quality and safety of your property.

In summary, while contractors can impose certain limitations on their warranties, these should not infringe upon the basic rights of homeowners to have structurally sound and safely constructed properties. Being aware of these legal nuances can save homeowners from future hassles and ensure that their real estate investments are secure.