The term “maintenance manual” will be open for interpretation, but as outlined in the previous blogs it is required that builders give one to new home owners. Instead of debating the definition of the term, we should examine how a builder can position themselves to reduce their liability and benefit from providing a better homeowner experience at the same time.
A new home consists of parts manufactured by the builder, as well as parts installed by the builder from third-party manufacturers. The homeowner is responsible for maintaining both in order to receive new home warranty coverage or manufacturers direct warranties. More importantly the home owner wants everything to work properly to achieve maximum value and enjoyment out of the home. Therefore, operating instructions, maintenance tips, and warranty rules about everything in the home is important to the home owner. To them, it is irrelevant if the maintenance material meets regulations, it only matters that they have it.
Depending on how you interpret the HPA, a builder meets their legal responsibility by only providing instructions on how to maintain the home. It can be argued that there is a legal responsibility to ensure third party components maintenance information is included. However, builders should not spend time worrying about being compliant, they should see the Home Owner Manual as an opportunity. By providing a comprehensive New Home Manual with all necessary information regardless of who produced it, a builder benefits by:
· Positive Homeowner Expectation: A new home, regardless of type or price is a significant investment. If a homeowner is not provided with the tools they need to protect that investment, the blame will ultimately fall on the builder. A happy homeowner is rational, easy to deal with, provides referrals and has the possibility of repeat business.
· Keeps Value of the Home: A well-built home is ultimately a builder’s best promotional tool. Homes change hands much more frequently than in the past due to increasing real estate prices. A well maintained home is a positive reflection on the builder; the same can’t be said for a poorly maintained home. A buyer will like a comprehensive manual, so it can help with resale.
· Fewer Resources Required: An educated homeowner is empowered to do what is required of them and requires less of the builder’s time & resources.
· Reduce Liability: By providing all maintenance material you eliminate any liability that could result from improper operation & maintenance by the homeowner.
Regardless of how you define “maintenance manual,” what is true for every home is that proper operation & maintenance is necessary for both the builder and the homeowner to benefit from the transaction.