No Implied Warranty Claim against a Subcontractor without a Contract

No Implied Warranty Claim against a Subcontractor without a Contract

Arizona Society of Civil Engineers Newsletter, January 2015

By Roger Owers, Ph.D., P.E., J.D.

New homes often come with some express warranties offered by the builder.  In Arizona, there is also an implied warranty of workmanship and habitability that comes with new homes.  This warranty, implied by the law, essentially means that the home will be deemed to have been built with a quality comparable to work performed by a worker of average intelligence and skill.  Under this implied warranty, the builder is responsible to the original homebuyer and also to subsequent homebuyers.

Mr. Louis Yanni bought a home in Pinal County, Arizona.  The plumbing work in those homes was performed by two subcontractors: Tucker Plumbing, Inc. and Brewer Enterprises, Inc.

In 2012, Yanni, along with some other homeowners, sued the two plumbing subcontractors.  Among other things, Yanni alleged that the plumbing subcontractors installed defective brass plumbing fittings that prematurely corroded and leaked.  Yanni therefore alleged that the plumbing subcontractors failed to follow acceptable construction practices regarding the plumbing in the new homes.  Yanni thus claimed that the subcontractors had breached the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability.

In court, however, the subcontractors pointed out even though the subcontractors had contracts with the builder, Yanni did not have a contract directly with the subcontractors.  The subcontractors therefore said that Yanni could not claim that the subcontractors breached the implied warranty, since the implied warranty arose out of a contract.  The trial court agreed with the subcontractors, so Yanni appealed.

In deciding the question of whether a subcontractor could be found in breach of an implied warranty of workmanship and habitability, the appeals court looked to other jurisdictions, such as Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas.  Those states required a contract between the homeowner and the builder.  The appeals court also observed that Yanni could have sued the developer or the builder of the home, so Yanni was not without recourse.  The appeals court ultimately affirmed the trial court’s decision.

In summary, homeowners can maintain an action for breach of the implied warranty of workmanship and habitability against those with whom the homeowner has privity of contract, such as the developer or builder. However, homeowners cannot maintain an action for breach of this implied warranty against subcontractors when there is no contract between the subcontractor and the homeowner.

The case is Yanni v. Tucker Plumbing, Inc., 312 P.3d 1130 (Ariz.App. 2013), filed November 20, 2013.  It can be found at http://www.apltwo.ct.state.az.us/ODSPlus/recentDecisions2.cfm.

This article is intended for general information only.  It should not be construed as legal advice with respect to any particular situation.  Readers should not act upon information contained in this article without first consulting their lawyer.

Roger S. Owers provides legal representation in the areas of design law, construction law, and Indian law.  Roger holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering, is a registered professional civil engineer, and is a licensed attorney.  He can be reached via e-mail at roger.owers@sackstierney.com or http://www.sackstierney.com/attorneys/owers.htm.  His profile can also be found on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerowers/.

rowers

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *