August 20, 2007

Defective lemon homes

We are going to take a break from discussing lemon cars and turn our attention to houses that are lemons. Much like in the case of vehicles, the construction and materials used in a new house can also be defective. However, unlike the case of vehicles, where there is a strong established history of state and federal law (e.g. Magnuson Moss Warranty Act), home buyers are treading in much less chartered waters.

New cars are simpler and more straightforward ‘devices’ than new homes are. Cars are massed produced and the specification for a particular make and model should be the same for each vehicle. A vehicle goes through extensive testing and validation during the design phase and the resulting vehicle is well defined. This information is used by the manufacture in marketing the vehicle and is available to the consumer in the form of specification sheets, technical service bulletins, and user’s manuals.

More and more, houses are also being mass-produced, either entirely – as in mobile homes or pre-fabricated homes, or in parts – as in the case of prefabricated trusses and sections. A new house has the potential for much more customization and variability than a new car does. While you have options as far as color and added features, many new homes are close to unique. An additional variable when considering a new home is the environment, including the land the house is built on, the amount of annual rain the area receives, the temperature range to which the house will be subjected to, and etc.

I do not want to give the impression that the materials and mechanics of house construction are not well understood. Humans have been building structures far longer than they have been building cars and there is a vast area of civil and mechanical engineering and material science dealing with the construction of structures.

Continue reading "Defective lemon homes" »