Caseiro v. Genesis Building, Inc.

A-2712-98T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 1999) (Unpublished)
  • Opinion Date: December 27, 1999

CONTRACTORS; WARRANTIES—A homebuilder’s post-closing promise to make specific repairs is separately enforceable and not governed by the time limitations of a homeowner’s warranty.

A home buyer had thirty days following completion of its new home to prepare and deliver a “punch list” to the builder. During the thirty day period, the buyer brought some window defects to the builder’s attention. The builder’s representative promised to have the defects remedied, but the work was never done satisfactorily. More than two years after the home had been completed, the buyer submitted a claim under the New Home Warranty Program, but it was dismissed because it was brought more than one year from the time of closing. The buyer then brought an action against the builder. The lower court found that the buyer’s delay in seeking relief had been caused by its reliance on representations made by the builder and that those representations gave rise to a new contract supported by promissory estoppel. The lower court also rejected the builder’s claim that the buyer’s untimely submission of the claim under the New Home Warranty Program was an election of remedies which barred the buyer from seeking redress under the contract. The lower court said, “[t]his is not a claim under the contract. As I’ve said, this is a separate promise made by the builder to make the repairs on the window that’s enforceable through the action brought by the plaintiff here in court, and the judgment is based on a separate promise made to make repairs of the window that has not been fulfilled by the defendant.” On appeal, the builder contended that the facts did not support a finding of promissory estoppel and that the buyer’s untimely submission of the warranty claim barred this contract claim. The Appellate Division dismissed both contentions as being without merit, agreeing with the lower court that the buyer was suing on the builder’s promise to repair the window unit, not on the warranty.