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Law School Case Brief

Centex Homes v. Buecher - 95 S.W.3d 266 (Tex. 2002)

Rule:

The implied warranty of good workmanship focuses on the builder's conduct, while the implied warranty of habitability focuses on the state of the completed structure. Through the implied warranty of good workmanship, the common law recognizes that a new home builder should perform with at least a minimal standard of care. This implied warranty requires the builder to construct the home in the same manner as would a generally proficient builder engaged in similar work and performing under similar circumstances. The implied warranty of good workmanship serves as a "gap-filler" or "default warranty"; it applies unless and until the parties express a contrary intention. Thus, the implied warranty of good workmanship attaches to a new home sale if the parties' agreement does not provide how the builder or the structure is to perform. 

The warranty of habitability may not be disclaimed generally. This implied warranty, however, only extends to defects that render the property so defective that it is unsuitable for its intended use as a home. Further, the implied warranty of habitability extends only to latent defects. It does not include defects, even substantial ones, that are known by or expressly disclosed to the buyer.

Facts:

Michael Buecher and other homeowners purchased new homes built by Centex Homes or Centex Real Estate Corporation doing business as Centex Homes. Each homeowner signed a standard form sales agreement prepared by Centex. The homeowners allege that the agreement contained a one-year limited express warranty in lieu of and waiving the implied warranties of habitability and good and workmanlike construction. Centex filed for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fourth District of Texas remanding respondent homeowners' claims for breach of implied warranties to the trial court.

Issue:

Could a homebuilder disclaim the implied warranties of habitability and good and workmanlike construction that accompany a new home sale?

Answer:

No as to the implied warranty of habitability; Yes as to the implied warranty of good and workmanlike construction

Conclusion:

The state supreme court reviewed the matter and agreed with the court of appeals that the implied warranty of habitability could not be waived except under limited circumstances not implicated in this case. However, the state supreme court held the implied warranty of good and workmanlike construction could be disclaimed. When the parties' agreement sufficiently described the manner, performance, or quality of construction, the express agreement could supersede the implied warranty of good workmanship. The court affirmed the court of appeals judgment, and remanded the class claims for consideration in light of the court's clarification of the purpose and protection afforded by these implied warranties.

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