The need for a buyer to seriously consider having legal counsel is most critical when one is planning to contract with a builder to build a house or purchase a builders spec home (one that has not been previously sold). Again, the best time to involve your attorney is at the contracting stage. Although most builders’ contracts are drafted to solely protect the builder’s interests, many builders will negotiate on some contract terms.

Among rights you should bargain for, if possible, are the right to: have a professional of your choosing periodically inspect the construction, to approve of substituted materials, withhold a portion of the purchase price for major work not completed before closing, or delays closing until work is substantially completed, and terminate the contract if the work is not completed on the ultimate “drop dead” date. These rights and others are not written into most construction contracts. In fact, some contracts even have a provision that if you move into the house, you waive your right to assert any claims against the builder for defective work.

Your attorney will also review the builder’s warranty and advice you as to what rights you have and don’t have under the warranty. You should know that whether or not a builder offers a written warranty, Ohio law imposes a duty on all builders to construct the home in a “workmanlike manner”, i.e. it must meet the standards of the industry.