Avoiding Disputes

The typical house contains more than 3,000 different parts. These components must be assembled with skill to form the new product you will call home.

It would be unrealistic to expect your new home to be perfect. Even the best built homes are likely need a few corrections. Most problems are corrected routinely by the Builder. However, if a non-routine problem should arise, you should follow certain procedures to correct the situation.

First, identify the exact nature of the problem. Then you should put it into writing and send it to the Builder. Many Builders require all complaints to be in writing and will respond to telephone complaints only in emergencies.



Passed by the South Dakota Legislature in 2007, the Notice and Opportunity to Repair (NOR) legislation provides that prior to commencing a lawsuit against a contractor for a construction defect, the home owner must: 

  1. Deliver to the contractor a written notice describing the alleged defect; and
  2. Allow the contractor, within thirty days of receipt of the notice, to (a) inspect the alleged defect and (b) deliver to the home owner a written offer to repair the defect or pay for it.

The home owner may not commence the lawsuit until 30 days after delivery of the notice or until the contractor refuses to remedy the alleged defect, whichever occurs first. 

If the homeowner commences suit without giving the contractor 30-day’s notice and an opportunity to remedy the defect, the lawsuit will be stayed until the homeowner has complied with this requirement. 

The home owner, however, is not required to give the contractor written notice of any additional defects discovered after the delivery of the initial notice of defect.



Include your name, address and home and work telephone numbers. Type your letter if possible. If not, use printing or handwriting that is easy to read. 

Keep your letter brief and to the point, but include all relevant details. State exactly what you want done and how soon you expect the problem to be resolved. Be reasonable. Include all relevant documents regarding the problem.

Send copies, not originals. Keep a copy of the letter for your files.

Before you write your letter, familiarize yourself with your warranty coverage. If a problem develops after the warranty has expired, the Builder is not required to fix it under the terms of the written warranty. Some items, such as appliances, may be covered by manufacturers’ warranties and are not the responsibility of the Builder.

Always go directly to the Builder with your complaints. Do not send letters to lawyers, government agencies, home builders associations or any other third parties before you have given your Builder a reasonable chance to correct the problem. Interference from outsiders may impede the handling of your complaint. Also, sending angry, sarcastic or threatening letters is not likely to expedite your case. Such letters usually do more harm than good.

Contact outsiders only if you have reached an impasse with your Builder. Try to avoid legal proceedings. Lawsuits are expensive and time consuming and should be attempted only as a last resort.

Remember that most Builders are seeking customer referrals and repeat buyers. They want you to be satisfied. If a problem develops, remain calm and approach your Builder in a reasonable manner. 

By following the procedures described above, chances are that you will be able to resolve the problems.