Home & Construction

The Construction Arbitration Program for Home Warranty Disputes (CAP-Home) is a program for homeowners and builders to resolve disputes related to new home construction.

In this program, local Arbitrators review construction defect claims and other issues provided for in the warranty documents.  These disputes can be reviewed through a documents only process or can involve a visual inspection of the alleged defects. Arbitrators are Home Inspectors, Architects, Engineers, or Attorneys trained in dispute resolution, industry standards, and the specific rules and guidelines of the CAP-Home program.

For more information select from the menu on the right.

To file a claim, contact your warranty provider or builder.  For more information on this program, contact Nikolina, the CAP-Home Program Coordinator, at NIvankovic@demarsassociates.com or call 800-279-5343.

Process Overview

The CAP-Home Program is a fair and speedy means of resolving residential construction disputes. Parties can feel confident that their case will be handled with the utmost care and attention by skilled Administrators and Arbitrators.

CAP-Home Administrators have a solid track record of processing and scheduling cases efficiently and effectively, providing assurance that your case will be handled professionally and on time.

CAP-Home Arbitrators are experienced industry professionals, trained and examined in the principles of arbitration and the rules of the Program. Our Arbitrators thoughtfully evaluate each item in dispute, taking into consideration both parties' positions, the applicable documents, and usually conducting a personal inspection of the home.

Process Overview Timeline

Case Administration Timeline.jpg

Program Rules & Fees

To view the CAP-Home Program Rules and Fees, select your warranty below:

Arbitration Network

DeMars & Associates employs a network of highly skilled professionals as Mediators and Arbitrators throughout the country. While DeMars & Associates is headquartered in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the neutral handling your case is located in your area.

Neutrals are required to be experienced in the subject matter of the dispute.  Often, home inspectors or building inspectors are appointed to review home warranty disputes.  If the dispute involves allegations of structural issues, the Arbitrator must be a professional engineer or an architect.  Contractual issues or claims involving legal disputes will be assigned to an attorney. 

Here is a sample of the types of qualifications our neutrals possess:

Residential Contractor

  • Over 25 years of experience in residential and light commercial construction. Successfully completed over 5,000 construction projects, ranging from single-family residences to multi-unit dwellings.
  • Recognized by the State of California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) as an Industry Expert, and in that capacity, mediated over 250 case for the CSLB and was called on to evaluate over 3,000 separate cases to determine if other General Contractors' workmanship was acceptable to Industry Standards.
  • Licensed by the California Registrar of Contractors in the following classifications:
    • B General Building Contractor
    • C-15 Flooring and Floor Covering
    • C-33 Painting and Decorating
    • C-54 Tile (Ceramic and Mosaic)

Licensed Home Inspector

  • Over 25 years of experience in residential and commercial construction as a contractor and President of a residential and commercial construction company.
  • Knowledgeable in construction methods, building codes and building materials. Managed multiple commercial & residential projects.
  • Residential experience has involved custom homes, townhouses, condominiums, tract homes and large developments
  • Licensed Building Sub-Code Official in New Jersey
  • Licensed New Jersey Building Residential Commercial Specialist

Registered Professional Engineer

  • Over 25 years of experience performing structural and mechanical inspections on residential structures
  • Held various engineering and administrative positions as a federal government employee for 25 years (NASA, DOD, USAP, FAA)
  • Licenses:
    • Registered Professional Engineer, State of Texas
    • Licensed Real Estate Inspector, State of Texas
    • Building Inspector, International Code Congress, Certificate
    • Licensed Real Estate Broker, State of Texas

Licensed Architect

  • Over 25 years of architectural experience covering commercial design and custom residential construction and historic preservation consulting.
  • Licensed architect in Maryland and Virginia
  • Professional affiliations include:
    • American Institute of Architects (AIA)
    • Virginia Society of A.I.A. (VSAIA), 1995-1996 Board of Directors, 1997-2000 Executive Committee and Board Secretary
    • Member of International Building Code, International Code Council 2004-2005
    • VSAIA Historic Resources Committee 1995-Present (Chair 2002-2003)

The DeMars Advantage

Personalized Case Administration

DeMars & Associates has administered warranty arbitration programs since 1988.  During that time, DeMars & Associates processed the documents that helped decide nearly 100,000 cases.  Case Administrators at DeMars & Associates combine the latest case management technology, including on-line document storage and retrieval, with traditional concepts like personalized customer care.  For example, Case Administrators work with the parties to ensure claims are accurately identified, which helps ensure a thorough review by the CAP-Home Arbitrator.  Our staff professionally manages the processing of your case from initiation through final conclusion.

Efficient Timelines

The typical CAP-Home case proceeds to arbitration within one to two months.  For example, in 2012, the average case handling time was 60 days.  This means the DeMars & Associates Case Administrators actively work with you and the other party to schedule cases for arbitration within a fair and expeditious timeframe.  You can expect our staff will work with you to move your case through the process and help you resolve the issues quickly.

Qualified Arbitrators and Mediators

CAP-Home Mediators and Arbitrators undergo our extensive training.  Training includes:

  • the program rules and procedures,
  • arbitrator skills and responsibilities,
  • role-playing scenarios, and
  • a written exam. 

All CAP-Home Arbitrators are required to successfully complete a written exam prior to appointment to the CAP-Home roster.  Periodically, after our neutrals are appointed they receive updates and coaching by DeMars & Associates to ensure their continued professional development.  Our Arbitrators and Mediators consistently rate our training and in-service development as "top of the list."

Results

At the close of each arbitration hearing, both the homeowners and the warranty companies are asked to fill out a voluntary Satisfaction Survey as a way to evaluate and rate the CAP-Home process.  Of those who responded in 2012 to our survey, below is a summary of our findings:

  • 82% of homeowners and 84% of warrantors either agreed or strongly agreed that the CAP-Home staff was knowledgeable about the case. 
  • 90% of homeowners and 92% of warrantors either agreed or strongly agreed that the CAP-Home staff was timely in responding to questions about the process or about the case
  • 88% of homeowners and 91% of warrantors either agreed or strongly agreed that the arbitration was handled in a professional manner
  • 87% of homeowners and 90% of warrantors either agreed or strongly agreed that the arbitrator was knowledgeable about their case and the CAP-Home program rules
  • 92% of homeowners and 90% of warrantors would recommend CAP-Home to a friend or colleague

California Statistics - Consumer Case Information

CAP Home for Home Warranty Disputes

Program Information

The Construction Arbitration Program for Home Warranty Disputes is a service offered to homeowners and builders to resolve warranty disputes related to new home construction. Local Arbitrators review construction defect claims and other issues provided for in the warranty documents.

The principles of dispute resolution incorporate the notions of balance and fairness, and require:

  • The decision be made by a neutral party
  • All parties to have the same rights and responsibilities
  • The arbitrator to demonstrate both the fact and appearance of objectivity
  • Avoidance of any conflicts of interest
  • Operation within the rules of the program
  • Decisions on every matter to be expressed in clear and understandable language

The Arbitration Process.

DeMars & Associates handles all administrative aspects of the arbitration process, including case intake, screening, scheduling and document collection/ distribution. In addition:

  • Arbitrator is hired as an independent contractor & paid on a per-case basis
  • Most cases are processed and resolved within 40 days
  • Arbitrator is contacted immediately upon receipt of eligible case
  • Only concerns covered by the home warranty will be reviewed
  • Most arbitrations are completed in approximately two hours, however, the length of arbitrations will vary and may last up to one day
  • Arbitrator will render decision within 48 hours
  • There is an established decision letter template; arbitrator will only need to provide a brief reasoning for decision

Arbitrator Qualifications

  • Home Inspector or residential construction experience for standard disputes
  • Architect or Engineer for structural disputes
  • Expertise in new home construction is required
  • Demonstrated ability to remain impartial and comply with all disclosure requirements
  • Arbitration Training will be provided *

To submit your resume to be considered for this position, please email Nikolina, the Program Coordinator, at NIvankovic@demarsassociates.com.

*The CAP-Home Training Program carries the NACHI "Education Approved" seal. Attendance counts toward NACHI member continuing education requirements.

Regulations

Technically, no state or federal regulations exist to govern arbitration programs for home warranties. Because homes are not “tangible personal property,” they are not covered by the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act that governs warranties of automobiles and other consumer products. However, in keeping with DeMars & Associates’ commitment to providing credible and high quality programs, CAP-Home is designed to comply with the Federal Arbitration Act. CAP-Home also takes into account and has adopted many of the American Bar Association’s (ABA)Best Practices for arbitration.

Additionally, the state of California requires that the results of all mediated and arbitrated home warranty cases be monitored and published on a quarterly basis. The link to the most recent report can be found here.

California Statistics

CAP Home Arbitrators

The qualifications necessary to become a CAP-Home Arbitrator depend on the type of issues involved in the dispute.  They are as listed below.

Abritrator Qualifications

  • Licensed Home Inspector for standard disputes
  • Licensed Architect or Engineer for structural disputes
  • Expertise in new home construction is required
  • Demonstrated ability to remain impartial and comply with all disclosure requirements
  • Arbitration Training will be provided

If you believe that you are qualified to be a CAP-Home arbitrator, and are interested in joining our network of neutrals, please select the "Employment Opportunities" link at the bottom of the page for more information, or contact Nikolina Ivankovic, the CAP-Home Program Coordinator, at NIvankovic@demarsassociates.com.

Upcoming Training

Every arbitrator who is new to the CAP-Home program completes a training session prior to being scheduled for a hearing.  Training sessions take place over the phone, either individually or in small groups, and the arbitrators are provided with a training manual in advance of the training.  DeMars & Associates uses distance learning to provide a meaningful and complete training experience, which requires the arbitrators to complete a written exam and render a sample decision letter based on a sample case file before being added to the CAP-Home roster of arbitrators.  The training that we provide is highly regarded by our arbitrators, and we are consistently receiving positive feedback on the overall training experience.  Periodic refresher training is provided on an as-needed basis when policies or procedures are updated or changed.  To learn more, please click on the Employment Opportunities link to left.

Process FAQs

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is a process where parties to a dispute present documents and statements to an individual who is independent from the parties.  That individual, the Arbitrator, acts as a judge who conducts the arbitration hearing, reviews the submitted information and makes a decision based on the information presented.

Who is the arbitrator?

CAP-Home Arbitrators are professionals experienced in the home building industry.  An Arbitrator may be a home inspector, engineer, architect, contractor, or other professional with residential construction experience.  Prior to appointment as a CAP-Home Arbitrator, each candidate undergoes our comprehensive program-specific training and must pass a written exam.

Does the builder/warranty company have influence over the arbitrator?

No.  The CAP-Home Arbitrators are independent contractors working with DeMars & Associates, which trains and manages all of their activities.  The Arbitrators are not connected with or employed by participating builders or warranty companies. Arbitrators are assigned randomly based on geographic proximity to the homeowner's residence.

Do I need a lawyer?

No.  Arbitration through the CAP-Home Program is an informal process.  Most homeowners find they are comfortable managing their cases and neither party needs a lawyer to participate in a CAP-Home Arbitration.  If a party chooses to have a lawyer participate in the arbitration, he/she must notify the Administrator no later than five calendar days prior to the hearing.

How long does the process take?

The CAP-Home process is designed to be a fair and efficient means of resolving disputes, and we recognize the parties are anxious for resolution.  The duration of a case varies based on the parties' availability and flexibility when scheduling the arbitration hearing date.  However, a typical case is resolved within 40-60 days from DeMars & Associates' receipt of the request for arbitration.  It should be noted that in cases in which one or both parties are responsible for delays beyond 90 days, additional fees may be charged.

How is the meeting scheduled?

A CAP-Home Administrator from DeMars & Associates contacts the parties and the assigned arbitrator within two weeks from receiving a request for arbitration.  The Administrator will discuss potential dates with the parties and the arbitrator and schedule a date that is reasonably convenient for everyone.  The hearing date is confirmed in writing no fewer than ten (10) days prior to the hearing.

What happens if I have to reschedule my hearing?

Once a hearing date has been set, hearings will only be postponed for good cause.  The party requesting the change must submit the request in writing to DeMars & Associates, and the Arbitrator makes the final decision.  Adjournment fees apply if the request is granted.

What happens if we have a tropical storm or other catastrophic natural event?

In those rare situations when a natural disaster threatens or occurs, we request the parties and the Arbitrator to call DeMars & Associates, if possible, to advise DeMars & Associates of the situation so the Arbitrator can make a decision regarding whether the hearing can continue to be safely held.  If the Arbitrator determines the hearing cannot be safely held, he/she will reschedule the hearing and no additional fees will be charged.  Every effort will be made to expedite the hearing.

How do I prepare for arbitration?

1) Review the case file packet sent by DeMars prior to the arbitration hearing.  Make sure it includes all the documents you would like the arbitrator to review in support of your case.

2) Submit additional documents that support your case, if any, to DeMars prior to the hearing so they may be distributed to the Arbitrator and other party(s).

3) Be prepared to talk to the Arbitrator about your claims and show conditions related to your claims if appropriate.

What if I have additional information for the arbitrator?

You may submit additional information to DeMars & Associates to forward to the Arbitrator and the other party(ies).  If you bring additional information to the hearing the Arbitrator may choose not to accept it.

What happens at the arbitration hearing?

The Arbitrator is responsible for managing the hearing and will evaluate each of the alleged defects/deficiencies or other items for review with the parties.  Each party will be given the opportunity to give his/her statement and present witnesses if he/she chooses to do so.  Also, the Arbitrator may choose to ask questions of the parties and the witnesses, if any.  At the close of the hearing, the Arbitrator will ask the parties if they are finished.  Once the Arbitrator is satisfied he/she has all the necessary information, he/she will state that the hearing is closed.  At that time, the parties may not present any additional information unless the hearing is reconvened or the Arbitrator requests the additional information.

What happens if I know the arbitrator or the builder knows the arbitrator?

If one party knows the Arbitrator, the Arbitrator will likely disclose how he/she knows that party and ask the other party if they have an objection to the Arbitrator continuing to handle the case.  If there is no objection, the Arbitrator will proceed.  If there is an objection, the hearing will not proceed until an alternate Arbitrator is assigned.  In this situation, it is likely the hearing will need to be rescheduled for a later date.

Will the arbitrator make a decision at the arbitration?/When will I get my decision?

The Arbitrator's decision will be made following the meeting.  The decision is made in writing and mailed within 14 calendar days of the hearing.  The decision letter is sent to the parties or their attorneys (if applicable) through First Class U.S. Mail.

What if the decision is unclear?

A party may request a Modification or Clarification when it appears that the Arbitrator has made a decision that is outside of his/her authority or when there is a mistake in the decision letter, like a clerical or mathematical error.  Requests must be submitted in writing to DeMars & Associates within 20 days of the date on the decision letter.  DeMars & Associates may not change an Arbitrator's decision; the request is sent to the Arbitrator for review and determination.

What if I disagree with the decision?

Under some limited circumstances, the CAP-Home Rules may allow a party to appeal a decision.  An appeal request must be made in writing and submitted to DeMars & Associates with the requisite filing fee within 20 days of the date on the decision letter.  No new evidence may be submitted on appeal.  The Appellate Arbitrator simply reviews the previous submissions and decision to determine whether the decision rendered was reasonable in light of the evidence and applicable documents, like the warranty document.