Should matters of taste be covered by a new home warranty?

That is the central question in the dispute between Alice and Jeremiah Harrington and the builders of the Tollgate town houses in Annandale, Edward R. Carr & Association, Inc.

The Harringtons moved into Tollgate last November. The builder was told of a number of items which needed repair and, according to the Harringtons, immediately fixed the dishwasher, hot water heater, and screening. Other items were handled later including several new kitchen drawers, cabinet doors, and attic insulation.

But the item which is most difficult to resolve concerns the flooring. The Harringtons contend that when they saw the floors prior to settlement all that was needed to complete the job was a finishing lawyer of materials. Carr finished the floor with a "very glossy" coating that is just too bright, the Harringtons maintain.

In some areas the coating has coagulated, the Harringtons said, adding that they have asked Carr to refinish the floor.

Edward R. Carr said he will not discuss problems about individual houses with reporters. He did say, however, that the "standard that we set is displayed at the model" and that a "model is a fair representation" of the product being sold. The models, according to Carr, show a buyer the type of finishing they can expect in a new house.

The Carr town houses are backed by the 10-year HOW (Home Owners Warranty) program. Under that plan, any buyer has the right to complain to a local HOW council and seek arbitration if a dispute cannot otherwise be settled. Carr suggested that buyers with complaints should use the program when they cannot reach agreement with a builder.

But in the case of Harringtons there is no question concerning the structural basis of the flooring - just the question of whether the flooring should be glossy or not, which may be difficult to determine.