Topics:Real Estate Home Warranty 101 Budget Smart Homeowner Tips Repair and Maintenance Home Warranty Companies Interior Design
Guest Post by Adam Sherman Buying a first home is an exciting milestone in one’s life, but the significant costs involved put tremendous strain on the average person’s budget. After the down payment, moving costs, inspection fees, and other expenses, some new homeowners feel financially constrained. A broken home system or appliance is always a financial setback, but something failing within a year of a home’s sale is a new homeowner’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, purchasing a home warranty when buying a home is an effective way to protect both one’s home and wallet. Let’s explore a first-year home warranty and its benefits. What is a first-year home warranty? A first-year home warranty is a service agreement that covers a home’s systems and appliances for a full year after the closing date. It ensures that items covered by the contract will be repaired or replaced should they break down due to normal wear and tear. Homeowners typically pay a monthly or annual premium and a service fee whenever they need to submit a claim, but they are protected from paying out of pocket for costly repairs. What do home warranties cover? Home warranties are not the same as homeowner’s insurance policies. A standard insurance policy will protect a home in the event of disaster, accident, or theft. Insurance will not cover individual systems and appliances that fail after years of general use. A home warranty can fill those gaps in coverage. Every home warranty policy is different. Some agreements are narrow in scope, covering only a few appliances or systems in the home. Other agreements are broader and will cover virtually anything. Here are some of the home appliances and systems that a basic first-year warranty plan will cover: Refrigerators Dishwashers Ovens, ranges, and cooktops Garbage disposals Exhaust fans Built-in microwaves Washers and dryers Electrical wiring Plumbing Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) Homeowners can usually upgrade their home warranty plans to include coverage for additional appliances and systems. Common additions include septic systems, sprinkler systems, pools, wells, sump pumps, and more. Provided that the appliance or system is not already faulty, the homeowner can likely negotiate with the warranty company to receive coverage. Some warranty providers even provide home services, such as gutter cleaning, roof repair, and pest control. The breadth and flexibility of coverage make a home warranty a worthwhile resource for people of all means and lifestyles. Who pays for a home warranty? There are different categories of home warranties. In some cases, homeowners preparing to sell their home will purchase a warranty plan to entice buyers. Once the home is sold, the warranty is transferred to the new homeowners. This is typically referred to as a seller’s home warranty. Depending on the agreement between homeowners, the sellers may cover all expenses until the warranty expires, or the buyers may take over the premium and/or service fees after the closing date. A home buyer’s warranty is another kind of plan. Homeowners purchase this type of warranty for themselves to receive coverage on systems and appliances after moving into a new home. The homeowners are usually responsible for all costs associated with a buyer’s warranty. Sometimes, however, it’s the realtor who pays for home warranty buyer or seller plans. A realtor may purchase a plan as a gift for a client or to facilitate a home sale. Someone who is interested in a first-year home warranty for a new home will likely purchase a new home buyer’s warranty, but it’s important to communicate with the realtor and sellers to confirm that no one has already purchased a warranty for the home. Benefits of buying a home warranty For most people, a comprehensive first-year home warranty plan that is tailored to the homeowner’s needs is an invaluable asset. Here are some of the most important benefits. Savings — Home warranties are surprisingly affordable. Inexpensive plans go for a few hundred dollars per year. Service fees can range from around $75 to $150, but these are only required when a claim is submitted. The price tag on a new refrigerator dwarfs the annual cost of the average home warranty. If something in the home needs to be repaired or replaced, the home warranty can effectively pay for itself. A home warranty can even boost a home’s value. Convenience — Warranty providers maintain networks of qualified and insured technicians. When something in the home requires servicing, the warranty company can handle the logistics of sending a repair person to the home. Peace of mind — A faulty appliance can be a significant source of stress. It can make a home less comfortable, and the high price tag of fixing or replacing an important machine can generate a great deal of financial anxiety. A home warranty relieves homeowners of these worries. What to look for when buying a first-year home warranty So, is a home warranty worth it? For most people, yes. There are some things to consider as you look for a plan, however. Here are some important tips to keep in mind: Purchase only the coverage you need — A primary benefit of a home warranty is savings. Purchasing a plan that includes coverage for systems and appliances that you don’t own defeats that purpose. You should also confirm there are no active manufacturers’ warranties on appliances in your home. Find reputable companies — Unfortunately, warranty scamming is a real problem to look out for. Thoroughly research your warranty company before agreeing to a plan. Use respected sites and organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, to find trustworthy companies. Ask questions — Have a list of questions at the ready as you shop around for the right plan. Make sure you understand what is and is not covered. Ask if there are limitations to how much the plan will pay out. Confirm there are no hidden costs or fees. A first-year home warranty is an excellent investment for new homeowners. Just make sure you do your due diligence to find the optimal plan. Adam Sherman has over a decade of experience when it comes to all things related to home service contracts.
Things go wrong all the time. Your freezer breaks and the food thaws out. Your AC’s filter clogs and leaves you high and dry in a heatwave. Your washer floods the laundry room. If you manage your own household, you’ve probably had a few emergencies from neglected appliances. And the more appliances you have, the more often you’re fixing or replacing them. What if you could prolong the life of your microwave and save a hundred dollars for another day? What if you could add a couple more years to the life of your dishwasher, buying you time to save money for when it will ultimately need a replacement? We’ve asked the experts about simple tips for cleaning your major appliances. With this advice, you can help your appliances last longer. Many of these tips will only cost you a few minutes of your day, but they could save you hundreds of dollars in the long run. Jump to: Dishwasher Microwave Washing machine Clothes dryer Refrigerator and freezer Stove and oven Dishwasher You might assume that your dishwasher is clean. Water and soap are constantly moving through it, so would the interior even need maintenance? Dishwashers need TLC like any other appliance. Food particles and soap scum can build up, and it can make your dishwasher germy and less effective. And if you have hard water, mineral build ups can decrease water flow. Here’s what you can do to keep your dishwasher clean and fresh. Use the dishwasher frequently and air it out If you assumed the dishwasher cleans itself, you’re partially right. “To keep dishwater working in good condition, the tip is using it as often as possible,” says Norma Capin, Operations Manager at Dallas Maids. But you also need to air it out: “Leave it open for some minutes after using it.” A dishwasher that isn’t used frequently can trap food and grease. And a dark and moist place with leftover food can build up mold — that’s the last thing you want scrubbing your plates and silverware. Run a cleaning cycle — or make your own cleaning cycle Some dishwashers have a cleaning feature, making your job a little easier. “Run the ‘clean dishwasher’ cycle once a month,” suggests Ahmed Ali, outreach consultant for Centriq. “This cycle will thoroughly clean all the parts and remove any mineral buildup to ensure the appliance will last longer.” If your dishwasher doesn’t have this feature, there’s the DIY option to clear your dishwasher out and keep it smelling fresh: “Deodorize it by placing a bowl of synthetic vinegar on the top rack and running it empty for a full cycle.” Clean your spray arms Some parts of your dishwasher need personalized fine-tuning. For spray arms, you’ll probably have to get your hands dirty. The experts at Molly Maid reached out to us with some tips on cleaning a spray arm: “To clean them, simply remove the arms, hold them over the kitchen sink one at a time, and dislodge food particles with a toothpick. Run water through the holes to make sure they’re clear, and reinstall the arms in the dishwasher.” Watch how you arrange your dishes When it’s time to clean your dishes, it’s tempting to throw all your items in your dishwasher and hope it cleans every surface area. But if you aren’t careful, you can damage your appliance. “Do not to put sharp items in the dishwasher racks,” cautions Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance. “They are made of metal covered with plastic and sharp items can cause nicks or cuts to the plastic covering, which later turns into rust and breaks down the machine.” Microwave The microwave is a gorey battlefield of food preparation, featuring everything from overflowing soup to exploding rice and beans. You might have a few sauce stains hidden away in your microwave right now. Did you know that neglecting your microwave can make it rusty and unsafe? We didn’t, until Harriet Jones, a cleaning expert and supervisor for Go Cleaners London, clued us in: “Once rust eats its way through the interior cavity, it takes no more than a couple of years to fully destroy the microwave oven, not to mention the unsanitary conditions for food preparation that rust establishes.” It’s worth cleaning your microwave to prevent this. Give your microwave a steam treatment To deep-clean a microwave, Jones suggests you start by finding a microwave-safe bowl and filling it with equal parts white vinegar and water. If you don’t want the bowl to overflow, put a piece of wood in, like a toothpick. Then you let the microwave do its work: “Tuck the bowl in the microwave and nuke it for 10 minutes. The steam, produced by the heat and the homemade cleaner, will loosen the grime, making it effortless to take any leftovers off from the kitchen appliance.” That’s easier than scrubbing away at dried pieces of leftover food. Jones says that once you do that, you can wipe your microwave down with a sponge or cloth. Washing machine The washing machine is another damp, dark place where germs love to hide out. A washing machine can’t do much for your clothes when it’s dirty and moldy; in fact, it can potentially ruin them. Washing machines can also stop draining if you don’t keep them gunk free. Maintain a clean washing machine to maintain clean clothes. Establish a monthly routine A cleaning routine will help your washing machine last longer. Afoma Umesi, chief editor of Oh So Spotless, recommends cleaning your machine once a month. Companies sell washing machine cleaning powder, and you might consider buying a packet, dumping it in, and running a cycle if you have a particularly nasty machine. However, you can also maintain your appliance with household items you likely have on hand. “Use a damp cloth to clean behind the rubber gaskets and run a hot water cycle with a cup of vinegar to clean out the drum,” suggests Umesi. Vinegar’s acidity can wash away soap scum and mineral buildups, so it should help to keep your washing machine drum cleaner. Clear out the detergent drawer Fabric softener and laundry detergent can build up and ruin your washing machine’s ability to clean. “Don't forget to clean the detergent drawer,” reminds Umesi, “as all the excess detergent can clog your drain in time.” There are a lot of different ways you can do this, but many experts recommend removing the drawer and cleaning it with bleach or soapy water. Replace your washing machine’s hoses Shimek of Mr. Appliance has another pro tip: “Replace the brittle plastic hoses that come with the machine with steel, flexible ones that are made for long-term use.” It’s not hard to tell why a flexible hose would be beneficial. Many manufacturers make no-burst water hoses that are going to save you from expensive flooding mishaps. Other manufacturers make auto-shutoff hoses that can sense when a hose has burst and stop water flow. Don’t overload the machine When you’re cleaning your clothes, you might want to maximize how much you can fit into one load. But take into account that you should set a limit. “Don't overload the machine with clothes,” Shimek advises. “This puts a strain on the motor, which will cause it to wear out faster.” Clothes dryer Your washing machine and dryer are the fire and ice of your laundry room — or at least, the fire and water. While you have to worry about a washing machine draining improperly, molding, or flooding your room, you have to worry about too much heat with your dryer. Mold can still be an issue in the nooks and crannies of a clothes dryer, but a buildup of lint and dust in your vents can cause a fire. Clear out the lint drawer It’s simple advice, but many people ignore this easy tip that can take only minutes of your time. Afoma Umesi agrees: “The best way to maintain your dryer is to do the one thing you're often too lazy to do: clean out the lint drawer. When your lint drawer is blocked, your dryer works longer, which, of course, wears it out faster.” Wash off the lint trap If you have a removable lint trap, you can do a little extra work to keep your lint drawer unblocked. Ron Shimek suggests that you scrub it off: “Take the lint trap and scrub it with soap and water over the kitchen sink. Some dryers have a lint filter on the bottom or back of the machine, so check yours, and make sure you are cleaning the lint from that on a regular basis.” Pack lighter to avoid wearing the motor down Just like the washing machine, Shimek reminded us that the dryer shouldn’t be packed too full. If a dryer is struggling to tumble a larger load, this could damage the motor. Refrigerator and freezer Your fridge and freezer see a lot of incoming and outbound traffic, so it’s a place that’s likely to get hectic. It only takes a couple seconds to spill leftovers while you’re taking them out of the fridge, but it will take several minutes to clean it up. Naturally, we sometimes do our damage control half-heartedly. But you shouldn’t neglect a routine cleaning of your fridge, and not just the interior, but the exterior as well. Remove dust from the outside Don’t let your fridge sit and gather dust. Matthias Alleckna, an energy analyst for EnergyRates.ca, notes that “Dust is . . . a really good insulator, which means that it makes it harder for large appliances like your fridge to resist heat, making it more inefficient. At least once every six months, vacuum off the dust off your refrigerator coils behind the fridge.” Clean behind the fridge When was the last time you looked behind your fridge? It’s probably not pretty. But since our last point mentions that you need to get back there to dust, you might also have time to clean up a little more. "Dirty coils can strain the compressor, which can result in a shorter refrigerator’s lifespan,” mentions Ahmed Ali from Centriq. In addition to dusting off your coils, he suggests that you mop behind your fridge, because this “will put less stress on the fridge’s motor and prolong the lifespan.” Clean the grille up front You can also vacuum off the grille at the bottom of the front side of your fridge. The experts at Molly Maid suggest this, and they explain why: “This improves airflow to the condenser to boost refrigerator efficiency by about 3 to 5 percent.” Clear out the inside It can be exasperating how quickly your food spoils. One day, your shredded cheese is perfect. The next day, it’s hosting a ball of green mold. That’s why you need to be cycling through your fridge and throwing out what’s no longer good. If you let food accumulate, Ali warns that it can damage your fridge: “Don’t overfill your fridge as it puts a load on the compressor and blocks airflow. Clean it from the inside once a month.” The experts from Molly Maid have a quick guide to cleaning your fridge to avoid overflow, mold, and smelly leftovers: “You can wait several months between deep-cleanings if you take a few simple steps to maintain a passable fridge for that long. Immediately — Rinse off dirty jars and bottles such as jam, salsa, and ketchup. Also, make an effort to catch spills right away to avoid the hassle of sticky spots in your fridge. Once a week — Throw out any rotting food and expired juices/milk/yogurt. Every 2 months — Leave an open box of baking soda in the fridge. This is an effective, affordable method for absorbing odors. The odor-absorbing capabilities of baking soda diminish after about two months, so that’s how often you should replace it. Every 3–4 months — Time to deep-clean! Purge anything old/things you never use Take the crisper and meat drawers out Wipe down interior with a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water Dry all washed surfaces Set a fresh baking soda box in a corner Clean exterior door with a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water — if you have stainless steel, remove grime with a store-bought stainless steel spray.” Periodically defrost Defrosting your freezer is like a quick juice detox — except it actually helps you out in the long-term. Alleckna explained that ice built up around your vents signifies that it might be time for a freezer defrost. “You can remove the food from it and unplug it for roughly 30 minutes until the ice melts,” he explains. Stove and oven Many ovens have a self-cleaning feature; it’s pretty straightforward. But there are a couple other quick cleaning tips that can keep your stove and oven fresh. Use lime to reduce odors Once a self-clean of the oven is complete, you can usually scrape out the charred remains of leftover food. But if you’re still concerned about grease and other stains, try steaming your oven. Norma Capin describes the process: “After baking or cooking in the oven, don't turn it off. Put half a cup of lime juice in it for 15 mins. [This] will help you get rid of the smells right after. It also has antibacterial properties, and after doing it you just have to wipe the oven since it will loosen grease from the walls.” Clean your burners Don’t forget the work that needs to be done on your stovetop. “Many stoves have removable burners, and cleaning these can save you from the fees that come with having to replace them,” advises Bailey Carson, head of cleaning at Handy. “Before cleaning, make sure your stove is completely cool from the last time it was turned on. Then, remove the burners and scrub them with soap and the rough side of a sponge or steel wool to remove any cooked on food remnants.” Carson reminds cleaners to be careful about working near anything flammable. And if you have an electric stove, Carson suggests that you spray it with a multipurpose cleaner and wipe it down with a rag. What now? You might have a long to-do list of chores now, but as you incorporate these simple cleaning tips into your life, you'll find many of them to be quick tasks that have a big payoff. Long-lasting appliances can save you heaps of money, so get to work deep cleaning your fridge and save your pennies for another day.
The home warranty industry could use some disruption. If you’ve read our overview of one-star customer complaints for home warranty, you know that many consumers can run into some recurring issues. A stagnant industry lets companies resist change to the detriment of their clients. That’s why an innovative competitor can refresh our expectations for home warranty providers — and that’s where Liberty Home Guard comes in. Based in New York, the company serves 37 states and boasts a network of over 10,000 service technicians. LHG offers an array of main plans with optional add-ons. Sounds like your typical home warranty company, right? Not exactly. Liberty Home Guard is daring to do a few things differently. We’ve talked with the founders of LHG, Benjamin Joseph and David Moreno, about how they run their company and why it makes a difference. LHG will work with you even if your claim isn’t covered Over half of our one-star reviews in the home warranty industry cite denied claims; some warranty providers seek every opportunity to avoid helping you. “We simply offer our customers as much savings as possible, whether a claim is covered or not covered under the policy,” explain Moreno and Joseph via email. “We do not turn our customers away like most other companies, even if a claim is deemed to not be covered. Most other companies do not offer this value-add since they are likely concerned about the overhead and call/work volume that would be correlated with such an offering.” Some warranty companies pepper their fine print with several circumstances for denying a claim, which can lead to false expectations for customers. Conversely, LHG finds reasons to help customers even if their claims are denied. You’ll be assigned a dedicated account manager through Liberty Lots of warranty providers pass you between customer service associates. You spend time repeating your situation to each employee, none of them able to get the full picture. LHG is doing things differently. “In most cases, customers will be assigned a dedicated account manager and an ancillary team to provide customer support,” Joseph and Moreno tell us. “This ensures that we have a strong rapport with and understanding of our customers.” Positive reviewers note that they like having a dedicated support agent who follows up and serves them through the duration of issue. Liberty Home Guard intensively vets its technicians — and treats them well You’ll also hear disgruntled home warranty customers complain that their technicians made the problem worse. To save on costs, some warranty providers contract entry-level technicians who are building their clientele. But the better practice for companies is to vet their technicians and hire the best. “We perform a multivariate analysis before onboarding any technicians,” say Moreno and Joseph. They explain their process, which begins by programmatically analyzing a potential technician’s digital footprint, looking for any legal issues or bad reviews. Then, LHG interviews contractors, assessing their experience and industry knowledge while analyzing their fit. Approved techs will sign a vendor agreement including rules and regulations, one of which being that they must submit their proof of insurance and licensure. And once a technician is on board, they can expect timely compensation: “We pay our technicians same day for their services. . . . We believe that paying technicians promptly — technicians that are by and large small business proprietors — is both the right thing to do and is good business, as it attracts a higher caliber of technician to our network.” LHG makes claim processing easy If you’re worried about confusing phone trees or long wait times, Liberty Home Guard has you covered. “All our representatives are based in the United States,” the LHG founders note. “In addition, while our competitors have wait times that can approach an hour, our wait times are virtually never more than a few minutes. We believe our team is of the highest caliber in the industry, bar none. We heavily leverage technology and have an automated triage approach for claim intake, where we will do our best to help our customers self-resolve issues before charging them deductibles and assigning technicians.” Or, if a phone call isn’t your thing, LHG has you covered, too. You can manage your account online and on the go Liberty Home Guard has a mobile friendly platform to file claims and manage your account. “We view a mobile-friendly (on a browser) platform as the best and most convenient way for users to interact with Liberty Home Guard.” With some warranty providers, you’d only have the option of calling in. Thankfully, Liberty understands that twenty-first century convenience depends on having a range of ways to contact a company: “Customers do respond positively to the option to manage their account online and through their mobile devices. Ultimately, the more intelligent options we can provide our customers, the more likely we are to suit the diverse set of needs and desires that exist across our customer base.” You won’t be left hanging if a technician is on the way Communication between a client, their home warranty company, and the technician sometimes breaks down through the claim process. But Liberty Home Guard has seen this concern with the unhappy customers of other warranty providers, and they’ve created a process to mitigate missed or cancelled tech appointments: “When servicing a claim, we take several added measures to ensure that communication does not break down after a technician is assigned.” Joseph and Moreno explained to us that the LHG team sends SMS and email reminders to clients with contact information for the assigned tech. You aren’t left in the dark wondering who is coming to assess your situation. Do your homework and see if Liberty Home Guard if the right fit for you Both our team at Best Company and the founders of Liberty Home Guard agree that customer reviews are important. “Make sure the company does not have a lot of negative reviews,” warn Moreno and Joseph. But it’s also important that you find a warranty provider that’s licensed: “Even if you are not in a state that requires licensure, ask if the company is licensed in a state that does, and if the company says they are, ask them for their license number or how it can be proven.” This will require a little work on your part, but using these tips to find the right home warranty company for you can go a long way. It's worth studying up on Liberty Home Guard, a company that works to build positive customer experiences and earn your business. Liberty Home Guard is taking an intentional approach to customer service that is setting a new standard for warranty providers.
report_problem Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly described State Farm as the best option for septic line protection. While State Farm does offer service line coverage, septic lines are NOT fully covered. State Farm's Service Line Endorsement policy only covers the wastewater line between the house and septic tank. It excludes coverage for septic systems, including motors, pumps, tanks, leach fields, and piping extending from the tank to the leach fields. Septic system malfunctions can make for expensive accidents. The average cost to repair a septic tank is $3,198, and that's lowballing it compared to the cost of installing a new system or entirely replacing an old one, which will knock someone back several thousand dollars. It's natural to get cold feet for a septic system when you think of it like this. "We have seen deals fall apart for originally enthusiastic clients, who upon completing their inspections and learning about what having a system of this sort means ultimately backed out," says Alison Bernstein, real estate expert for Suburban Jungle. "They became concerned about the price for a potential replacement, materials, maintenance, etc." If you have a septic system, you're faced with a set of unique challenges that aren't familiar to everyone: sewage backup, leach field overflow, and damaged pipes, to name a few. And with some of these challenges, you can face major costs for repair. It's natural that you want a homeowner's insurance or warranty plan that can help you take care of the costs, whether it's damage to your property or damage to the system. If you're looking for the best options for your septic system, we're going to cover the two main types of coverage — homeowners insurance and home warranty plans — and discuss their similarities and differences. Neither will cover every type of damage to your system, and that's why you should choose your coverage wisely and understand what it offers. Read on to find the best types of coverage for a septic system, and our recommendations. What will homeowners insurance cover for my septic system? In general, homeowners insurance policies cover damage to your home caused by accidents that are sudden and unintended, such as fires, explosions, and theft.However, septic system coverage is limited by the following exclusions: Homeowner negligence— Basic homeowners insurance won't cover anything that was caused by your negligence, such as flushing solid objects down your system or placing heavy objects over the tank. Acts of God — Many insurance companies don't cover flood and earthquake damage — you'll likely need a separate policy to address these perils. As the experts from Fantastic Services note, "Catastrophe insurance policies have a role when disastrous events harm your house. This type of insurance accompanies your standard homeowners' coverage." Systems exterior to the home's foundation — Some insurance plans won't provide full coverage to features outside the home, including your septic system. Here's the rub: Septic systems are generally located outside the four walls of your home. Consequently, it's regular for damage to the septic system itself to be unprotected by a standard homeowners insurance policy, unless the company offers a specific add-on septic system policy. Not Covered By Homeowners Insurance: Most Damage to the Septic System Itself "External damage consists of parking or driving a heavy piece of equipment over the septic tank itself," explains Garrett Lang, CMO of A1 Porta Potty. "Septic tanks are typically 1,000–2,000-gallon concrete boxes. If a heavy enough truck drives over the top of a septic tank, it could cave in the holding tank." Homeowners insurance usually won't cover that, and Lang notes that the only way to fix this damage is to replace the tank. Negligence can also result in internal damage that most homeowners' insurance policies won't cover. "Internal damage consists of sludge exiting the concrete holding tank," Lang explains. "This is what happens when you do not pump the tank every few years. . . . When it dries it can clog up your distribution box or lateral lines and stop the excess water from leaving the tank, rendering your plumbing useless. The only way to remove the dried sludge is to dig up the system." Again, not likely to be something an insurance policy will help you with. Covered By Homeowners Insurance: Damage to Your Home Caused By Septic Problems In fact, Lang advises that most insurance companies aren't going to help until the septic system damages your house, such as in instances where the system clogs and floods your home. What will a home warranty cover for my septic system? Unlike homeowners insurance, a home warranty policy covers the appliances in/around your home from normal wear and tear. Most home warranty plans won't cover these circumstances: Pre-existing conditions — Appliances that are already damaged, don't qualify for coverage. Many home warranty policies require you to wait 30 days before the plan will take effect to ensure that you didn't sign for a plan because you knew one of your devices needed immediate repair. Improper care — Appliances with unnatural wear and tear (such as a system damaged from the failure to pump it) won't qualify for home warranty coverage, either. You'll have to know how to take care of your septic system to be sure the damage was not inflicted by your household. Appliances and systems not specifically mentioned — Appliances not outlined for coverage in the plan won't be eligible. In other words, you're likely going to need a warranty plan with add-on coverage to take care of your septic system; most warranty providers don't include septic systems in their basic packages, but offer septic policy coverage for an additional price. Out-of-network technician damage — If you hire a technician outside of a home warranty companies' network, once you sign its contract, you could be out of luck for any damages the technician would create. "There are many unskilled plumbers out there and amateur septic system installation is a common issue," explain the experts at Fantastic Services. "Before you book a service, know how to find a reliable plumber near you." Coverage for a septic system can be easier to find with a home warranty company than some homeowners insurance providers, which typically require you to submit your information for a quote before they'll answer questions. Here is our top pick for septic system coverage under a home warranty: Our recommendation: Choice Home Warranty Choice Home Warranty is our top-rated home warranty company in the industry. The company has been in business for over a decade, and you can choose septic system coverage for $120 per year and a septic tank pumping for $65 per year. Choice Home Warranty also covers septic system parts, so if items like the tank, line, or pump itself break down, Choice Warranty can help. As Choice Home Warranty's website notes, "The sewage ejector pump, septic tank and line from the house are just a couple of things that are covered in a basic package. There are a few things that we can't cover however, so be sure to read the fine print." Does a manufacturer's warranty cover a septic system? You can't rely on a manufacturer's warranty for your septic system like you might be able to for home appliances like your washing machine or oven. "As far as manufacturers go, there are really no manufacturers' warranties," Lang explains. "The entire system consists of individual pieces installed by an independent contractor." And besides, the average life of a septic system is 25 to 30 years. Most manufacturer's warranties only cover a fraction of that time for appliances, so relying on a warranty wouldn't have been a good lifetime option even if it was an option. Are there any other septic protection plans to know about? The experts from Fantastic Services add that there are a few options outside your basic homeowners insurance: "A service line coverage saves a lot of trouble when damages occur. The policy covers any cost of repairs caused by the lines which provide water, power, and natural gas to your property. They'll also compensate you if a tree root pierces right through your service line." For example, HomeServe USA, offers protection plans that cover damages to plumbing service lines, including sewer and septic. For example, the Exterior Sewer/Septic Line Coverage Plan covers the following: Locating the blockage Excavation (and backfilling) Replacement or repair of pipes, seals, and joints Unblocking Fitting of external valves Pipe cutting, fusing, and welding Restoration of your grass, yard, landscaping, and pavement, when it was disturbed by a covered repair In sum Homeowners thankfully have a couple options for septic system coverage, and some warranty and insurance plans might be worth looking into. However, you should also expect that your policy won't cover everything and plan for routine maintenance on your septic system. With regular maintenance and vigilance, your septic system should have very few accidents.
We have almost 16,000 reviews in our Home Warranty category, but nearly a third of those are 1 star. While this may seem like a staggering amount, it’s not — most of our site’s categories have about a third of their reviews as 1 star. Home Warranty is right with the rest of the pack, or perhaps even a bit lower. But the home warranty industry has its own unique challenges, and these leave some customers wondering if this coverage is worth the cost and the purported “peace of mind.” We’ve compiled our data in an infographic below to give you an idea of what these customer complaints entail; click on the icons in our directory if you’d like to see an in-depth commentary on what this complaint means and how you could avoid your own 1-star home warranty experience. Slow Response Times Claim Denials Customer Service Bad Techs, Cancellation, and Fees *Because we will be reviewing general complaints, all specific company and reviewer names are removed. To better understand a specific company’s feedback, read their reviews. 56% of reviewers complained of slow repair times Your AC breaks on Friday evening in the middle of summer, and you breathe a sigh of relief that your home warranty company has 24/7 customer service. You call in for help. But unfortunately, none of the techs that work through your provider are available on the weekends — you can count on at least a two-day wait. This scenario frustrates over half of 1-star home warranty reviewers. Sometimes miscommunications occur between the warranty provider and the technicians they employ. This could mean the technicians come at a later time than you expected, or not at all. Home warranty companies using contracted technicians can have the drawback of a slow repair time. While warranty providers create policies addressing contractor professionalism and pricing, these policies can be difficult to enforce from a distance. Additionally, some technicians that perform quality work don’t operate through warranty providers. Home warranty companies want to keep costs down, and so a few technicians complain that they use contractors offering the cheapest services. However, this isn't always the case, and it depends on which provider you choose. Here’s what you can do to ensure you’re working with a home warranty company that will give you prompt technicians who provide quality service: Research the companies you're interested in. If you're reading articles like this, you're on the right track. "Do your research," Courtney Keene, the Director of Operations of MyRoofingPal, affirms. "You'll want to read plenty of reviews. Check all of the 2- and 3-star reviews where available. People who leave those ratings tend to be a little more level-headed and analytical rather than emotional in their review." As you've probably guessed from our research, Keene is right; 1-star reviews can sometimes be exaggerated. Consider a home warranty company that lets you choose your own contractor. If timeliness is your biggest priority, you might be able to find a technician that’s on-call 24/7, or a servicer that specializes in the appliances or systems your warranty covers. However, keep in mind that choosing your own contractor will require more responsibility on your end, and home warranty companies that let you pick your own aren’t always able to negotiate rates like they can with in-network servicers. And be careful: some home warranty providers will void your warranty if you use a technician out of their network. You'll want to know if this is an option before you go with a provider. Find a home warranty company with a rigorous pre-screening process for contractors. Get to know what your prospective company looks for in a technician. How many techs are in your area? It’s better to know this before you choose a company; everything about a home warranty is better to know before you need it. Find a warranty provider with an expansive reach. A home warranty company with millions of customers nationwide needs thousands of service technicians. This improves your likelihood of available technicians that specialize in your equipment and are available when you need them. As a bonus, a large customer base indicates a trusted company. Back to Menu 55% of reviewers complained of claim denials The freezer in your garage breaks. While you’re in the process of dumping spoiled food, you call your home warranty company and ask to file a claim. But unfortunately, you didn’t buy coverage for an extra freezer and they can’t approve your request. This isn’t the only scenario where a claim can be denied. Home warranty companies want to ensure they’re only fixing and replacing appliances that truly need it. If an item was defective prior to coverage, or if your item is past a particular threshold of age, these could be grounds to deny your claim. And as this review suggests, your coverage is typically detailed in a long contract. In fact, you can void your warranty by not following building codes, failing to document prior purchases, or causing “unusual wear and tear” to an appliance. That’s why it’s important to mind your contract. You want your to put your home warranty to work when you need it, so here’s what you need to know about filing claims: Get professional help filing a claim. You have to be careful with your words when filing a claim. "Without the help of an experienced, trained professional, a claimant is likely to stick their proverbial foot in their mouth by using language that voids the warranty," says R. J. D'Angelo, a project manager for JWE Remodling and Roofing. D'Angelo explains that 70 percent of his company's work addresses home warranty and homeowners insurance claims, and he recommends legal counsel or a licensed public insurance adjuster to comb over your claim. As an example of accidentally voiding your warranty, he mentions, "Most warranties and insurance policies have exclusions for floods, but most water damage to homes are caused not by floods but by things like burst pipes or storm-damaged roof leaks, which are covered perils. But if the homeowner files a claim and says, 'Water was flooding into my house,' then it’s a clear 'gotcha' for the warranty provider or insurer." Leave a paper trail. If you have coverage questions before signing up for a home warranty company, call and ask. But don’t take a verbal confirmation at face value — ask the customer service rep where you can find that information in your contract. Your agreements should be documented in writing. Use a home inspection. Some home warranty companies advertise no home inspection as an incentive to select them. While this means less hassle initially, a home warranty company then has difficulty verifying if your damaged item was damaged before your contract. A home inspection can solve this, and several good home warranty companies will look at your home inspection report to determine which of your systems are eligible for full coverage based on their age and damage when you signed the contract. "Usually the warranty company will say that something is pre-existing so they don’t have to repair or replace whatever went wrong," says Mary Burak, a real estate professional with over 30 years of experience. "That’s when the home inspection report becomes extremely valuable. At that point, I usually have the homeowner, or myself, take the issue up with one of the heads of the warranty company . . . a decision maker. Problem solved . . . usually!" Get extra coverage. Your AC may be new and you don’t think it will break, but if it does and it isn’t covered by your plan, you’ll wish you’d opted for that additional coverage. Know what a home warranty company will and won’t cover under a basic plan. Sometimes providers will be finicky about their services; you may only receive coverage for a part of a system, but not the whole item. If you have the extras, get coverage for the extras; there are home warranty companies that will cover everything from your trash compactor to your doorbell. Read also: What Can Void Your Home Warranty? Back to Menu 36% of reviewers complained of poor customer service The complaint of poor customer service is a timeless classic. Check out some of our other review analyses and you’ll see that 1-star reviewers are fed up with customer support across the board. Here’s what poor customer service means for home warranty: If you request help by phone, like many other insurance and finance companies, you might expect long wait times, a complicated phone tree, or frustrating automated responses. But this doesn’t have to be your experience. You can avoid a headache from customer support with these tips: Test a call before choosing a company. See how long it takes you to get through to someone at your prospective company. Ask them questions. Do they seem knowledgeable? Are they helpful? If you’re already confused by a warranty provider’s customer service phone tree, imagine how much more frustrating it will be when your washing machine is flooding your laundry room. Choose a company that offers an online claims process. Maybe you don’t want to make a phone call at all. Some home warranty companies give you the option to file online. This might lead to a delay in scheduling a technician, but it can also mean less stress and time wasted on your part. Don't give up. "I speak with the warranty companies about customer service," explains Bruce, a realtor in Atlanta. "Like most insurance companies, I think they want to make it so difficult you just give up." He describes a time when his double oven went out before Thanksgiving. While his warranty provider delivered a Thanksgiving dinner and a gas grill to make up for delayed repairs, a new oven wasn't approved until January after a couple attempts to repair his old one. Bruce's persistence was what got a new oven for his home. Back to Menu 26% cited technician issues; 10% cited cancellation issues; 8% complained of added fees A minority of 1-star reviews complained about issues with a technician, cancellation problems, or hidden fees. Technician issues included technicians that weren’t knowledgeable, acted unprofessionally, or made the problem worse. This could, in part, be due to the fact that they’re independent contractors, and they can sometimes be newbies who accept the low compensation that some home warranty companies offer. It's important to get to know your local technicians and contractors in conjunction with your prospective home warranty provider before you make a selection. Warranty providers typically include the duration of coverage in their contract. If you want to cancel before your contract is complete, that will probably land you a cancellation fee. But it’s also important to give an advance warning that you’d like to cancel before a contract’s renewal date. Like an insurance company, a home warranty company won’t be too flexible about cancellation and renewal. You may also have to issue a physical letter to request termination. This could seem like a hassle, but having a copy of this for your own records and a mailing certificate could protect you from cancellation issues. Then, some home warranties companies may give you a physical letter acknowledging the cancellation of your policy. While all this paper in an increasingly paperless world might seem wasteful, it could keep you from being in the 10 percent of 1-star reviewers who aren’t pleased with their cancellation process. Eight percent of 1-star reviews complained of added fees. Some claim they were charged a service fee when no technician arrived, others were not aware a service fee would be charged. And others still were surprised by the cancellation fees mentioned above. For most of these hiccups, reading your contract is again the solution. Back to Menu The takeaway Online reviews are a helpful tool in gauging customer perspectives, and anyone researching a company should be sure to check out what its clients are saying. Reviews keep companies accountable if they've been irresponsible with consumers' time and money. "The best answer . . . is to check reviews from unbiased review sites," Benjamin Joseph, the founder of Liberty Home Guard, explains. "Customers want to see genuine feedback from like users." But also remember that it's up to you to do your research on your potential contract, coverage, and the competition of your prospective company. Some 1-star reviewers didn't do their part, and that's why they're unhappy. Check our home warranty company reviews to find out more information about which service may be right for you.
You've finally found the perfect home for you and your family. Now all that's left is to put your house on the market. You're probably eager to get your old home off your hands as soon as possible. But with so many homes for sale, how can you expect to stand out from the crowd? Listing your home at a competitive price and having a quality real estate agent are great ways to make your home stand out from the rest. But what else can you do to make your home the best option in relation to the competition? If you're getting ready to sell your home, consider offering a home warranty. It can be a great tool to appeal to potential buyers and to set you apart from the competition. We've compiled the information below to help you decide if getting a home warranty is the right choice for you and your situation. What is a home warranty? A home warranty covers systems and appliances when they need repairs or replacement. When you get a home warranty, certain appliances in your home are covered for restoration or replacement. This is for those who don't have the funds to make expensive repairs to systems and appliances in the home. It's not uncommon for home warranty companies to offer customized home warranty coverage. You'll be able to choose which systems and appliances you want to be covered. This is a great opportunity to cover only older and/or costly systems. And if you choose to take certain appliances with you, such as a microwave or washer and dryer, you can omit it from your home warranty coverage. Will a home warranty affect my sale? Offering a home warranty can positively affect your sale. Home warranties are appealing to buyers, so it could help you sell your house faster. This is especially the case if the homes in your area stay on the market a little longer than you'd like. If anything, a home warranty can help motivate buyers to seal the deal. Harry Keifer, a co-founder of Achosa Home Warranty, LLC (“ACHOSA”) agrees that "a home warranty can often be a tipping point that assists both the buyer and seller to come to agreeable terms for the sale of a home as home warranties give buyers peace of mind. The history of a property and maintenance of its systems are not always available for a client, so the home warranty can protect against the high costs associated with unexpected home repairs." Carol Gee, an experienced home warranty customer tells us that when her sellers offered her and her husband a home warranty with the home, it made all the difference. "The sellers that we bought our lovely, older home from gave us the home warranty for one year and we continue to use a home warranty to this day. If I ever sell my home, I will definitely provide a home warranty." "As new, first-time homeowners (my husband and I are both retired military veterans) who had lived in military homes almost our entire 20 years in service, we were not aware of home warranties and their value. Warranties are really beneficial, especially when you have older appliances." Gee notes that even if you have newer appliances, a home warranty is still worth it. "Most folks think a home warranty isn't needed when their home and appliances are new. However, unless you have several thousand dollars to repair systems and appliances such as your AC, water heater, and oven (all the items I've used my home warranty for), a home warranty will save you a lot of money, even if you have newer appliances. Home warranties to me are much like health and car insurance. You hope you never have to use them but are happy when you do." How much do home warranties cost? If you're considering getting a home warranty for the house you're selling, there are a few things to keep in mind. Depending on the coverage you choose, a home warranty can cost anywhere from $300 to $700 a year. Typically, home warranties last for a year after the closing date on the new home. And depending on the company, service fees per repair can cost between $60 and $100. What are the benefits of offering a home warranty? It's an incentive for buyers Offering a home warranty can be a good incentive for potential buyers. New and experienced buyers alike appreciate the safety net that a home warranty provides. The last thing they'll want to do is get trapped with unexpected expenses on their new home. Especially if the home's appliances are a few years old, a home warranty can save them money. It gives buyers peace of mind Any home that might be considered hard-to-sell will greatly benefit from a home warranty. For example, if you're selling an older home, providing a warranty is a no-brainer. For buyers who are drawn to the visual charm of an older home but who balk at the thought of out-of-date or worn-down appliances, a warranty gives added peace-of-mind. More buyers will take interest in your sale If your home has been sitting on the market for a while, a home warranty can help drum up some interest. It could be the tipping point for potential buyers who weren't previously interested in your home or who are choosing between multiple options. Companies provide reliable technicians Robert Taylor, a home rehabber/flipper in the Sacramento region, tells us that buyers can have peace of mind "knowing a reputable repair person will be doing the repair. They won't need to spend time looking for a qualified person or wondering if the technicians are going to rip them off trying to sell something they don't need. The last thing you need when you have an appliance failure is a salesperson trying to sell you a brand new system when all you need is a thirty dollar part." It covers current building standards Taylor also explains that home warranties cover current building standards in your area, which could save you a great deal of money. "A premium home warranty plan is coverage for repairs that may involve additional costs to bring repairs up to current building standards. For instance, what if a previous homeowner's installation, repair or modification was not done according to local building codes? A premium home warranty plan will provide funds toward any expenses you may encounter in meeting current building standards. "In some cases, appliances that fail may also require upgrading other components. For example, in California, if you replace your HVAC unit, you'll be required to upgrade your ducting to be energy efficient (Title 24). If you buy only a budget home warranty [or no home warranty at all], you could end up paying several thousand dollars for the upgrades out of your own pocket." It saves buyers money Benjamin Ross, Realtor and Landlord, notes that, "Home warranties are very affordable and offer the new homeowner, who is still a stranger to his new house, a little peace of mind that everything will be okay. I would say from my experience that the most sought after benefit a home warranty has to offer is the ability for the homeowner to have the HVAC system repaired or replaced affordably." Repairs like this can be extremely costly, especially for a new homeowner. Knowing these types of repairs will be covered under a home warranty could put potential buyers at ease. Clara Nicolosi, Owner and Broker of RE/MAX in Hot Springs, Arkansas, agrees with Ross that home warranties are a great benefit, especially for new homeowners. "I am a big fan of Home Warranties, especially for first time home buyers. The advantage of having the home warranty is that many of the mechanical and electrical items in the home will be repaired at a much-reduced cost. The cost is typically a "trade fee" and this amount can vary by home warranty company, but it is typically around $75." That is a small price to pay for a repair or replacement of a big system or appliance that would otherwise cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. For a new homeowner, that could do wonders for your budget. "Having a heat pump go out in the winter and only paying a trade fee to get it repaired, or in some cases replaced, can make or break a new home buyer's budget. I would shop around and find the best home warranty company for your situation, and I am a big fan of having the name and phone number of a representative (a warm body)." Taylor knows that not all buyers will think they need a home warranty, but it's important to explain to buyers that the peace of mind and added protection is worth it. "Buyers may be tempted to avoid a home warranty to save on costs, but it's always a good idea to obtain one, even if your home is brand new. You should think of a home warranty like an insurance policy. You wouldn't think of buying a house without fire insurance. It's just as prudent to make sure you include a home warranty when you buy a home. "After purchasing a home, you may not have the financial ability to handle any significant repairs or equipment failures. Appliances, HVAC systems, and hot water heaters can all fail without notice, even when they look brand new. It's hard to predict if or when an appliance will fail, just like trying to predict if you'll have a house fire." When is a home warranty unnecessary? When your home will sell quickly without one As hard as it is to believe, there might be some situations in which offering a home warranty isn't necessary. If other homes in your area are selling quickly, then it's not worth spending your money on a home warranty. Buyers are clearly already looking for homes in your general area, so you probably don't have to worry about your house sitting on the market for too long. When the home you're selling is a foreclosure Ross also explains that a home warranty likely isn't necessary if it's a home that needs major repairs — a foreclosure, for example, that is being bought by investors looking to buy cheap and flip the home quickly would not be interested in a home warranty. "This is a good thing as many of these homes are not eligible for a full home warranty anyways. Other than that, I can see no reason why a buyer would not want a home warranty included in the sale of their new home." What are the downsides to a home warranty? There's no pre-existing condition coverage Warranty companies have a few specific requirements to keep in mind. Home warranties don't fix pre-existing conditions or appliances that are already broken. Also, your buyers must regularly check and maintain every system and appliance covered by the warranty. An appliance that breaks down due to a lack of maintenance probably isn't covered. The homeowners would have to arrange and pay for those repairs themselves. You can't receive coverage for damages incurred by a broken system or appliance A warranty covers any appliance or system that's broken, but it doesn't repair any damages that occur as a result of the broken appliance. For example, if a dishwasher malfunctions and overflows, the warranty fixes or replaces the dishwasher. But it doesn't repair water damage that occurs because of the broken dishwasher. Again, that'll be left to the homeowners to arrange and pay for those repairs on their own — or use their homeowner's insurance. They require hefty contracts Ross also tells us the downside to a home warranty is the hefty contract you have to sign. "Sometimes you need to be a lawyer to fully understand the home warranty contract. For the typical homeowner, there is a lot left to assumption. It takes a lot of effort to dig down and see what your home warranty is really all about. Also, home warranty companies will go to great measures to repair before they replace. You might have an outdated HVAC system that really should be replaced, but the home warranty company may be reluctant and opt to repair rather than replace it. Most home warranty companies will go to great lengths to band-aid it for as long as they can. This can be very frustrating for the homeowner." Certain companies may have slow repair times Nicolosi also notes another downside. "A downside is each home warranty company has its rules and response times, and sometimes these may not align with how fast we would like the repair completed." To make this as convenient as possible, Nicolosi suggests "Do your research and pick the home warranty that is right for you." Look at home warranty reviews and see which company has positive feedback from consumers and quick response times. This will ensure you are satisfied with your home warranty company because they are responsive and have a satisfied customer base. How can I find a good warranty? Do your research Before you take the plunge, do some research to ensure that you're buying the best warranty. When you get on the phone with a warranty company, there are a few questions you want to ask. With so many warranty companies out there, it's important to make sure you don't get scammed. You want to know what to look for in terms of reputable warranty companies. Read the fine print When you finally decide on a company, make sure to read the fine print. There might be some terms and conditions that cause some problems in the future. For example, keep an eye on how long the warranty contract lasts. If it's longer than a year, you may have reason to be suspicious. Keifer recommends "that you do your own initial research on the market and on real estate professionals in your area to get started. Clarity is important, so take the time to read the fine print and ask questions along the way. Partnering with a reputable real estate professional that has quality local market insights is the best way to ensure your success in promptly selling your home at a price that meets your expectations." What else should I consider when selling a home? Think about getting a home inspection Sure, a home warranty is a convenient service for new homeowners. But chances are, they'll prefer not having to use it at all. Get a pre-home inspection to make sure that all major appliances and systems are running smoothly. Getting a home inspection will cost extra, but it's well worth it. It'll also give you a good idea of what your net proceeds are. Repair appliances and make necessary upgrades If any of your appliances are a bit worn down, make any and all repairs necessary. Even consider making upgrades if an appliance or two are in bad shape. Any steps you can take that will make the move-in process easier for potential buyers are well worth it. Provide a warranty credit Ross also suggests giving the buyer a warranty credit. "Assuming you are selling a functional home, you should offer your prospective buyers a warranty credit. This tells them that you are comfortable with the home's operating systems. Is a home warranty worth it? That's the big question. Should a seller offer a home warranty? Offering a home warranty can increase prospective buyers' interest in your home. You can avoid a few major problems for your home buyers — and yourself — by making sure that you choose a trustworthy warranty company with an excellent reputation. Most buyers will appreciate a home warranty with their new home. If your home has been on the market for a while, it'll most likely help speed things along. Don't underestimate the power of free services. Post also contributed by Natalie Issa Natalie Issa is a content specialist for Credit.com. Her experience spans working with a variety of content, including blog posts and journalistic articles, as well as film and podcasts. She's applied her writing and editing expertise in the retail and digital industries at companies, such as Overstock.com and Deseret Digital Media, while applying her creativity to passion projects in her personal time.
Guest Post by Mission Federal Credit Union Anyone who has started a large home project knows that budgeting properly is everything. Your budget ultimately decides how much you can do, how quickly you can do it and at what price-point. Your budget will be one of the driving forces behind the contractors you hire to do the work and the materials they use to finish the job. Everything comes down to the amount of money you’re willing to spend. Yet, budgeting for home improvements or repairs can feel like an uphill battle. Even when you think you know how much a project will cost, it inevitably goes over budget, over your timeline, and sometimes over your stress threshold. How can you set a practical budget for home repairs or improvement, while still being realistic about the surprise costs that can arise? Here are ten tips to help you set your expectations and budget: 1. Start with a preferred budget and set a maximum cap for unseen issues It’s always possible to do more and spend more money, but that’s not practical for most people. Start by going through your finances and deciding what you’re willing to spend and where your limit is. It’s easy to be allured by the possibility of all the new updates, but you don’t know exactly what things will cost until the work begins. For that reason, stay on the conservative end of your budget and make it clear that you won’t go above a certain price. 2. Research the best way to pay for the work Few of us have the cash at hand to pay for renovations or home repairs outright. You’ll probably need to pay with credit or a loan, so think carefully about which options work best for you. You might be able to use a credit card depending on the project. Keep your credit card limit and the interest rate in mind before deciding to max out your card. If you’re a homeowner, you could consider taking out a home equity loan or a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit), both of which allow you to borrow against the equity you’ve built in your home. A home equity loan is ideal for items like a new roof, solar panels or all new hardwood flooring, because you know approximately how much it will cost before you start the work. A HELOC, on the other hand, works well for ongoing repairs and a bathroom remodel (pricing out each towel and accessory can get tedious) because you only borrow money as you need it. Look for great interest rates to keep costs as low as possible and consider exploring credit union home loans, like those from Mission Federal Credit Union, for their competitive rates and terms. 3. Consider a Home Warranty Another option to take care of the cost of home repairs is purchasing a home warranty. Costing typically between $300 and $600 per year with a $50-$100 service fee per trade service visit, you can get coverage for all of your major home systems and appliances. Especially if you have an older home, a home warranty may be worth it and could save you money in repairs. Here is a list of common systems and appliances that top-rated home warranty providers usually cover in their basic warranty plans: Heating system Electrical system Plumbing system Plumbing stoppage Water heater Whirlpool bathtub Oven/range/stove Cooktop Dishwasher Built-in microwave Garbage disposal Ductwork Garage door opener Ceiling and exhaust fans A home warranty can not only provide peace of mind that you won’t have to pay out of pocket for these pricey repairs, but it can also save you money and free up more money for your desired home improvements. It’s important to note that home warranty companies often allow you to customize your own plan, so you can select the specific home systems and appliances that you want coveraged. 4. Be clear about what you want Before you meet with a contractor, list your must-have items and your would-like-to-have items, knowing that you may have to sacrifice your wants for your needs depending on your budget. When you’re first meeting with a contractor, be clear about your project goals and expectations. Your largest goal might be to update your kitchen with new appliances and replacing the countertops, while replacing or refinishing the kitchen cabinets might be lower on your list of priorities. Consider all the possible updates you might want to make and let your designer and contractor know where your stopping point is, both in terms of time and money. 5. Consider where you’re willing save money You’ll also want to consider areas in which you’re willing to forego “top-of-the-line” products to save money. Are you willing to refinish the cabinets rather than replace them? Can you live with the existing faucets or replace them with faucets from your local hardware store and not the designer showroom? Are you able to recycle existing items to save on materials? Also ask the contractors where you could jump in to help complete the work. You might be able to save money by helping with demo, painting, or installation of small items. 6. Finalize the details before the work starts Many surprise costs arise when you haven’t made decisions about materials or finishings. If you know exactly what you’re buying — hardwoods versus laminate, granite versus polished concrete — and what you’re willing to pay for it, you’ll have a much clearer idea of the total cost. 7. Get a hard quote rather than an estimate An estimate may give you a rough idea of what a project will cost, but the actual cost can vary quite a bit from the estimate. A hard quote, on the other hand, details the various expected costs and time required for each step of the job. Because of the amount of work that goes into a hard quote, you’ll likely have to pay a fee. However, it’s worth it to have a clear idea of what you’re getting into so you can adjust as necessary. 8. Stick with a fixed-price contract Generally, there are two kinds of contracts for home improvements and repairs. There’s a time-and-materials contract, which allows for increases in cost of materials and extra time required for labor on more difficult projects. Contractors usually prefer this kind of contract, because it allows for flexibility and often means the contractor can charge more in the long run. A fixed-price contract, however, begins with a detailed budget agreed upon by both parties. This budget then requires that the contractor carefully consider all costs and materials required to add to the budget. Then, once work has begun, any additional work and costs outside of the original budget must be discussed. 9. Communicate regularly throughout the project It’s easier to be surprised by costs and timelines when you’re not in regular contact with the people completing the work. Make sure you’re speaking to your contractor regularly so you’re up to date on the project’s progress and know where you stand on your budget. 10. Be prepared to go over budget anyway Renovations and home repairs rarely stay precisely on budget. There’s almost always a surprise of some kind once the work begins — a problem with electrical, dry rot in the framing, evidence of a leak — so plan on spending a little more than the quote estimates. If you put some money aside under the assumption that you’ll need it, it won’t be as jarring when you have to use it. 11. Keep your end goal in mind Let’s be honest — it can be tough to live through a home renovation project. Remember why you’re doing the work and what you hope to achieve at the end of it to keep your spirits and patience on the right track. Picturing the “why” of your project will also help you make smart decisions throughout the process. It’s easy to get wrapped up emotionally in the project details and delays. Knowing that your new larger bathroom will help simplify your life, even if the perfect wall mirror is out of budget, will help you choose a mirror that’s just as nice and fits within your budget. As you get started on your project, remember that home repairs and improvements can be difficult to budget for precisely because it’s hard to know what you’ll find once you start construction. Be open and honest with your contractor about your budget cap and work with them to keep costs on budget, and remember that communication throughout the entire project is key. Even after all that, it’s best to plan to overshoot your budget just a bit anyway. Whether you use a Home Equity Loan, a HELOC or another form of credit to pay for improvements in your home, it’s a good idea to meet with a mortgage lender to make sure you choose the right loan for your needs. For home repairs, consider researching top home warranty companies to decide if a home warranty is right for you.Know your limits and remember your ultimate goal for each home project — to make your home an awesome place to live! The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.
Pleasant Grove, UT - January 7, 2019 - Landmark Home Warranty has been named the 2019 Consumer's Choice Award recipient in the home warranty industry by BestCompany.com, an independent consumer review site. Landmark Home Warranty was selected to receive this recognition from among 49 other home warranty companies based on a comprehensive market index score and the feedback of verified customers through reviews. "We wish to recognize Landmark Home Warranty with the Consumer’s Choice Award for 2019. They've earned it,” said BestCompany.com CEO Landon Taylor. “Our hope is that this recognition will highlight a company that is doing business the right way by taking care of its customers and always looking for ways in which it can improve." Landmark Home Warranty distinguished itself from its competitors by providing customizable warranty plans and comprehensive homeowner support, as well as including pest control services in each of its packages. That, combined with an extremely high customer review score of 4.2 out of 5 based on more than 2,200 real customer reviews, propelled Landmark Home Warranty to an impressive overall score of 9.4 out of 10, the highest in the industry. To read consumer reviews for the top-rated home warranty provider, view Landmark Home Warranty’s profile on bestcompany.com. For additional information and comparisons, access the full list of home warranty companies considered for this award, as well as their respective scores and customer reviews. About Landmark Home Warranty A leader in the home warranty industry, Landmark Home Warranty was founded in 2004 and protects more than 70,000 homeowners each year. The company currently offers comprehensive home warranty services for residential properties in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Utah, and is working to expand its operations nationwide. In each region Landmark Home Warranty operates, it has local representatives and independent licensed contractors to deliver excellent service and fulfill customer needs. Visit the company’s website to learn more about Landmark Home Warranty. About BestCompany.com BestCompany.com ranks and reviews companies across hundreds of different industries. Unlike many other review sites, companies listed on BestCompany.com cannot buy their position, nor is a company’s ranking manipulated or inflated by BestCompany.com for financial gain. Instead, a company’s ranking is based on BestCompany.com’s proprietary Best Rank algorithm, which is powered by verified customer reviews and an objective set of ranking criteria. For more information on how BestCompany.com scores and ranks companies, please visit the How We Rank page.
Guest Post by Credit.comMany homeowners have a home warranty. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t fully understand everything that can void their home warranty. This lack of knowledge can be expensive when the homeowner tries to make a warranty claim.This article will cover some of the things that can void your home warranty. Also, every warranty is a little different, so you should examine your contract to understand anything that could void your specific warranty. How a home warranty works A home warranty works like any other warranty. You purchase it through a third party, they do an inspection, and then you can begin the warranty process.When something covered by the warranty breaks, you call your warranty provider. The provider will then send an approved repair person to fix your issue.If you don’t call the warranty company when you have an issue, you most likely won’t receive any reimbursement for the product. This varies by company though, and you should fully understand your contract before inquiring about any warranty repairs. What is covered by a home warranty? A home warranty can cover many different things depending on the policy. The following is a list of some things that your home warranty might cover. Keep in mind, this varies depending on the policy and the level of service that you purchase. Air conditioning Heating Dishwasher Ductwork Electrical components in your home (fuses, fuse box, etc.) Oven Stove Plumbing Water heater Unauthorized repairs One common way that homeowners void their warranty is by performing unauthorized repairs. This could include using a licensed contractor that is not approved by your warranty provider. It also includes using an unlicensed contractor or attempting to do the repairs yourself.The contractors that home warranty providers use are manufacturer authorized contractors, and this means that they only use authorized parts for repairs and know the proper procedures. Jerry-rigging, or low-quality repairs, are rarely done by manufacturer authorized contractors.Furthermore, all manufacturer authorized contractors put the repair work into a database with the corresponding serial number for the parts. The next repairman will be able to access this database and quickly determine the repairs that have occurred on your home.If you feel tempted to do the repairs yourself because you think you can get away with it, then you should know that authorized service providers can easily determine if a repair has been done or attempted. They can usually tell because of the low-quality parts used or the insufficient repair work.In other words, it’s not worth it to do the repair yourself. It might save you money in the short term, but it will cost you money if the warranty provider discovers it and voids your warranty completely. Unauthorized installation Unauthorized installation is another common way that a warranty can be voided. This usually happens when a homeowner decides to do an installation themselves.Not only must you have an authorized contractor maintain your appliances and fixtures, but the authorized contractor must also install the fixtures. Again, it is done this way so that a proper paper trail manifests for the equipment. Not making prompt repairs Every warranty provider will want you to make prompt repairs. The exact definition of prompt varies by the warranty, so check your contract to see the exact terms. If you have a leaky roof and ignore it, then don’t expect much sympathy if you try to file a claim on your destroyed ceiling fan. It just doesn’t work that way.Prompt repair issues normally occur when you have a small problem that turns into a much bigger and much more expensive problem after being ignored. Plumbing stoppages are one example where this can happen.A homeowner may notice a slow draining faucet and ignore it for a year. The problem could have easily been fixed simply by calling a plumber to snake the pipe. However, the homeowner waited too long, and the plumbing system rusted, so the pipe developed a leak.The home warranty in that scenario might be void since the homeowners could have easily prevented the problem if they had taken the proper steps and ensured preventative maintenance.Overall, remember that pushing off a minor repair could void your warranty. You should always make repairs as soon as you notice them to ensure your warranty stays valid. Also, make sure that you use the proper channels to do any repairs. Unusual wear and tear Warranties do not generally cover the effects of normal wear and tear to equipment. They only cover replacements and damage when a product breaks due to a manufacturer defect or when it breaks during normal use. If you intentionally put your appliances under stress, then you will most likely void the warranty.Examples of unusual wear and tear might include bent ceiling fans from hanging something on the blades. Other issues could be a large amount of grease in your plumbing (improper disposal) or a frozen air conditioner from keeping the air too cold. However, this stipulation can be quite subjective. Generally, the warranty company will assume the wear and tear.A good way to avoid unusual wear and tear is to make sure that you constantly maintain your appliances and fixtures. Also, follow the usage guidelines outlined in the owner’s manual. If an appliance has clear instructions on how to use it, then do not deviate from those instructions. Lack of documentation Do you tend to misplace your receipts or user manuals? Don’t do that if you want to maintain your home warranty. The receipt, user manual, and other documentation that comes with new products and equipment often contain everything that you need to set up and secure your warranty. Your home warranty provider might also require this documentation before beginning any repairs.It can be difficult because a home warranty will often cover all kinds of different appliances and you might keep the documentation for your air conditioner, but not many homeowners keep documentation for their ceiling fan or garbage disposal.A good method to employ so that you don’t lose your documentation is to keep it in a place where it won’t get mixed up with other documents.Another good way to keep your documents safe is to keep a scanned copy on your computer. When doing this, make sure that you scan all the documentation and that it is easy to read. You don’t want a blurry copy. Additionally, ensure you have a backup copy available as well. A scanned copy might not always work for your home warranty, but it is better than nothing. The best thing you can do is to keep the physical copy. Not following building codes Do you keep your home up to code? Most homeowners don’t keep their home up to code, and this might sound surprising.Many municipalities will update building codes every year. The only reason homeowners have for making sure their building is up to code is when they want to do a renovation. A city home inspector will visit the property and only issue a permit if the building meets building code.Your warranty might become void if you fail to stay up to code, which is a good reason to stay up to code on your home. This might sound strict, but building codes are put in place to ensure the safety of your home. The types of violations that can void your warranty tend to be the ones relating to safety, which usually relate to plumbing and electric. Final thoughts A home warranty might be financially responsible, or it might not make financial sense. This will vary from person to person. If you do decide to go with a home warranty, then you certainly want to make sure you don’t accidentally void it. Following the steps listed above should help ensure that your warranty always stays valid.Make sure that you review your contract to find any other scenario that could possibly void your warranty and be sure to report any damages or issues immediately, so they can get repaired.
Guest post from Credit.comEvery day, millions of Americans are talking with banks, advisors, and finance industry leaders to see if buying home warranties is worth the effort. Many people hold a simplified view of warranties in general. The line of thinking is that if an item breaks, malfunctions, or needs basic work, a home warranty goes into effect to replace or fix the issue at hand. Generally, this is true. For example, according to bankrate.com, “When your 20-year-old refrigerator springs a leak, what do you do? Your first instinct may be to decide between a costly repair and an even costlier replacement.” With a home warranty, the refrigerator repair could potentially be free. Home warranties defined Many contemporary home purchases come with home warranty policies considered by buyers to be a significant perk built into the purchase. The warranty goes to work for the homebuyer when significant repairs on certain appliances, plumbing, heating, and cooling equipment are required. Thus, homebuyers have a boosted sense of confidence when making their home purchases, with the knowledge that even if costly repairs might eventually be required, they will be covered by the warranty. Issues associated with home warranties According to Tri-Region CEO Carl Knighten, “A home warranty contract promises to keep working items working for a certain time period, usually one year.” In today’s day and age, a year is nothing, especially when it comes to a long-term investment such as a home. One trend for homebuyers is to seek out a home they fall in love with and want to spend the rest of their lives in. Long gone are the days when the majority of the populace moved around from area to another. More people today are staying put, investing in their homes through remodeling and renovation and personalizing them to their heart’s content. For the person or family who loves their home and has no intention of moving soon, a one-year warranty is practically a joke.Major equipment will rarely fail, break, or need replacement within a year's time. It is only after many years of inclement weather, rust, corrosion, and other conditions such as age that homes often need significant repairs. Two types of home warranties Homebuilder warranties: Attached to newly built homes, these warranties are priced into the selling price of the home. A Home Builder warranty usually has coverage lasting six months for appliances and spans ten years for structural damage defects, a single year of coverage for paint, drywall, and stucco, and two years covering HVAC and electrical and plumbing defects. Home warranties via company policy: Home warranties are company policies put in place for the buyers of pre-existing homes. Typically, real estate agents or the seller of the home pay for the home warranty policy and build it into the price of the home. Costing around $200 to $300, home warranty policies will cover specific appliances, in addition to the furnace, plumbing, and air conditioning systems for a year. There is almost always a deductible involved of around $100 per repair that applies to each repair service rendered. Additional facts about home warranty policies Available to homeowners and homebuyers, particularly after the purchase of a foreclosed property Banks will not pay for home warranties on homes that are sold via short sale or foreclosure, so the cost of the warranty is the burden of the buyer Home warranty policies are thought to give homeowners and homebuyers peace of mind in potentially problematic situations, but many people who buy these warranties are unclear on what coverage entails Warranties exist to ensure important components in the home function properly and do not provide homeowners with new equipment or any kind of replacement What often happens is that the consumers get angry and confused, as inevitably the decision to purchase new equipment or pay the deductible for repair services becomes an issue. They also dislike the overall lack of control they have in any type of repair process, including the specific subcontractor sent to perform the work.People want home warranty policies to be clearer, but that also means that consumers need to realign their expectations for repairs and replacements and realize they are ultimately getting the services they are paying for. If you have a cheaper home warranty policy, you are likely going to have to pay a higher deductible, and you aren’t going to get as much coverage as you would for a more expensive plan.Consumer complaints typically arise because customers don't understand the terms of their home warranty contract and what's covered in their policy. Anyone interested in a home warranty should read through the fine print to ensure the policy is clear before signing a contract.Thankfully, home warranties have a variety of plan options for consumers so they can personalize their contract to best fit their needs. Home warranties can be beneficial if you make yourself familiar with the policy beforehand. Benefits of home warranties Undeniably, home warranty policies can provide a bevy of tangible benefits for some homeowners. Particularly with recent purchases of older homes, home warranties can save owners a significant amount of money, depending on the extent of repairs needed. However, this will not apply to every homeowner. Some homeowners will rarely, if ever, have to contact their home warranty company for a repair, thus having spent the money on an unneeded policy.However, homeowners can not always accurately predict if they will need a home warranty or the potential extent of repairs their property will need over time. As a result, homeowners need to set realistic expectations to make the policy worthwhile. Making your home warranty policy optimal for your situation largely depends on the property you bought. After doing a self-inspection, hire a professional to do a comprehensive inspection of the home. Factoring in the age of the home and the overall condition, you can then research to compare the coverage levels available and their associated deductibles to decide what is right for your particular situation. Plenty of homeowners will insist on buying a home warranty for the peace of mind it affords, despite the condition and age of the home. Purchasing a home warranty is not so much a guessing game as it is a compilation of information and your set of expectations attached to the home warranty. An older house with a few obvious issues is a great candidate for a home warranty, while a house built two years ago that exhibits no issues through professional inspection might not benefit from a warranty. Taking care of your property is an important factor that comes into play as well. Keep up with regular maintenance, servicing, and cleaning of important equipment and systems. Doing so may save you from ever having to get in contact with your home warranty company. Even so, the company will come fix your equipment that has failed from normal wear and tear, but you will pay a deductible.Home warranties are vital resources for countless homeowners and can save them money. For many other homeowners, a home warranty is essentially a waste of money for a resource that never ends up getting utilized. To decide whether a home warranty is a good decision for you, take stock of the age, condition, and usage of appliances in the home. Read reviews of top-rated home warranty companies, such as Landmark Home Warranty (rated #1 on Best Company) and determine what home warranty company is right for you.