It’s true. Northerneer buys you a home warranty when you allow us to inspect the home you’re buying. End of story. Kinda.
Home warranties have been around for a long time. Most warranties cover a variety of things like the furnace or your dishwasher. I went on a quest to find the best warranty I could find for home inspection clients. This quest took months, multiple sales calls, trainings and talking with homeowners to hear their experiences. If you know me, I don’t choose chintzy services or low-value products. Moreover, I like to speak directly to owners or developers to learn the back end. All of that led me to Residential Warranty Services better known as RWS.
There’s this thing that happens sometimes in the inspection world. We inspect a home, and a month or two later, the client calls to let us know their furnace went caput on the 3rd day after moving in. It’s not our fault. It’s not their fault. That is to say, it just happens and there is no way to predict that. In fact, this happened to a recent client of mine and I felt SO bad. But in these cases, unfortunately, there is nothing I could do other than refer her to a very good HVAC contractor to look at the furnace. I needed to figure out if this was really ALL I could do? That’s what lead me to search for the elusive and inclusive home warranty.
Let’s look at some of the fine print of the 90-Day Structural-Mechanical warranty:
MECHANICAL COVERAGE SUMMARY: Plumbing: Water
lines, faucets, water heaters, drain lines, gas lines. Electrical: Main service panel, secondary service panel, and
wiring. Appliances: Kitchen Appliances including and limited to oven, range, dishwasher, built-in microwave, trash compactor, and garbage disposal. Heating/Air (HVAC): Furnace, Air Conditioner, and Thermostats.
Not too shabby. What about the structural?
STRUCTURAL COVERAGE SUMMARY: Poured Concrete & Block wall foundations. Floor joists, bottom & top plates, and wall members. Roof leak repair (does not include replacement of bad shingles), load bearing walls, attached garage doors.
As an inspector, I can think of precisely one-million things (that’s an exact figure) that could go wrong with these things. I wanted to know the “limitations”. Are they fair? Let’s read:
This contract only covers those items that were confirmed to be in good working order at time of inspection and excludes all others, regardless of their condition at the time of inspection or if they were repaired.
Ok, that’s fair. They wont cover defective items found during the inspection. What else should we know?
This contract excludes all appliances, climate control systems, and fixtures over 10 years old. This contract does not cover plumbing stoppages, regardless of reason.
Ten-years is often the expected lifespan of most appliances. I even checked my trade-associations appliance life-expectancy chart to see for myself. They even say the life of a furnace is 15-25 years. And I can tell you after working in HVAC, not many get to the 25 year mark. I took a long time to consider this because is 10-years really fair for my clients?? I think, yes. After all, they also cover things like stoves, dishwashers, electrical and even the foundation too.
What actually sold me on RWS was the 5-Year Platinum Roof Warranty. I’ll show you that one too:
This service contract is for the repair of leaks to your home’s roof for a period of 5 years following
the date of inspection. This service contract covers only those items specifically listed and
excludes all others, subject to the terms and conditions herein. This policy covers all residential roof types, including asphalt/composition shingles, slate roofs, metal roofs, tile roofs, and non-commercial flat roof types. This policy applies only to the home itself, and specifically excludes other structures.
Again, they wont cover defects found during the inspection. I think we all agree that’s reasonable. But 5-years… and all roof types. That’s what got me. Especially after completing hundreds of roof inspections for insurance underwriters and claim verifications over the years. I’m here to tell you, that spontaneous leak wont always be covered unfortunately. So this warranty may help to fill that gap. (Note: This warranty is not an insurance policy.)
The Mold-Safe and Sewer-Guard warranties are comparable and also included with your home inspection. Mold-Safe covers new visible bio-growth remediation up to $2,000. Sewer-guard covers up to $6,000 in sewer or water line repairs. (ask me about my client who discovered tree roots growing through 32 feet of her sewer line. Uhh.)
In conclusion, all home warranties are limited. But they can offer a level of protection for the basics and especially during the critical three-month period after the inspection.
RWS does offer an 18-month extension on the warranty, which at the time of writing this, was less than $35/month. Knowing what it costs to replace things, it may be something we consider for our own home.
Have a happy day.