Updated: Jun 26, 2021
Hire a professional licensed and bonded home maintenance crew for less than $1,000 a year.
Every homeowner on a budget should maintain a home warranty, let them fix or replace your defective items.
I would suggest every homeowner on a budget maintain a home warranty, they cost about $300-$600 annually. There is a set service fee when contractors come out around $40-$100 per trade depending on the company/plan you choose. There is no home inspection required and they cover your home in good faith that all covered items are in working order at the time of the contracts execution. It is for that reason that most companies have a minimum 30 day waiting period before paying out on claims. However, it's like having your own maintenance crew kind of like apartment living.
They will fix or replace defective items based on the technicians diagnosis. Like dealing with any technician some aren't very honest. So if you run into one or several... let the home warranty know, request them to be placed on your do not return list and request a second opinion. There are times when you have to go through red tape but to me it's worth it. I have had 6 houses over the past 20 years and I'm a strong advocate for a home warranty.
It's worth it because they always pay out more than it cost me to keep their service. I just received my brand new 5 burner stainless steel stove, garbage disposal, refrigerator, deep freezer & dishwasher for $75 TOTAL. In 2019 I received a BRAND NEW DUAL FUEL HVAC System ie. furnace, heat pump and air conditioner installed for the grand total of $75. A few years back I received a new Frigidaire side by side refrigerator with in door ice and water for $60 bucks. Not to mention plumbing repairs for burst pipes, electrical service calls to rewire a 3-way switch and a few outlets, appliance service calls to replace the washing machine drain pump and dryer control board, etc. The $75 service fee alone is cheaper than paying a contractor to diagnose the item in most cases.
I have had several home warranty companies over the years because sellers give them away as an incentive to purchase. Choice Home Warranty was the cheapest and worst. HWA Home Warranty and 2-10 Home Warranty were okay. However, First American Home Warranty FAHW's Premier Plan with First Class Upgrade and Additional Refrigeration is my go to because they cover items most don't cover ie. Permits and Building Code upgrades when needed as a part of the repair, A/C refrigerant, up to 5 refrigerators, they return sheetrock to a rough finish if they have to cut it for a plumbing repair, pretty much the entire power garage door system including remote controls, plumbing fixtures, heat pumps etc. As long as you are assertive when dealing with them and keep meticulous notes you will be fine.
Average ticket- is the term that many home warranty companies use when considering which contractor to assign to your claim. This means that whoever has the lowest average ticket in your area will receive future work. Therefore, authorizations for repairs are not made based on the quality of work but whoever will cut the most corners to cut their cost. Ultimately, reducing the home warranty's expenses. This usually results in lower quality work and a bad experience for the homeowner.
Second Opinion- If your claim has been denied you maintained good documentation supporting why you feel it should be covered based on the contract, you can request a second opinion.
FAHW will reimburse for 2nd opinions, prior authorization is required and can be obtained from your claims representative or Pre Authorizations 1-800-553-6699. Fax the diagnosis and bill to Claims Authorizations 1-800-700-4457 or email ClaimReview@firstam.com.
Recall period- Is the timeframe in which you can request the home warranty to send the contract back out for the same item and the service fee will be waived.
Note: FAHW's recall period is 30 days from the date the contractor reported the item fixed.
Replacement Item- If numerous attempts to repair your item have been made in a short timeframe or if your item can't be repaired they will make you a replacement offer. Replacement items must match features, efficiency and capacity. If the item offered isn't comparable let them know why and they will reassess/provide a comparable unit. Once a comparable item has been offered you can choose to accept the item or request a cash buyout. You can then use the cash to purchase the unit you want, such as an upgraded model, and submit proof of purchase for coverage. Or you can just pocket the money and added to your emergency fund:-)
Whenever you place a claim ask every item covered under that trade. If you are concerned about anything add that item to your claim too. For example, for FAHW an appliance service fee covers refrigerators, freezer, washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, stove and built in microwaves. So it makes sense if your primary concern is with the refrigerator to also add any possible concern you have with all the other items because they would be covered under the same $75 service fee. Otherwise, if you only place the claim for the refrigerator and they fix it then 25 days later you call in an issue with the stove you will pay another $75 service fee. However, if you initially put it on the claim and called in 25 days later it would be covered under the recall period and there would be no additional service fee.
Technicians concerned about their average ticket more than repairing your issue will generally advise you an item is not covered by the home warranty prior to diagnosing the issue. Or they will explain a portion of the repair is covered but an additional repair is also required but not covered. When this occurs make sure you do your due diligence to ensure they are giving you an accurate diagnosis, you may have a compelling case to request a 2nd opinion.
The technicians don't work for your home warranty company. Nor do they know what your company covers. So feel free to gently remind them of that fact;-)
Also do not volunteer any information regarding prior repairs, DIY or professional, how long you have been in the home etc. to the technician. It okay to smile and politely say I don't recall. Some dishonest technicians will try and use any information you provide to report back to your home warranty.
If possible try to obtain a copy of the diagnosis prior to the technician leaving your home. Strangely many stories change in translation, trust me!
As a new or current homeowner attend YouTube University you will learn a lot. Talk to your neighbors, family and friends they can also be a great source of help. Knowledge is power and it helps when dealing with contractors:-)
This is not an endorsement for any particular home warranty nor am I being paid to provide this review. However, I have the Premium Plan with First Class Upgrade & Additional Refrigeration through First American Home Warranty. If you would like to purchase any of their plans and use my link https://refer.fahw.com/AlieyhCotton you and I both would receive $25. Good luck:-)