10 Steps For Gardening Beginners

Okay, so you have decided to start a garden in your home. Congratulations, it is a very good decision indeed. Plants are the backbone of our environment. The more you plant, the better it is. Before you adorn your gardening gloves, soak up some gardening basics that will help you save a lot of time and money if you follow them strictly. Gardening is an activity that requires some serious effort. You can’t simply plant a few saplings one day and then expect it to turn into the Versailles.

Gardening Beginners

Beginners guide to gardening

Here are 10 basic steps any gardening beginners must follow to achieve best results.

Step 1 – Allot time

Ask yourself how much time you can dedicate for your home and garden work each week. If you have sufficient time in your hands, then you can go ahead and start a garden that requires quite a bit of maintenance. It can be a mood-lifter as well. But if you can spare only 2-3 hours a week, look for plants that need very little care. And for the extremely ambitious ones  who have only a few minutes to spare and still wish to start a garden, I suggest that you get yourself some cacti. They will survive even if you to water them just once a month.

Step 2 – Decide where the garden should be

Decide where you will start your garden. Once you do that, evaluate the area well. Determine factors such as sunlight, moisture, soil type, area and location. Or, better, do all the things that are mentioned below.

  • Get the soil checked. You soil could be alkaline or acidic. Sometimes soil may even contain trace amounts of lead. As you know, lead is poisonous. Its not the best thing your kids can play with. Remember to remove all the rocks and lumps you see.
  • Determine the drainage of your soil. Dump some soil in a flower pot and pour water into it. Pay attention and find out if the soil retains water well or if it simply lets the water run through it.
  • Mark the shady and the sunlit areas. If you are planning to start a garden in your yard, find out if any underground pipes or other utilities are present underneath your yard.
  • Try to find out how much rainfall your locality receives in a year. It would be great if you get a lot of rain, it means that you can spend less time watering your plants and more time enjoying your garden while you hold an umbrella.
  • Also decide the location of water sources like taps.

Step 3 – Do some groundwork

Prepare a clean bed. If you are starting with a clean bed, your plants tend to be healthy and less susceptible to pests and other harms. If there is grass and other vegetation, remove them. It is not a very pleasant task but you can’t overlook this step. You can buy pre-fertilized soil these days. If you don’t have sufficient soil, buy some and lay them around your yard.

Step 4 – What type of garden?

You know what they say, as you sow, so you reap? Decide what kind of garden you want. If you need help with this decision, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do you wish to reap? Flowers? If you want flowers, decide their color combination.
  • Do you want a space where you can relax or do you want a play area for your kids?
  • Do want to grow vegetables in the garden?
  • What plants are suitable for your soil? (I hope you obeyed my instruction and got your soil tested, soil testing is not a DIY task.)

You can even discuss with your family and make a joint decision about what you want your lawn to be turned into.

So, once you scrutinize  all the above steps, you can get down to the actual process of gardening.

Step 5 – Procure the saplings/ seeds

Get the seeds and saplings based your decision about the type of garden you need. Local stores often stock up on these things and so they may not be difficult to find (unless you are looking for the kind of plants you seen in Harry Potter movies.)

Step 6 – Buy some tools

Get the basic gardening tools. You may not need all the tools in the beginning. Just get a spade and a rake. You can buy the rest as and when the need comes up.

Step 7 – Start planting

Plant them! Oh, you have to get flower pots too. You can reuse your old pots if you want. As long as they are not totally dilapidated, they will do just fine. There are no rules when it comes to the time that is ideal for planting seeds, however it is considered best planting them on an overcast day as it yields better results.

Step 8 – Give them a drink!

Once you plant your seeds/saplings, water them immediately. Give them a deep soaking. If water is insufficient during the initial stages of a plant’s life, chances are that they won’t survive long.

Step 10 – Extra nourishment

Deciding on fertilizers and manures can be a difficult task. Since these things often cause more harm than help, it is suggested that you use them in a limited manner. You can avoid them altogether if you want.

Alternatively, you can substitute them with natural compost or your regular kitchen bio-wastes. If at all you decide to use fertilisers, make sure you use them in the fall or autumn season. That’s it. You are done with the planting part.

 

Troubles May Brew

Planting seeds alone doesn’t do the job. There is much more you should know as a budding gardener. You are likely to encounter a few hiccups and troubles soon. Read ahead to know more about them.

Likely hiccup # 1 – Maintenance

Or the excess of it. All plants require quite a bit of maintenance. They can’t survive on their own and will need your attention several times a week. Otherwise they will wither and die. If that happens, you will have to live with the fact that you actually killed a living organism.

Likely hiccup # 2 – Misconceptions

If anyone told you that perennial plants require less maintenance as compared to annual plants, they are wrong. All plants are more or less the same when it comes to metabolism. Don’t believe all the stuff your fellow gardeners tell you. Perform adequate amount of research if you want to take good care of your plants.

Likely hiccup # 3 –  Weeding

I’m sure that this is a familiar word. The happy news is that the more often you tend to your garden, lesser will be the time you need for weeding it out. For those of you who don’t know a thing about weeds, here’s the explanation. Weeds are any kind of unwanted vegetation. You may be thinking “What’s the harm in letting a strange plant grow in my garden along with my other plants”. Let me tell you this, weeds are often parasitic in nature. They quickly absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil, leaving your beloved plants to starve and eventually die. So, remove all strange plants lurking in your garden as soon as you see them.

Likely hiccup # 4 – Deadheading

This is the process of removing your spent blossoms. It ensures that your plants have a longer lifespan. Also, tall plants often need to be staked to avoid flopping.

Almost there!

This pretty much summarizes everything you need to know about gardening as a beginner. It is always wise to have a gardening catalog with you. Also, it would help you immensely if you keep records and journals about your gardening activities. For those of you who are devoted to saving our environment, green landscaping could be an option. It is a healthier, greener and cost-effective approach to gardening.

If you loved the idea of gardening but you do not have the space or time to start one, make do by adding a few indoor plants to your home. Read about some cool guides on how to keep indoor plants!. You can also read about how you can decorate your home with indoor plants.

Whatever methods you choose, starting a garden of your own is an admirable thing to do. So why don’t you start one soon and do your part in saving our environment? Best of luck!

 






Freon is not as common a word in the American lexicon as it used to be.  And that is greatly due to the phase out of the product that started decades ago. That common household name was once the main chemical component in central heating and cooling systems, but that started to gradually change in 1987 when the U.S. government decided to gradually get rid of the ozone damaging chemical. That chemical, technically referred to as r-22, is only a handful of years away from the end of its U.S. phase out timeline.

What does this mean for you as a homeowner?

Your home’s air conditioner, when it’s working the way it should, does not need added coolant.  But like most machines, the ideal condition and the real world condition of the average central heating and cooling system differ.

Cost of Freon

 

People who have recently discovered leaks in their older HVAC systems will already be aware that it’s getting more expensive to recharge the coolant. As less r-22 is available to technicians and homeowners the costs will probably continue to increase. Here’s what I learned about this trend and what we all may expect in the future.

Some U.S. homeowners are immune to the problem of rising Freon costs. Newer homes, particularly ones built after 2010, typically have HVAC systems that use newer coolants, ones that will be around for a long time and are produced and distributed in greater quantities. But those of us with the older systems face a dilemma. Do we upgrade to a newer HVAC system, a decision that involves lots of out of pocket costs, or do we continue to accept the rising expense of recharging the coolant in leaking systems that regularly require a refill?

How do I decide whether to convert my existing HVAC system to run with the new coolant type, replace the system entirely or just leave things alone?

After researching this myself I concluded that the most cost effective choice is to leave the existing system in place at least until 2020, but that is only true if the system is running well and not leaking coolant. I also believe that a system that requires some component repair or replacement but does not leak is cheaper to keep than replace. I found that to be true after looking at the prices of replacement parts. Long after r-22 is no longer made there will still be new parts manufactured for the older systems. Those parts will not contain any coolant though.  That is the most important thing to consider when making your own decision. At what point is it more expensive and time consuming to find a technician or coolant source still carrying the old coolant type? That will likely vary from one area of the U.S. to another. But keep in mind that some of that coolant will still be available in the form of reclaimed product, taken out of systems and reused, for years to come.

What if the system is leaking heavily or near to failing?

If your HVAC system is in poor condition then you may be better off trying to find a way to afford the cost of replacing the entire system. I arrived at that conclusion after examining the costs of replacing individual components of an older system. And here is the real problem with continuing to fix that old system. The newer coolant type, r410a, does not work with older systems. Trying to convert a system from r-22 to r410a is highly impractical. The system pressure is higher for r410a, the lubricant type is different and overall it’s a throwing good money after bad to even attempt a conversion for most homeowners.

So what is best for someone on a tight budget whose HVAC system is leaking and doesn’t appear to have much time left before things start breaking?

Anyone in this situation who plans to keep the house for more than a few years should think seriously about financing options. Some local utility companies and some HVAC installers offer financing options. And in some instances the monthly payments may be very reasonable. On the other hand a homeowner who does not intend to keep the house much longer can’t look at such a hefty cost as a good idea unless the new HVAC system will result in an equal or greater boost in the sales price of the house.

There’s another thing to consider in all of this. If your system is leaking heavily then it’s not just costing money to recharge. It’s also releasing a chemical into the air in your house and ultimately into the atmosphere.  And there is a good reason that the chemical was marked for phasing out in the first place. It certainly isn’t helping the environment to have it being released into the air from lots of older homes. For some homeowners that, coupled with the greater efficiency of newer HVAC systems from an energy use standpoint, is enough to make the cost of the new system acceptable.




Usually, appliances last for several years, mainly when they are properly maintained. Adequate maintenance actually brings down faulty function incidents considerably. When household appliances no longer work, you have two alternatives. You could either substitute it or repair it. In order to make the right decision, many points have to be kept in mind. Firstly, make sure your commercial appliance’s age and warranty period. If the particular warranty period continues, your repair could fee you nothing, or much less than what you suppose to pay otherwise.

The Cost of Appliance Repair – Are they worth Repairing?

Average appliance repair costs

Assuming that the warranty period is over and consequently repair shall be pricey, then you certainly must consider a few points. You must begin with obtaining estimates and quotes from no less than four different service providers. If the cost is about 50% of the cost of a new appliance then it is worth getting the repair done. If not, it would make more sense to just upgrade to a newer model. An amazingly old kitchen appliance may give you the situation of hard-to-find spare parts. Your repair guy might have a tough time discovering suitable appliance parts and he could charge extra for that too.

Getting original parts to be substituted by spare alternatives is not a very good idea. There are high chances of making more troubles than answers. Even if it does not prove to be a fix, you will face stumbling blocks later on. Throw away your appliance and get yourself a new one instead. New models from reputable warranty companies tend to be more energy-efficient and reasonable. By employing environmentally friendly commercial appliances in your business, you will also be promoting goodwill and sales among your patrons. It also transforms to lower energy expenses and more savings. The extra cost will surely be justified over the years.

How Much Does Replacing or Repairing an Appliance Cost?

Commercial appliance repair service is normally billed for on hourly basis. Average hourly rates for the first half an hour could vary between $50- $70. After that, for any subsequent moment block the rates will be a few dollars less per half hour. On average, if you are a regular customer of a company, you can anticipate to pay 10$-20$ per hour for time slots from your technician. Lower rates are charged if your appliance is delivered to the provider shop and the technician did not have to go onsite for the repair. Sometimes based on the complexity of the job, the rate will vary. This will usually adjust in benefit of the client as then, the duration of time taken for repair is not of importance. The person will not be anxious about being charged too much.

When calling your repair services call center or offices, bear in mind that ‘overtime calls, i.e. the calls taken after business hours, on holidays, and on weekends, will naturally cost you extra. In fact, charges might even be as much as 25% over. Thus, take thin in account. If the repair is not an emergency, calling for an urgent ‘overtime repair’ is not a very smart idea.

A Pre-Owned Home Warranty Can Protect You From Costly Repairs

If you are most consumers, you would not even consider buying a new or pre-owned car without some type of warranty. So why would you purchase a home without similar protection? Well, the simple answer is the majority of people just don’t know that home warranties exist. But as home sales are rising, buyers are negotiating for the best possible deals and sellers are seeking for advantages to make their home more pleasing. As a result, home warranties are rapidly becoming part of home sale transactions on both sides.

What is a Home Warranty

Get Covered!

A typical pre-owned home warranty is a service agreement provided to the sellers and/or buyers all through the sale of a home that protects the home’s essential mechanical systems and appliances. Usually, home warranties protect sellers and new homeowners from repair and/or replacement costs that are not covered by their homeowners’ insurance. While specific coverage differs, some of the most common items covered are the water heater, HVAC system, plumbing and electrical system.

Cost to Repair Appliances 2012

According to Homewyse, in 2012 the average cost to Repair Appliances varies from $184.63 to $242.40 per each appliance.

Your cost depends on material costs and local labor, level of preparation, finishes quality and job complexity.

Cost to Repair Appliances – General Information

The cost estimate includes:

  • Costs to material delivery and service provider transportation to and from the job site
  • Costs to set up the worksite for Appliance Repair, together with costs to project existing finishes, components and materials
  • Costs for site cleaning and debris removal once work is complete
  • Costs for machinery or tools to complete the Appliance Repair
  • Costs for tools or machinery used to complete the Appliance Repair

The cost estimate does not include:

  • Cost to modify or add present electrical, plumbing or HVAC systems
  • General contractor charge fees for directing and managing the Appliance Repair. You would expect 12.3% to 19% to the total cost if a general contractor supervises the project

Appliance Maintenance

The following list comprises major work tasks commonly performed during Appliance Maintenance.
Make use of this list to know the timing and sequence of different steps in the Appliance Maintenance project.

Example:

The table mentioned below is provided by Homewyse which is a vendor neutral, comprehensive online reference for the home. It is published by competent home design and construction professionals who seek to produce a “level playing field” for trade professionals and consumers. By relevant professional knowledge and expert insight which is easily accessible to the average homeowner, Homewyse facilitates effective decision making in all matters related to home.

Task Service Provider Duration Do-it-yourself difficulty Target Cost 
Install Electric Cooktop Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $513 – $932
Install Gas Cooktop Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $583 – $1,062
Install Trash Compactor Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $520 – $949
Install Range Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $895 – $1,643
Install Vent Hood Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $445 – $811
Install Washing Machine Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $695 – $1,273
Replace Washing Machine Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $695 – $1,273
Install Refrigerator Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $70 – $117
Install Dishwasher Plumber 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $488 – $886
Repair Appliances Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $70 – $117
Repair Dishwasher Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $70 – $117
Repair Dryer Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $70 – $117
Repair Refrigerator Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $70 – $117
Replace Built-In Refrigerator Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $1,820 – $3,354
Replace Trash Compactor Appliance Service and Repair Technician 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $520 – $949
Install Waste Disposal Plumber 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $105 – $175
Install Ice Maker Plumber 1 d Level 2 – Challenging $230 – $407
Install Dishwasher Plumber 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $488 – $886
Install Garbage Disposal Plumber 1 d Level 3 – Complex, Difficult $250 – $444



When it comes to appliance warranty protection plans, the choices are plenty. Should you buy a comprehensive home warranty or extended warranty at the point of sale? While home warranty is like an umbrella insurance that covers all major home appliances, extended warranty is purchased for each appliance separately.

extended warranty

Home warranties will charge annual premium and deductibles per repair incident but they can be purchased anytime during the life-cycle of the product. Extended warranties will charge up front fees, but no deductible per incident and these protection plans are generally sold during the initial stages of product’s use, although there are exceptions.

Generally, home warranties cover all used appliances, but extended warranties cover new items only. Recently, Warranty Week ran an article that questioned whether there is an overlap between the two. They interviewed several executives from home warranty and extended warranty companies. The general consensus appears to be that, there is some overlap, however two types of warranties serve different purposes.

Mike Frosch, president of The Warranty Group, North America, said “Home warranties are great, when you’re buying or selling a house and want to cover used appliances immediately. Service contracts are great, when you’re shopping for new appliances and want to extend the manufacturer’s warranty for additional years. So in a sense, the coverage may overlap, but the offers don’t really compete. When you buy a home warranty, for the sake of argument let’s say it’s $450. It’s a one-year coverage on used equipment. It’s providing some coverage on some amount of appliances, but it’s really about heating, air conditioning, plumbing and electric”

In our view, they do overlap if you are talking about big ticket appliances, but there is no need to buy both. If you are buying a new appliance, chances of it failing in the first 3-5 years is far less assuming you have researched the product before buying. So, there is no real need for extended warranties.

However, if homeowners still want peace of mind coverage, then they should simply go with home warranty as it covers all appliances in your home not just one specific product. The home warranty costs are higher than the extended warranty, however it covers far more items and you have a single point of contact for all repair needs.

Extended warranty companies argue that they provide better service and offer more economic protection plans. The argument is compelling on the surface, but keep in mind home warranties are useful where there is frequent need for repair such as old appliances.

We wonder what would be the service level if extended warranty companies offer maintenance service of 10-15 years old appliances such as heaters and air conditioners. The repair needs are much higher and their profit margins are much lower. Generally extended warranties are bought for new electronics items and repair incidents are much lower. For this reason, we think it is a wise decision not to buy extended warranty at point of purchase.




What’s it like right now out there for home sellers?  Well, for one thing, despite the wild gyrations of the stock market over the last several months, houses are still being sold.  Not only are houses selling but many regions are showing signs of solid home value increases as inventory hits a bottleneck.  This is the good news.  The not-so-good news is that parts of the western U.S. are not enjoying the rising sales prices.  As homes in those parts of the country stay on the market longer, sellers find themselves in competition with other home sellers.  And that leads to knocking prices down or making other costly concessions to close a sale.  If that sounds like your situation then what can you do?  What can any seller do when a house doesn’t sell as quickly as desired?  The answer to that question is many things.  But one thing in particular is relatively inexpensive and easy to accomplish.  That one thing is buying a home warranty.

Home Warranty

Home warranties have not exactly been praised in recent years, so it might seem unlikely that anybody will see these contracts as a big plus.  But that’s a widely adopted misconception and one that deserves some closer inspection.

I asked the founder of the home warranty industry, American Home Shield, to help me understand why their customers involved in real estate sales are choosing to cover their listing periods and buyers’ first years of ownership with a seller provided home service contracts.

Lisa Rice, National Vice President, Real Estate Sales at American Home Shield answered the call for information with some details that real estate professionals and home sellers may want to consider when deciding whether or not to buy a home service contract.

What types of home warranties are available to home sellers right now?

American Home Shield offers different levels of coverage for homeowners in any number of situations. Sellers can offer any of our AHS packages to the buyer at closing – Shield Essential, Shield Plus or Shield Complete.  Shield Essential, for instance, provides comprehensive coverage to a seller on their “essential” systems that could fail during the listing period.  Further, a seller’s portion of coverage is paid at “closing” – so there is no up-front out-of-pocket expense to the seller.

What is the average cost of these contracts?

Our prices vary based on the part of the country you are in, but in some parts of the country, you can get our basic Shield Essential plan for less than $2 a day. The Shield Essential plans cover major appliances and home system components.

Do these contracts typically help homes to sell faster?  If so then can you cite any statistics?

According to a 2013 real estate study conducted by NRT, we found that homes with an AHS Home Protection Plan sold an average of about 11 days faster and about $2,300 more than those without a home warranty — that’s over three times the average price of the plan itself.  Also, in many states where multiple offer situations are a reality, buyers might choose to provide sellers coverage during the contract escrow period to make their purchase offer more attractive. This is a tremendous benefit for the seller.

Can you say what percentage of these contracts result in paid claims?

An American Home Shield customer uses their plan an average of two times per year. We accept and pay more service requests than any other home warranty company in the nation. In the past three years, we have serviced about 93 percent of claims. That’s added up to $1.7 billion over the last 5 years and $3 billion in the last ten years.

Lisa’s feedback helped greatly.  Even as someone working on the marketing side of the home service contract industry I still need to understand why the industry keeps growing its customer base, despite so many consumer advocates and other critics lambasting home warranties as a waste of cash.  But there were still questions that I have seen and heard from homeowners not familiar with the home warranty.  And a few of those are important to air out, in my opinion.

Isn’t home warranty something that overlaps with homeowner’s insurance?

Absolutely not.  But this is still a good point to address.  It’s a common misconception among a large percentage of homeowners in the U.S.  Truth is, your homeowner’s insurance mostly covers the unforeseeable things that happen TO your house.  Home warranty covers the things that happen in your house that is expected, even guaranteed to eventually occur.  Your insurance is a wager of sorts between you and the company issuing the coverage, their bet being that you’ll pay a lot more in than you ever get out in claims.  Home warranty pays for things that are much, much more likely to happen to almost any coverage purchaser, things like dishwashers wearing out and refrigerators needing replacement.  This is where the common complaints about home warranty are most easily linked to the nature of the service promised to customers.  Homeowner’s insurance is typically far more expensive to maintain per year than a home warranty would be for the same house.  Why?  Well, the main reason seems to be the price that customers are willing to pay.  People just don’t want to spend as much on home warranties, it would seem, as they do their insurance.  But by looking for the absolute cheapest home warranty you are practically inviting problems down the road.  Like insurance, the home warranty can’t operate profitably for the company unless more money comes in premiums than goes out in claims.  Homeowners would do well to keep in mind both the differences between homeowner’s insurance and home warranty and the dynamic at work inside the companies.  Sometimes you really do get what you pay for!

How can I find the top home warranty companies?

This one is easy.  HomeWarrantyReviews.com is the best place to narrow down the options that a homeowner has for home warranty coverage, no question about it.  You won’t find a website that has been around longer than this one, when it comes to providing unbiased consumer feedback about home warranty companies.

How do I know if I’m the right customer for a home warranty?

This is the best and first question a homeowner can ask, in my opinion, when considering a home warranty.

Do you need one?  Do you not need one?  Is it better to put money in savings or have a credit card with a good sized credit line on standby for emergencies?  Is it better to buy the home warranty?

Answering these questions can be as arbitrary as a coin toss for some people, simply due to all the uncertainty involved.  Though a newer appliance is less likely to break and may be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, there is also the matter of how time consuming finding a qualified, reputable contractor can be.  And if you’re an investor with multiple rental properties, that time you spend calling around to find a good contractor may be greatly multiplied.

To help you with this decision, I would suggest you read this article here on HomeWarrantyReviews.com, with helpful tips about deciding whether a home warranty is something you need or not.

Author Bio

Kevin Wallach writes about the home service contract industry and works in a marketing capacity within the home warranty industry.  He has followed the industry for five years and has worked just as long to help bring customers and companies together through Internet marketing.  He also is the administrator of the Home Warranty and Service Contract industry group on Linkedin.

 




These days, when people hardly have time to even talk with neighbors, cleaning the house has become a rarer activity. Yet, cleaning your home is a task that just cannot be ignored. The first rule of personal hygiene – keep yourself and your surroundings clean. Otherwise, germs may take up residence on you and in your home.

For those of you short on time and money for hiring a maid, this article would be the perfect cheat sheet to make sure that your home remains clean and well, disease free. If you think this article is too big, take a look at our quick home cleaning cheat sheet.

We’ve compiled a list of things that you can do to ease the task of cleaning your home. This includes tips and tricks that you may never have come across. So don your cleaning gloves and let’s begin!

Kitchen Cleaning Hacks

1. Cabinet Cleaning 

Home Cleaning HacksMost kitchen cabinets accumulate gunk, usually around the handles or the inside corners. Thankfully, they’re not difficult to get rid off.

Here’s what you need to do – mix baking soda and any vegetable oil. The consistency of this mixture should be like that of toothpaste. Use an old toothbrush and scrub away around the handles and corners of cabinets. You’ll have clean surfaces in no time

 

2. Cleaning The Sponges

Everyone has cleaning sponges in their kitchens. Without these soft friends, cleaning would be very difficult indeed. However, over time, they become ragged and home to a host of microbes and germs. If the condition is so bad that they are tearing in pieces, discard them. If they are still in a single piece, sanitize them before you use them again.

To sanitize kitchen sponges, sprinkle a few drops of water (lemon juice, if you have it) and microwave them on high heat for two(2) minutes. This should fry any germs in them leaving the sponges clean and bacteria-free.

3. Cleaning The Garbage Disposal

DrainGet an ice tray. Mix water and vinegar in the ratio 1:8. Chop up a lemon into tiny pieces. Pour the water-vinegar mixture into the ice cube tray and drop one piece of lemon into each square. Freeze this mixture.

Once frozen, drop the ice cubes into the garbage disposal and run it for several seconds (leave the faucet running). Make sure all the ice is ground. This is an easy hack to not only dislodge debris stuck between the blades but also to sharpen and deodorize the device.

4. Stove Burner Cleaning Hack

Stove-BurnerThis is an object that accumulates huge amounts of grime and grease and cleaning them is a task we often dread. Scrubbing them may be time-consuming, so here’s a no scrub routine to clean grime and grease from stove burners.

You’ll need basic ammonia and a zip-lock bag. Take around half a cup or less of ammonia and drop it into the zip-lock bag. Drop in the stove burner as well and seal the plastic zip-lock bag. The idea is not to soak the burner in ammonia, but to let it just sit in the ammonia fumes overnight. Ideally, leave the zip-lock outside, just in case it develops a leak and you don’t want your house smelling of NH3. You should be able to clean the grime off smoothly with a cloth. No scrubbing needed!

 

5. Cleaning The Blendershutterstock_84133486

Yes, there’s a hack for this one too. No, cleaning it in the sink with the help of a scrub won’t help much. Blenders are difficult to clean because there are many jutting edges which could cut your fingers if you try to scrub around them.

Here’s what you need to do. Add a few drops of dish-washing liquid to a cup or so of warm water. Pour it into the blender and turn the blender on. Pour the soap water out and repeat with clean water. Once this is done, you can clean the outsides and then give the whole jar a final rinse.

Bathroom Cleaning Hacks

6. Cleaning The Shower Head

Yet another beautiful, no-scrub hack to clear out hard water stains from the shower heads and other steel surfaces. You will need a leak proof plastic bag, rubber bands, distilled white vinegar and water. Pour the vinegar into the plastic bag and tie it around the shower-head with the help of rubber bands. Leave it overnight or at least for a few hours, rinse with plain water in the morning. All hard water stains will be magically removed.

For other steel surfaces, dip a cloth into the distilled vinegar or spray some on them. Rinse with plain water after a few hours.

7. Cleaning Grout From The ShowerCleaning Tile

Grout is generally a kind of filling used between spaces while laying tiles or similar structures. Over time, they often turn dark and become an eyesore, especially against light colored walls/tiles. To remove them, there is a very effective, homemade grout cleaner that works wonders.

You will need a scrub brush or an old toothbrush, baking soda and some bleach. Combine ¼ cup bleach with a ¾ cup of baking soda until it forms a paste. Apply this on affected areas and let it sit for a few minutes. Bleach usually does the job, however, scrubbing it will yield maximum results. Do remember to wear your protective gloves when handling chemicals like bleach.

8. The Bathtub Drain

Bathtub drains accumulate a lot of grime and debris and the most common culprit behind a clogged drain is (ewww) human hair. For clearing a clogged bathtub drain, you’ll need a screwdriver, skinny pliers, paper towels, vinegar and baking soda.

Remove the drain plug and pull out the insert with the screwdriver. You should see some really disgusting gooey debris there. Use paper towels to wipe around the area and then use skinny pliers to pick up the gooey mess. The gross part is now over. Finally, pour a cup or so of baking soda and then vinegar over it until the mixture bubbles up. Leave this for around 15 mins and then rinse with tap water. Put back the plug, and you’re done!

9. Cleaning Mold From The Shower

voegenschrobbenwebMold is a kind of fungus that happily grows in any region that is continually damp. Bathrooms are ideal for mold colonies. These fungi are not only unpleasant to look at but they are also high-risk allergens. Cleaning them is thankfully simpler than you think.

Get some straight bleach and cotton balls, the kind you use for cosmetic purposes. Soak a piece of coil in the bleach and place it over the mold-affected areas. Leave this overnight. Using skinny pliers or tweezers, pick up the coil pieces and discard them. Rinse the area with water. You’ll be happy to see that mold growth would be considerably reduced. Keep in mind that bleach is a harsh chemical and it must never be handled without appropriate safety measures.

10. No Scrub Tub Cleaner

Yeah, this one made a lot of people happy. Scrubbing a tub could be back breaking task for some people which is why this one is a big hit! All you need is dish soap and vinegar. Mix the two in 1:1 ratio and spray it generously all over your tub. Leave this on for an hour or two, wipe away with a soft cloth and rinse with water.

These days, cleaning grade vinegar has become available in department stores. The acetic acid content in cleaning grade vinegar is higher than the food grade version. This means the cleaning effect is improved.

 

General Indoor Cleaning

11. Carpet Cleaning 

Carpets take a lot of beating from the folks in the house and so it’s quite common that they end up with difficult stains and a lot of offensive particulate material. While dust can be easily removed with the help of suction, stains require additional tools.

Baking soda, liquid detergent, vinegar and warm water are the only things you will need. As step 1, drop baking soda/cornstarch on the stains. Let it sit for half an hour and then use a vacuum cleaner to remove it. Once that is done, mix liquid detergent, one spoon of vinegar with warm water. Using a sponge, wipe the stain with the detergent solution. Using a different dry sponge, absorb the vinegar-detergent solution out of the carpet. Your stain would’ve faded considerably!

12. Easy Mattress Cleaning

Dust that accumulates in the mattress can cause some serious allergic reactions in some people. It is generally advised that regularly used mattresses must be cleaned at least once in a few months.

To clean your mattress without breaking your back, you’ll need a few drops of your favorite essential oil, baking soda and your trusted vacuum cleaner. Open a can of baking soda and add a few drops of essential oil. Replace the lid and shake the container so that the oil and the soda mixes well. Sprinkle this all over your mattress and let it remain for an hour or so. Vacuum the entire mattress making sure that all traces of baking soda are removed. This is very effective in removing dust mites and other harmful microbes.

 

13. Cleaning A Microfiber Couch

Microfiber couches are one of the most comfortable couches ever. However, they become dirty quite easily and kids just love to create art masterpieces on them. Cleaning them may seem difficult and you may even consider replacing them. But do try this simple fix before you discard your lovely couch.

You’ll need rubbing alcohol, a sponge, a sprayer and a scrubbing brush. Pour the rubbing alcohol into the sprayer and spray it all over the stain till it saturates. The alcohol will evaporate quite quickly so spray continuously. Using your sponge, scrub vigorously till the stain starts to visibly reduce. Once you are done scrubbing, leave it to dry. Use your brush to ruffle the couch back once the alcohol has dried. We strongly recommend that you use a pair of gloves while handling the scrubbing alcohol and try not to drink it :).

14. Removing Pet Hair 

downloadHaving a pet is a wonderful feeling indeed.  If you have a furry friend, be warned that their fur has been known to cause a lot of diseases, including the very dangerous Toxoplasmosis. It would be a good idea to rid your house of their fur once in a while to avoid pathogens of various kinds.

Damp rubber works wonders for removing pet hair. You’ll simply need to dampen your rubber gloves and give the furniture and other surfaces a good scrubbing. For getting cat/dog fur off carpets, use a squeegee and wipe the fur away.

 

15. Cleaning tiny toys

Toys left unused accumulate a lot of dust and the idea of washing them all individually might seem time-consuming. If you want to wash them all together in one go, here’s something you can try.

Grab a small laundry bag and dump all the small toys into it. Hold them under the sink and run the faucet. The tiny holes in the laundry bag will allow water to come in and drain taking all the dust away.

 

A Word Of Advice

While you may not be able to do all of these at once, try going one section at a time – bathrooms, followed by the kitchen and so on. Remember – Safety first. Do not forget to use rubber gloves or overalls when necessary. Once you are done, put the chemicals away in a safe place where your kids cannot reach them. We also have a great guide on 10 ways to organize your home efficiently. You should read that too!

Home maintenance is no easy task. Keeping a home running does require some amount of effort. That said, there are some things that you just cannot prevent. Appliance breakdowns are a fine example. We strongly recommend that you purchase a home warranty to protect your budget and your appliances.

That’s all for now, do try out these hacks and let us know what you think. Don’t hesitate to ask us any questions, we’ll be more than happy to help. Thanks for reading, cheers!

 




Life throws many unforeseen things at all of us. As we can’t stop these things from happening, we can choose to give our lives a bit of protection. Insurance is meant to grant us some measure of financial protection, when a disaster occurs. There is plethora of insurance options available and it is suggested by many financial experts to have these insurance policies in place. Yet, with so many choices, it can be difficult to decide what kind of insurance you need to get.

Life Insurance Policy

Buying the right insurance is always decided based on your specific situation. There are however, four insurances that are suggested by most financial experts namely life, health, auto and long-term disability. Each of these covers up a definite feature of your life and is vital to your financial future.

Do I Really Need Life Insurance, and if So How Much?

The greatest aspect in having life insurance is providing for those who depart. This is really important when your family is dependent on your salary. Experts recommend that life insurance policy should cover “ten times your yearly income”. This amount would give a sufficient amount of money to cover funeral expenses, existing expenses and provide your family a financial cushion which will assist them re-group after your demise.

When estimating the amount of life insurance coverage you want, keep in mind to factor in not only funeral expenses, but also mortgage payments and living expenses such as credit cards, taxes, loans, child care and future college costs.

Life insurance is something that will be required by everybody at some point. Unless you work in the insurance industry or are familiar to somebody that does, what do you really know about the life insurance types that are accessible to you? The answer to that question probably is ‘not a lot’, and why you be supposed to?

Types of Life Insurance

Many of us think that there is a common life policy for insurance that everybody procures but this is actually not the case and there is a variety of life insurance that can be bought. Each of the types has its own precise features and benefits that may be of concern to the consumers.

Below is the brief explanation as to what these different kinds of life insurance are in order that you can be familiar with the difference between them.

Life insurance comes in several sizes and shapes, but they generally fall into two categories namely Term Life Insurance and Permanent Life Insurance.

 

Term Life Insurance Policy

This is the most affordable life insurance and coverage in this type is bought for a definite price for a specific period of time. After the demise of the insured, the recipient will receive the death benefit. It makes the death benefit longer only for a definite period and if the insured doesn’t die within the term of the policy, he gets nothing in return.

This kind of life insurance makes logic if you have monetary needs that will reduce over time, such as a child’s tuition or a home mortgage.

Types of Term Life Insurance

  1. Guaranteed Level Term Life Insurance: This is the most common type and is well-liked for the reason of the very low cost and long term coverage it provides. These kinds of life insurance policies have premiums that are intended to remain level for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years.
  2. Return of Premium Term Life Insurance: This is a type of life insurance policy that gives a definite refund of the life insurance premiums when the term period expires, assuming the insured is still living. This policy is a bit more expensive but the premiums are planned to remain level. Significantly less expensive than permanent types of life insurance, this life insurance policy still may give cash surrender values if the insured doesn’t die. Return of premium term life insurance policies can be availed in 15, 20 or 30 year terms.
  3. Annually Renewable Term Life Insurance: This type of term life insurance policy has growing premiums. The premiums rise each year to reveal the possibility of your death in any given year.  Annually Renewable Term Life Insurance is not popular and is only procured when the coverage is required for one year or less which happens most frequently in business deals.

 

Permanent Life Insurance Policy

Permanent life insurance by definition is a policy that provides lifelong protection. The policy never ends as long as the premiums are paid. In addition, this type of policy provides a savings element that builds cash value over a long period of time.

Types of Permanent Life Insurance

  • Whole Life Insurance:  This is a type of permanent life insurance which is intended to provide coverage for an individual’s whole life rather than a specified term. It is apt to needs that do not decrease over time such as paying estate settlement taxes and costs. Usually, the life insurance rate for this policy remains unchanged throughout the life of the insured. For the early years of life insurance policy, premiums are much higher and these life insurance policies build up cash values which can be accessed by the by the owner of the policy through surrenders or policy loans.
  • Universal Life Insurance: This policy is different from whole life insurance in the fact that this type itemizes and distinguishes the protection element, cash values and the expense element. By sorting out the three elements, the insurance company can put up more flexibility into the life insurance policy which permits the policy owner to amend the face amount or the premium in response to changing circumstances and needs.
  • To age 100 level guaranteed life insurance: This type offers an assured level premium to age 100. In addition, it also provides guaranteed level death benefit to age 100. Most frequently, it is carried out within a Universal Life policy, with an additional feature known as a “no lapse rider”. Some of these plans also incorporate an “extension of maturity” feature, which provides that if the policy owner lives to age 100, having paid “no lapse” premium each year, the complete face amount of coverage will carry on an assured basis at no charge thereafter.
  • Survivorship or 2nd-to-die life insurance: A survivorship policy is a type of coverage that is usually provided either as whole life or universal and pays a death benefit at the later death of generally a husband and wife. It is widely accepted among wealthy individuals since the mid 1980’s as a method of discounting their expected future estate tax liabilities which can take away an amount to over half of family’s entire net worth!A “2nd-to-die” life insurance policy permits the insurance firm to delay the payment of the death benefit until the second insured’s demise, thus creating the necessary dollars to pay the taxes just when they are required! This type of coverage is extensively used as it is less expensive than individual permanent life insurance coverage on either partner.

Once you know the type of protection applicable to you and would like to procure, you can get online rates for the policy you wish. With the help of online life insurance quotes, you are able to examine and compare insurance quotes from various insurance companies.




While appliance protection plans are always a wise purchase if your appliances are older than 4 years, you still have to make sure that you chose a home warranty company that has a good reputation. It has been noticed that companies sometimes deny our claims on vague grounds, often quoting fine print from the contract. One major such reason stated for denying claims is lack of maintenance.

More than a handful of customers have reported that their claims were denied stating that the device was badly maintained. While it is understandable that customers feel cheated, we still have to realize that since contracts explicitly mention that lack of maintenance issues are not covered, we can’t expect the company to repair such devices.

Claim Denials for Right ReasonsHome Warranty Claim

Let’s take a look at a story that happened sometime back. A lady bought a home warranty contract thinking that she’ll get some budget protection. Her appliances were well over 4 years old. She briefly breezed through the contract and assumed that except for damages due to hazards, thefts and some explicitly mentioned perils, every other damage was covered. One day, her radiator breaks down. She informs the home warranty company and they send a tech to take a look at the device.

The tech finds out that the device was never serviced for quite a bit of time which eventually led to its breakdown. He innocently reports to the same to our lady who gets mad at the tech and the company. The lady then decides to write about this incident on the internet without realizing that the fault could be on her part. She did not get her devices serviced nor did she read the contract carefully. The company’s reputation suffered due to her carelessness.

Claim Denials for Wrong Reasons

Now let’s take a look at another story. Yet another lady bought a home warranty contract from a company that was not really famous nor did it have a good reputation. She paid her premium and she was a good housekeeper who regularly got her appliances serviced. She turned to her warranty company when her refrigerator malfunctioned. This company then sends over a tech who diagnoses the issue to be one caused due to lack of maintenance. The lady was distraught. She was sure that the issue was something else but what choice did she have? The company in question here, operated without ethics and refused to repair a damage that was legit. This incident too leaves the lady furious and in a position where she would definitely bad mouth the company.

So you see, like a coin with two sides, the home appliance warranty industry too has a good side and a bad side. There are cases where genuine claims were denied just so that the company can make a profit and there were cases where the denial was genuine and the customer could just not accept it.

We understand that nobody wants to encounter such unpleasant experiences. We can’t make these warranty companies behave themselves, so what we can do is to make sure that we don’t associate ourselves with companies that have a bad reputation or are fraudulent.

Improve your Claim Approval Rates

Here’s a list of things you can do to avoid any disputes and conflicts

  • Always, we repeat ALWAYS pick a company that has a good reputation. Consider multiple options, read online reviews, talk to your friends and family, visit the company’s office if possible before you zero in on a company.
  • Never ignore the documents. Always read the policy booklet and the contract thoroughly. You can get someone to look at it as well, just to be on the safer side. Before you sign, make sure that you understand how the plan works and what is excluded and included in the coverage.
  • Pick a company that has a round the clock customer support.
  • Some companies recommend a home inspection prior to signing the contract. They do so, so that pre-existing issues can be detected. If the company does not conduct an inspection, it could be a potential problem. In future, they may deny your claim saying that it was a pre-existing issue. To save yourself, get your home inspected by a professional inspector even if the warranty company does not recommend one.

The bottom Line

We are a team of likeminded people who built HomeWarrantyReviews.com to provide genuine feedback about the industry to its customers, so we are not here to praise the industry or cover-up their mistakes. In the time that we spent here, which is over 9 years, we have come to realize the following:

  • Not all feedback and stories provided by customers are completely true
  • Not all companies are rip-offs
  • Most of the unpleasant incidents reported  occur due to a lack of understanding between the customer and the warranty company.
  • Fraudulent companies exist and one must practice caution so that they don’t end up being cheated.
  • Good experiences are often unreported.

If you keep all these points in mind, we’re sure that your experiences with the home warranty industry will be a pleasant one. Cheers!




United Services Automobile Association (USAA) began in 1922 with 25 Army officers who offered to cover each other’s vehicles when no one else would. Today, their tiny organization has grown into a respected institution offering a full range of financial products to millions of members.

USAAUSAA is committed to the financial well being of members of the military and their families for generations to come. That’s why it offers a variety of financial products and excellent services to assist its members attain their financial goals and plan for the future.

Home Warranties USAA

A few years ago USAA also offered home warranty backed by reputable partners but currently they don’t seem to offer it anymore.

When you procure a home, there is a very good chance that you will be offered a home warranty that aids cover the cost of repairs for a period of time after you have purchased it.

A home warranty is essentially an insurance policy that insures the electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems of a house. A home warranty offers the same comfort as any insurance against unforeseeable events.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind to make the most of the safety it provides.

New Home Warranties

If you are purchasing a newly built home, your builder will probably offer a warranty covering defects in workmanship and materials. The period of this coverage differs, but it’s generally not less than a year.

To stay away from unpleasant surprises, read your entire warranty booklet before closing on the contract. Ensure you understand the various exclusions and conditions. New home warranties usually don’t cover electronics, appliances and similar fixtures set up in the home, as those products are generally covered by manufacturer’s warranties. Confirm that you obtain the home owner’s guidebook and warranty information kit that comes with each of them.

Warranties on Existing Homes

Sellers of existing homes frequently purchase warranties to increase the appeal of their property to buyers. Towards the end of their terms, these warranties can usually be extended at the homeowner’s expense, often for $250 to $600 per year.

Study the warranty carefully as it is only as good as its terms. You may discover some limitations that can lessen the initial appeal. For instance, plumbing problems ahead of home’s foundation may be not included, which means many of the most common and destructive headaches will be your liability.

When you name for service, the warranty provider naturally sends off a local service company to remedy the situation. As they wish to pay out as little as necessary, be prepared for warranty providers to favor less expensive repairs over complete replacement.  And have your checkbook useful— even when the repair is covered, warranties characteristically need homeowners to pay a service fee for each repair maybe $25 to $75.

Receiving What’s Due

Like any other type of insurance, the rank of claims service linked with home warranties differs from company to company. If you require service, be ready to rise above obstacles. If the warranty company notifies you that your claim isn’t covered, ask them to quote a specific channel in the warranty document.

Note cautiously when your warranty expires. A few weeks before it does, give your home a thorough basement-to-roof evaluation to see if there are any covered problems that can still be fixed at the home warranty company’s expenditure.

The Value of USAA Membership

USAA membership is a benefit extended to those who have served in the U.S military and their families.

USAA provides life, home and car insurance, banking services, and independent financial advice from licensed financial planners. It also provides a buying service for diamonds and other jewelry, which will save you some funds if you are in the market of those things.

USAA Insurance

USAA Insurance provides one of the best values and their claims service is exceptional. The policy premiums are competitively priced and the coverage is better than anywhere else.

USAA provides a range of personal property and casualty (P&C) insurance, including automobile insurance, homeowner insurance, renters insurance, valuable personal property insurance, and umbrella insurance. Other than P&C insurance, USAA offers term life insurance, whole life insurance and annuities. USAA’s life insurance policies, while not completely unique in the industry, are different from most offerings since they do not include a war-exclusion clause.

USAA Banking Services

USAA banking services also save you a bundle and offer you more convenience. It operates limited-service financial centers in other cities, normally near military bases, which provide assistance and advice in obtaining services and opening accounts online. These limited service locations cannot process deposits or withdrawals, but ATM’s located on site do permit customers to make financial transactions.

Investing and Financial Planning

USAA offers a restricted discount brokerage service and a family of no-load mutual funds. Mutual funds established by other firms can also be bought and held in USAA investing accounts. USAA also provides limited independent financial planning advice, as well as a more systematic flat-free or hourly-rate financial planning service.

Other Business

Through its Alliance Services Company (ASC), USAA runs a mail-order catalog service focusing in the sale of diamonds and jewelry.

Besides, the ASC secures a variety of discounted services for members. These include travel-related services through rental car alliances with Avis Budget Group and Hertz Corporation, as well as discounts on cruise travel. Their retail alliances also comprise partnerships with FTD, FedEx, and ADT Security Services.




Whether you are shopping for a home warranty or already have one, you may be asking yourself how to tell which companies are legit and which ones are not.  Here’s a quick tip from people who know this industry inside and out.  Listen to your repair contractors!

If you want to know how the weather is going to turn out tomorrow you listen to a meteorologist, right?  If you want to know the best place to get dinner this weekend then you probably turn to your favorite online source of local customer reviews.  But home warranty?  Who is the expert where those are concerned?  Trust us.  Nobody knows home warranty like the people who make the repairs!  These are the people who are on the front lines, serving the home warranty companies’ customers.  They know which companies are good, which ones are great, and which ones are someplace in between.

Listen to your repair contractors or technicians

Trust the people you can count on to tell you the truth

Why do repair contractors get the inside scoop on home warranty companies?  That’s easy.  They get paid by the home warranty companies.  And the ones that are slow to pay or don’t pay at all are probably the ones you should avoid.  If they don’t pay their repair contractors then how can you trust them to do what’s right by you, their customer?

So, how do you get the repair technicians to be your personal guides to the home warranty industry?  That’s a little more of a challenge.  But here’s an approach that might work for you.

Just like looking for a doctor who accepts your health insurance, look for a repair contractor who accepts your home warranty coverage.

If you’ve had health insurance then you already know what it’s like to search for a healthcare provider who accepts your insurance.  This process typically involves flipping through page after page of physicians in your area who appear in your insurer’s provider catalog.  Your home warranty company probably won’t have a catalog to give to you, but that shouldn’t slow you down.  There are two ways to go about finding out who works with your home warranty company in the local area.  One way is to call a repair technician who has a lot of good reviews and ask if the company works with your home warranty company.  Another way is to call your home warranty company and ask for a list of their local contractors.  The key here is to talk with repair technicians who have a good reputation.  It doesn’t do you any good if you get praise for your home warranty company from a technician who isn’t any good at fixing things.  In fact, that might actually be a bad sign!

Repair technicians write reviews too!

Another way to find out what repair contractors think about a particular home warranty company is to read online reviews.  Customers are not the only ones who take time out to share their experiences working with the top home warranty companies as well as the not-so-top ones.  If you skim through reviews, chances are you will find a few written by the people who perform the repairs.  If you see complaints about the company not paying its bills or asking the technician to do things that go against his professional ethics then consider that a red flag.  If you find a pattern of such complaints then that’s a red flag you can’t afford to ignore.  

Aside from the reviews being helpful for the information they contain about the quality of the companies, you may also find contact information for the repair contractors who wrote the reviews.  Following up with contractors in your local area who write reviews can sometimes reveal even more detail about how the companies do business.  Do they ask their contractors to fix things cheaply instead of fixing them correctly?  Do they reject repairs outright, due to the cost alone?  These are things you need to know.

Now that you have valuable insight into the way your home warranty company treats its contractors, what do you do next?

Once you’ve contacted at least one reliable repair contractor who was willing and able to tell you what it’s like working with your home warranty company (or companies you are considering doing business with) then you’ve got some follow-up work ahead of you.  Consider the following tips, even if you’re really happy with what the repair technician told you about his or her experiences with the company you asked about.

When is the time to look for a new home warranty?

If the conversation with the repair technician didn’t go the way you’d hoped then you have to ask yourself whether it makes sense to do business with that home warranty company.  Depending upon how bad the news was, you might want to get quotes from other home warranty companies immediately, rather than waiting to find out the hard way that the company doesn’t do what’s right for its customers or contractors.

When the repair technician has bad things to say about the home warranty company, it may be time to look for a new one.

Getting home warranty quotes is just one of many things you can do right here on HomeWarrantyReviews.com.  We work with many of the top companies in the industry, so we can probably get you the details quote information you need within minutes, delivered to you by a knowledgeable representative of the company you’re interested in.

If the news you got wasn’t good, but you’re not convinced that one opinion is a good indication of the company’s dealings with its customers and contractors then you may want to follow with one or two calls to other repair contractors in that company’s network of service providers.  One bad experience may be balanced out by a good one, or you might get a consensus from a few contractors that they’re usually happy working with the home warranty company.

Can you choose your repair contractors?

When the news is good and comes from a reputable repair technician, you might want to find out if that technician can be the one the home warranty company sends when you request service.

If you had a good experience talking with the technician then you may want to find out if the home warranty company will allow you to choose your own technician when you request service.  If that technician took the time to help you when you called to ask for his or her opinion about the home warranty company then you can probably count on that person being equally helpful and professional when something covered by your home service contract needs service.

Some home warranty companies allow their customers to choose a repair contractor rather than waiting for the company to dispatch one from their network of service providers.  In those cases, it would save you time in the future if you already have contact information for a contractor who accepts your home service contract coverage.  But keep in mind that there are a few situations in which having just one contractor selected ahead of time will not help you.

  • The contractor is unavailable at the time you request service
  • The contractor does not work on the type of appliance, system, fixture or another covered item that you need to be repaired

So if a home warranty company permits you to choose your own contractor you should probably get to know a few different local companies that work with the home warranty company.  Depending on what your contract covers, you might need more than a few experts in various repair fields.

If your home warranty company and your contractors do right by you then please return the favor!

The best way of saying thank you to a repair contractor and to your home warranty company, when they take good care of you, is to write reviews by looking up the companies which have served you.  You not only reward those companies for their good work, but you also help other customers, people just like you, make smart decisions about the companies they choose to work with.  So please share a moment of your time when you have a good experience with your home warranty, and post a review here on HomeWarrantyReviews.com!

 




The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows several home related expenses to be deducted from income tax. While most homeowners enjoy tax exemption on expenses like mortgage interest, property taxes etc, some are unaware whether home warranty premiums are allowed deductions.

When some of our readers approached us with this question, we realized that this could be a common question among homeowners across the country. We have tried to address that concern up to the best of our ability and we hope that this article will clear up any confusion you had about such tax deductions.

Home Warranty Premiums Tax Deductible

Tax exemption on home warranty premiums

As you may know, a home warranty is essentially a service contract that agrees to provide you with discounted repair and replacement services. In the United States of America, homeowners unfortunately do not enjoy the benefit of exemption on a home warranty premium you pay for your residence.

However, warranty premiums can be tax deductible if they are on an income producing building. Which means if your house is something like a home office or if it is a house that you have rented out, the premium you pay towards home warranty will be considered as a deductible expense.

A premium paid towards home warranty is considered as a pre-paid maintenance cost of your home and will therefore be non tax deductible. Which means that repairs and replacement costs, no matter how they are covered, will not be a valuable tax deduction.

If you are a tenant in some house that enjoys the protection of a home warranty plan you pay for, you will not be able to claim exemption on its premium. Only the owner will be able to consider premiums as deductible expense.

Will expenses toward repairs not covered by warranty be tax deductible?

Even if you don’t have a home warranty or a home insurance policy, expenses towards repairing and replacing household appliances/ systems will be considered as maintenance costs and hence will not be tax-deductible.

In this case too, if the repair/replacement was needed for an income producing building/home, you may be able to claim an exemption.

Are home insurance premiums tax deductible?

Typically, no. IRS allows homeowners to deduct private mortgage interest from federal taxes. But, homeowner’s insurance premiums shall not receive tax exemption. Same applies to flood or title insurance. This is pretty much the way home warranty premiums work. Unless an income is generated by the building like in the case of rental properties or home office, you are out of luck.

What home expenses are eligible for tax exemption?

IRS allows the following expenses to be considered as tax deductible expenses-

  • Mortgage interest payments
  • Taxes paid towards real estate
  • Payments towards mortgage insurance premiums
  • Uninsured losses due to hazards or crimes

The following are considered as non-exemptible expenses-

  • Homeowners insurance or in general any insurance against hazards
  • Payments towards mortgage principle
  • Home maintenance and related expenses
  • Home improvement expenses

Being on the safer side

We have noticed that it is a common practice to confuse home insurance and home warranty. While homeowner’s Insurance is mandatory for homes with mortgages, a home warranty is usually a choice. Though home warranty premiums may not help you save tax dollars, if your home and its contents are 4+ years old, they are a very wise purchase. Such service contracts provide you with discounted repairs and replacement services if your appliances/systems break down due to normal wear and tear, such damages are typically omitted by homeowner’s insurance. At the end of the day you save more money if you pay premiums for a warranty than if you pay for a repair/replacement job.

If you are worried that a home warranty is going to be expensive, we earnestly encourage you to use our website to get a free quote. You’ll be surprised to find that there are some companies that sell warranty products at compelling prices, some even at zero deductible rates. You can also browse through our site to compare plans and their features. While you are at it, don’t forget to take a look at top ten companies and our annual home warranty award winners!

Our readers are welcome to reach out to us should they have any questions or concerns. We hope that you found this article helpful and informative. Thank you!




Fort Worth Business reports that a new home warranty company is witnessing increased sales even as home sales are falling.

Sales

Warrantech Home Service Co. launched its home assurance plan, hired 17 sales representatives throughout Texas to begin touting the product and has plans to hire at least 10 more in coming months.

“We test marketed it in smaller markets just to make sure we could get the traction we thought we could. We started in 20 some-odd states … that are relatively small from a home warranty perspective before we launched in Texas, which is one of the biggest states in our business,” said Bryan McDonald, national director of sales for Warrantech Home Service Co. “… [Texas] hasn’t been affected like other markets have. We’re pulling into Phoenix and the market is horrible there. But we haven’t seen the foreclosure rates and the disintegration of the market like other places … So we wanted to make sure we had it down before we launched here.”

But Warrantech home warranty isn’t the only company seeing a brighter future in the warranty business.

The latest consumer survey of home buyers and sellers compiled by the National Association of Realtors showed 42 percent of sellers nationwide offered incentives to attract buyers, such as assistance with closing costs or home warranty policies in 2008.

Locally, Realtors say they have seen the slightest of uptick in home warranties attached to home sales, but that trend has always run high.

“I always use one for the seller, even before it’s listed so if anything goes wrong, it can be fixed,” said Anna O’Neil, a Realtor with Brants Realtors. “Every one I’ve ever done has had [a home warranty] unless it’s a foreclosure.”

Home warranty companies are governed by the Texas Real Estate Commission, which classifies them as residential service companies. There are currently 25 licensed home warranty companies in Texas – and most of those are based in other states, said Beverly Rabenberg, assistant director of enforcement for the Texas Real Estate Commission.

You can find more about the coverage plan in Warrantech home warranty coverage section




Maintaining everything in the home is one of the major concerns homeowners have to deal with. Every homeowner worth his salt will tell you that the primary expenses incurred in the process of home maintenance are due to appliance and system faults.
Home Maintenance Plans

Having said that, we’re sure that everyone has heard of Appliance / Home maintenance plans or simply put, home warranty plans. Such plans are contracts that agree to provide you with discounted repairs and replacement services for household appliances and systems. Do keep in mind that such plans are for ageing appliances that have suffered quite a bit of wear and tear over the years. Appliance warranties only cover damages that are due to age, wear and tear.

Home Warranty – How Does it Work?

The working of such plans are quite simple. You purchase the warranty from a home service provider for a specific duration. During the coverage period, if your appliances / systems breaks down, you only need to  call the your warranty provider. They will send a technician to fix your faulty item at just a nominal service charge fee. The actual cost of repairs will be borne by the company.

Hence, in many ways, a warranty is a wise way to protect your budget from unexpected expenses. To know more about home service contracts, read things to know about home warranty. You’ll find that helpful.

Cost of Home Maintenance Plans

Now, coming to the actual problem that this article addresses, cost of home maintenance plans. In general such appliance warranties are affordable and reasonably priced. Most companies offer a specific set of plans from which you can choose, based on your requirements.

The annual premiums for a home service contract ranges between $200 – $ 600, for a home under 5,000 sq.ft. When you purchase a plan, you will be provided with a policy booklet that explicitly specifies all the items that will be covered. You will also be provided with information about various other terms and conditions. Like we said before, home service contracts do not cover damages due to anything other than age and regular use. For faults due to crime, hazards and other perils, you may want to check the difference between home insurance and home warranty.

In addition to the annual premium, you may also have to pay a nominal fee as the deductible each time you raise an issue. Deductibles usually cost between $50 – $100. There are some companies that offer zero deductible appliance protection plans

Like we discussed before, different providers charge different amounts for their plans. Following are the facts that decide the cost of home warranty.

  • Extent of coverage
  • Type of plan
  • Additional benefits/ services
  • Size of the house
  • Age of the house

If you want to purchase a home warranty plan, we suggest that you get your home inspected first. While some companies offer this service prior to the contract being signed, some companies do not. A home inspection reveals a lot of potential problems that your house may face and the inspector may even recommend a plan to make the best out of home warranty.

Bottom Line

If you are still unsure about home warranty, we suggest that you go through our web site and read some informative articles that may help you solve some confusion. That said, we still think that a home warranty is a clever way to protect your appliances and save cash in the process. Cheers!




The Illinois department of insurance issued a warning earlier this year to its residents to avoid a Florida based home warranty company Arkidus Home Protection, Inc. Arkidus had been unlawfully advertising home warranty services via the internet to residents of Illinois and in many cases there were documented incidents of these consumers who purchased a warranty not receiving the services promised to them.

The company and its owner, Reinaldo “Ray” Berges has previously been served with a cease and desist order by the Illinois Department of insurance, but continued offering service coverage for household appliances and major system components. The company had its headquarters in Miami though more recent reports suggest that office has been closed for many months.        Arkidus Home Protection

The company has not been granted any certificate of authority to sell insurance or home warranties to the consumers in the state of Illinois, thus the cease and desist order from that state was issued.  This unfortunately may not help recover the money lost by the Illinois consumers who purchased home warranties, also referred to as residential service contracts or home service contracts.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), The consumers have launched over 245 complaints against the company in last three years. BBB indicates in its report that Arkidus conducted its business through a website, www.theahp.net.

BBB is a non- profit organization more than a 100 years old functioning in U.S and Canada. It collects and provides free business reliability reviews on over 4 million businesses. The BBB plays the role of an intermediary between businesses and consumers. Though it is not mandatory for any firm to get accreditation from BBB such accreditation is sought by some companies in order to build faith in their business.  Arkidus is not accredited by BBB and thus the amount of involvement BBB may have had with Arkidus’s customers would have been limited to collecting and documenting complaints and then reporting complaints to the company.  For further recourse consumers who have complaints against Arkidus would likely need legal representation or assistance from consumer protection entities.

According to publicly available information Illinois’s Department of insurance has also received many complaints from customers of Arkidus who allege they have been tricked by that company and were unable to obtain reimbursements for their claims or their canceled contracts.

The complaints from consumers are also publicly available on various websites.  One such complaint posted online was from Jose. E who is a resident of Florida.  In his post he said, “This Company is a scam. I started service with them in May, and they will not honor their policy. I keep getting calls from companies that were dispatched by them. I needed a plumber and an electrician, and both have been harassing me with the remainder of their bill, even though I paid my deductible. Do not purchase anything from this company, they are frauds.”

Arkidus appears to have ceased doing business but for a time the company was successful persuading customers to pay long term contract fees, in some cases for terms of two years or more. These customers spent thousands of dollars in some cases, all of which they now face losing forever.  If significant legal action isn’t taken against the owner of the company it is unlikely that consumers will receive any reimbursement and this whole story will end sadly.  Hence we warn our readers to be cautious about choosing home warranty companies with very little business history, no matter how positive the early reviews of the company may be.

Tips to prevent you from becoming a victim of similar home warranty and insurance scams

  • Reading about incidents like the ones surrounding Arkidus Home Protection’s brief business in the home warranty space may leave you wondering if there is a way to avoid becoming a victim. Here are some things you can keep in mind when choosing an insurance company or home warranty company.
  • When shopping for home warranty or insurance make sure any company you consider doing business with is properly registered and if licensing or bonding is required by your state be certain those things are in order as well.
  • Check a company’s background, reviews and the companies’ customer complaint records which can found on the company’s local Better Business Bureau website.
  • Never purchase financial products such as home warranties or insurance policies from a company which solicits your business at your door without doing the same homework you would with any other company.  Impulse purchases from hard-sales-tactics sales people are very often regretted by the consumers making them.
  • When dealing with sales people face to face try to develop an eye for details, study the business cards and other documents and verifying that the business address furnished is authentic and not just a P.O. Box, short term single office rental or other temporary type of mailing address.  Though legitimate and not alone a sign of trouble, short term addresses and discreet addresses may be a warning sign that you won’t be able to track anybody down when you run into trouble with the product you bought.
  • Always demand a contract for the services provided, claims and reimbursement, and other provisions and then study the fine print carefully before signing the document or making a purchase.
  • Always ask for a bill or invoice and never pay by cash.  Using a check or a credit card can sometimes help you when you seek reimbursement after not receiving what was promised to you by the merchant.

If you suspect you are dealing with the wrong people already or believe you too have been scammed do not delay making a formal report to the appropriate agency or agencies.  Both at the state and national level in the U.S. there are free and fast ways to make your voice heard when you feel you’ve been misled by a business or been the victim of a scam.  The important thing is to act quickly and not give up if you feel your complaint is being documented but not being acted upon.




2-10 Home Buyers Warranty is in the process of launching Green Advantage Warranty as part of protection assurance programs for new and upcoming green building initiatives.

Green Advantage Warranty

The 2-10 home appliance warranty company offers Green Advantage Warranty to builders who meet eco-friendly standards. Builders need to build homes that fulfill the requisites of Energy Star, National Green Building Standard (NGBS), or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.

Green Advantage Warranty includes repairs and replacement of Energy Star certified products and appliances. Coverage includes the replacement of green labeled items, engineered wood products, sustainably harvest lumber, low or no emission finishes and recycled products with accordance of applicable national certification standard.

Scott Cromie, Chairman and Chief Executive officer states that “With one in four homes now certified by green building standards, it is clear that home buyers want a more eco-friendly home, and that offering warranty protection that targets these values offers builders a clear competitive edge,” and also reports “Our new Green Advantage Warranty represents 2-10 Home Buyers’s Warranty commitment to greener business practices, and celebrates the home builders and home buyers who want a greener home and lifestyle. We’re proud to offer a product that meets these standards, while continuing to provide the same leading, trusted protection our company stands behind.”

Builders interested in participating are encouraged to call 877.777.1344 for more information. You can register to 2-10 HBW Green Advantage Warranty, just by adding up a minimal additional fee over the existing standard rate. It is as simple as checking a box next to the certification standard on 2-10 HBW’s Home Enrollment Application.

Green Advantage Warranty is an added policy to the company’s existing home warranty package, including one, two and ten years of coverage offering for new construction home builders. Company’s 10 years warranty covers structural warranty defect. Under the policy of 1-2-10 warranty one year of surety coverage of workmanship and materials. Two years of warranty also covers on systems.

About the company

2-10 Home Buyers Warranty® is in market for more than 30 years, now the company has offered customers and their homeowners the most comprehensive warranty program available. Whether you’re building, selling or buying a home, 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty offers a complete line of warranty, service contracts and risk management products. Since 1980, 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty has provided warranties and service contracts for more than 5.5 million new and pre-owned homes.




Claim Denial Reasons Found this useful? Share this with your friends and family, hit the share button and help someone out. Cheers!

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Claim denials are often said to be the most annoying experience for home warranty customers. Although most cases happen due to misunderstandings, we do agree that some companies do deny claims on vague grounds for their profit. But a reputable company would never do that. Let’s take a look at this infographic. It explains the common reasons behind home warranty claim denials and how a customer can verify if the grounds for denial are genuine or not. As shown in the infographic, the most common reasons for claim denial are:
  • Improper maintenance
  • Item not included in coverage
  • Improper installation
  • Damage resulted due to natural hazards
  • Damage resulted from crimes

Some of the above mentioned cases can be avoided, while some cannot be. In situations where the company says that the home warranty claim cannot be processed because the item is not covered or that the damage is due to improper maintenance, refer to your contract. If they say that the damage was pre-existing, there is hardly a way out unless you had a home inspection performed prior to purchasing the contract. Likewise for damages due to crimes and natural hazards, one needs a home insurance and not a home warranty. Which is one reason why you cannot replace a home appliance warranty with a home insurance or vice versa.

How to Minimize Your Chances for Claim Denials?

So now the question is, how do we avoid such incidents of claim denial? Simple, pick a great company. Like the infographic tells us, you have to do rigorous research before picking a warranty provider. This website could be a starting point for that. We have reviews of tens of thousands of customers which can help you choose a reputable company. Once that is done, review the contract or policy document thoroughly. Once you feel that the company is good and that the contract is drawn up pretty decently, you may proceed with the purchase.

How to Dispute Unfairly Denied Claims?

In spite of all the research that you did and picking a good company, if you still find that your claims are being denied unjustly, you can dispute the claim. This basically means to go behind them until they set things right and make amends. It’s quite easy, follow the steps mentioned in the last section. Keep in mind that companies won’t give up that easy, so you make have to make multiple calls to convey your point. While disputing claims, keep the following in mind:

  • Always be polite while speaking to the representative
  • Gather all the information required before making the call
  • If you are sure that your claims are being denied unfairly, inform the company that you will complain about them to concerned authorities like State Insurance Boards and small claims court.
  • You can also share your experience through review websites like HomeWarrantyReviews.com and through various social media pages.

Chances are high that the company will come around and accept you claim.




Hagerstown, Maryland is one of the prime cities in Western Maryland. The Hagerstown-Martinsburg urban area is home to almost 270,000 residents, while the Hagerstown suburban area has over 40,000 people and about 30,000 jobs. Currently, there are approximately 500 homes for sale in Hagerstown at a median listing pricing of nearly $180,000.

Washington-Best-Realtors & properties for sale

The top-rated realtors in Hagerstown are well aware of properties, neighborhoods, and newest for sale listings in the city. The experts can provide you with updated information about home buying and selling trends in Hagerstown. Below is the list of top 5 real estate professionals based on their recent activity, years of experience, and total sales volumes in dollars.

Tina Long

Best-Realtor-in-Washington-DC

Tina is a Realtor with Exit Preferred Realty and licensed in Pennsylvania and Maryland. With an experience of more than three decades, she specializes in short-sale, consulting, and buyer’s agent. She is a proud Member of Pen Mar Regional Association of Realtors, Member of Metropolitan Regional Information System, Member of Realtors Association of York and Adams County, and Member of National Association of Realtors. Tina is an accredited short sales and foreclosure resource (SFR) as she knows how to help sellers maneuver the intricacies of short sales as well as help buyers pursue short sale and foreclosure opportunities. Tina understands that buying or selling a home is one of the most significant things you do in life and she assists in making the experience as smooth and successful as possible. Her extensive experience and expertise in the Hagerstown, Chambersburg, Fayetteville, Greencastle, Mercersburg, and Waynesboro real estate market benefit her customers in their buying and selling process.

If you want to buy a home, Tina and her team can help you find the home of your dreams by patiently listening to your needs. She works untiringly to find the right home so that no one has to compromise when it comes to such a huge purchase and decision! Besides, her real estate knowledge ensures that you get the best price possible for your property. Her strategic marketing program makes sure the right people view your home. Whether you are seeking Homes for Sale or Mortgage information, Tina and team are always available for service by phone, email, or appointments. Experienced in all facets of real estate, Tina enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, gardening, riding horses, and taking a hike.

“So if you or someone you know is looking to Buy or Sell a home give me a call. Thinking Real Estate! Think Tina Long!”

Joan McLernon

Top-rated-realtor

Joan possesses more than 33 years of experience in the real estate industry spanning across Residential and Commercial Development in the Washington D.C. Cosmopolitan Area, Property Management, and Certified Buyer and Seller Representation in the Western Maryland and South Central Pennsylvania neighborhoods. A consistent multi-million producer, she can assist first-time buyers and people scaling up or down with their home size or moving to a new area. Joan is skilled in all facets of real estate including but not limited to equestrian or farm properties, urban, suburban or rural homes, historic properties, primary or second homes, and Country Properties. Currently a part of the management team at Coldwell Banker Innovations, she operates mainly in Hagerstown, Boonsboro, Braddock Heights, Clear Spring, Funkstown, Sharpsburg, Chambersburg, Mercersburg, Greencastle, Waynesboro, Knoxville, Fairplay, Saint James and more. Joan believes that experience and understanding are priceless when purchasing or selling a home and hence she provides the right guidance to attain your real estate goal.

An alumna of the University of Buffalo, Joan is constantly acknowledged as one the area’s leading real estate professionals. She has served as President of PenMar Regional Association of Realtors providing guidance for the local membership to boost their abilities and opportunities to prosper through cooperation, participation, promotion of professional integrity and moral standards, and providing educational opportunities to further their careers. She is also engaged in teaching the Introduction to Real Estate licensing course at Hagerstown Community College. Joan has steadily maintained a multi-million dollar award winning sales position in the top 10% each year. She has won the following awards:

  • 2007 Realtor of the Year, PenMar Regional Association of Realtors
  • Rookie Realtor of the Year, O’Conor Piper & Flynn

Call, email or text JOAN anytime with real estate queries you may have.

Mike Baldwin

Top-class-realtor-for-sale

Mike has spent more than two decades working in the real estate industry serving the needs of both the residential and commercial market. He is a resident of the Frederick and Washington County neighborhood and displays an amazing sense of leadership and integrity in everything he does. Mike received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland University College and operates mainly in areas such as Hagerstown, Adamstown, Saint James, Brunswick, Boonsboro, Middletown, Smithsburg, Keedysville, Ijamsville, Williamsport, Maugansville, New Market, Point Of Rocks, Thurmont, Cascade, Cavetown and more. After spending his initial 17 years with Mackintosh Realtors, a local independent firm in Maryland, Mike established Atlantic Real Estate in January 2013 and since then is building a business model that incorporates the customary services expected from a real estate brokerage firm while combining state-of-the-art technology and advanced ideas. Atlantic Real Estate manages all aspects of real estate including property management, buyer & seller representation, real estate investor strategies & planning, professional marketing & sales, consulting & advisory services, land development, and new home sales & marketing. He established Atlantic Home Construction in 2015 after renovating & remodeling investment properties for many years. The company builds custom new homes and remodels existing homes for resale.

In 2016, Mike established Atlantic Companies, recognizing the void between the real estate and building industries. Atlantic Companies is comprised of a real estate division (Atlantic Real Estate) and a construction division (Atlantic Home Construction) along with other ventures. This allows both divisions to work together providing superior quality and long-term value, forward-thinking ideas, and honest customer care.

Mike’s commitment to work responsibilities sets him apart from the rest and has helped him achieve the following:

  • Owner/Broker/Realtor® – Atlantic Real Estate
  • Accredited Certified Residential Specialist, CRS®
  • Accredited Seniors Real Estate Specialist®, SRES®
  • Accredited Graduate REALTOR® Institute, GRI®
  • Member of National Association of Realtors, NAR®
  • Member of Maryland Association of Realtors, MAR®
  • Member of Frederick County Association of Realtors, FCAR®
  • Member of PenMar Association of Realtors®
  • Licensed in Maryland & South Carolina

In addition, Mike has earned the following:

  • Acquired Associate Broker status obtained by only 1% of Realtors nationwide
  • Achieved sales consistently exceeding personal and company goals
  • Consistent top-producing agent in Maryland
  • Winner of numerous real estate awards: “1996 Rookie of the Year” and “Frederick County Hall of Fame”
  • Represent several local builders with marketing, sales, and planning
  • Consistent Top Realtor in Frederick and Washington County
  • Manager/Team Leader to include sales associate(s) and assistant(s)
  • Platinum Award
  • Platinum Team Award
  • Round Table Award
  • Gold Club Member
  • Silver Club Member

Karen Horejs

Real-Estate=Proffesional-in-Washington-DC

A licensed agent with Keller Williams Premier Realty, Karen serves neighborhoods such as Hagerstown, Clear Spring, Chambersburg, Fort Loudon, McConnellsburg, Mercersburg, Orrstown, Williamsport, Boonsboro, Shippensburg, Waynesboro and more. Whether working with a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner, she believes in striving for excellence. Her specialties include short-sale, investors, senior real estate consumers, residential, distressed homeowners, luxury homes, listing agent, and relocation. After graduating from Mercyhurst College, Karen spent 25 years as a registered nurse in Erie, PA. When her husband relocated to the Cumberland Valley around 17 years ago, her 5 children were very young. Her passion for bringing the best to a community led her to get involved with the local Boy Scouts of America. She held numerous leadership positions such as Cubmaster and leading district training events. Later she also became a board member of the Mason-Dixon Council as Vice President of Cub Scout Program. Karen is a recipient of the Silver Beaver Award which is the highest Council award and her 4 sons have earned their Eagle Scout award. Her daughter is the pharmacist at the local Greencastle CVS and one of her sons is a pilot for the United States Coast Guard.

Karen’s expert skills along with hard working attitude and interest in marketing led her to pursue a career in real estate in 2004. In her very first year of service, she was awarded PenMar’s Rookie of the Year. Since then, she has continued to be a top volume producer. “Helping people with one of the biggest decisions of their life is such an honor. Being their advocate and making their move as easy as possible are my goals. People look to us for guidance with life changes and this is a responsibility that we cannot take lightly. I BELIEVE that Realtors who base their practice on the latest guidelines and marketing principles are “doing their best” for their clients and their client outcomes are then optimized.” Karen helps the first-time buyers by making them understand the assets and liabilities of a property. She believes that preparing the home for selling and staging the house are critical when buyers are so selective. Premium virtual tours are her specialty.

Finding Keller Williams, the second largest Real Estate Company in the US has been impeccable for Karen’s wish to be the best. Working at Keller Williams has offered her the following:

  • Top of the line marketing for her clients
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • An environment where agents collaborate and synergize and most importantly a culture of giving back through KW Cares

Karen has earned the following designations and certifications:

  • Accredited Buyers Representative (ABR)
  • Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
  • NAR’s e-PRO
  • Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI)
  • Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES)
  • Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE)
  • Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS)

“My mission is to always “DO MY BEST” in providing professional real estate services to you the buyer or seller!”

Kari Shank

Realtors-REMAX-in-Washington-DC

Kari Shank is a full-time realtor with RE/MAX Achievers and licensed in Maryland, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. She is keen in making your real estate transactions as seamless as possible. She is a permanent resident of Washington County, MD and also has great exposure to the Washington and Baltimore areas. Kari loves working with both buyers and sellers and always takes a tailored approach to the business. Besides, she works as a buyer’s agent emailing you with new listings, setting up custom home searches, negotiating deals, and setting up custom home searches on your behalf! She has a proven track record selling real estate and is available to you seven days a week to answer any of your concerns. Kari has a long list of clientele as she carefully listens to understand the goals and guides them through the complete process of selling their property from listing to sale.

With nearly 11 years of distinguished service, Kari has won the following awards:

  • REMAX Platinum Club Award 2014 & 2015
  • 100% Club Award 2013
  • REMAX Top Listing Agent
  • REMAX Top Sales Agent
  • Presidents Club Award
  • Executives Club Award

Kari is mainly active in neighborhoods such as Hagerstown, Middletown, Smithsburg, New Market, Falling Waters, Boonsboro, Adamstown, Chambersburg, Shepherdstown, Brunswick, Clear Spring, Fairplay, Frederick, Keedysville, Maugansville, Myersville, Sharpsburg, Williamsport, Greencastle, Waynesboro, and Martinsburg. Her skills include sellers, buyers, first-time buyers, relocation, condos/townhomes, short sales, foreclosures, investment properties, and new construction. She is very active in the real estate community serving on the PenMar REALTOR® Association’s YPN Group and as a presenter at the Hagerstown Home Store. As a certified distressed property expert (CDPE), Kari is proficient in effective short sale negotiations. “If you must sell and the current value of your home is no longer enough to satisfy your mortgage a short sale can be a wonderful opportunity to avoid foreclosure. I have worked on many of these sales and would be glad to help you consider your options.” An alumna of University of Maryland College Park, Kari is interested in historic properties, music, photography, traveling, animal rights, and vegetarianism.

“Just tell me what you are looking for and I will search all of my sources and provide you with a convenient report of all the properties that you may be interested in complete with photographs of the properties and detailed neighborhood information.” Kari guarantees to advertise through multiple sources, competitive commission rates, and guides you through your next move! Call her today for more information on the current market.

For Sale : Take Away

It is not surprising that homeowners often wonder whether home warranty is more cost-effective than the actual repair expenses. Top home warranty review, rating, and comparison website, HomeWarrantyReviews.com has introduced Home Maintenance Calculator to better make an informed decision in purchasing a home warranty. There is also a widget code for all the realtors out there to use it on their websites and blog posts. This is a nice to have feature and sends out the right signal for all of the potential customers coming your way! (<iframe src=”https://www.homewarrantyreviews.com/home-maintenance-widget”></iframe>)




An offshoot of Home Warranty, Structural Warranty is a legal agreement between the builder of the home and you – the owner. Structural Warranty functions basically in the case of new homes, wherein the builder assures that the home he has built will have no structural defects for a period of ten years after its construction. His claim is covered by the company which offers him warranty coverage for the building, at times additionally including workmanship and internal systems.

Top tips for Structural Warranty for Newly constructed homes

The system functions just like Insurance, but covers defects which may occur due to age and wear and tear, not natural disasters or unforeseen circumstances. Like the Home Warranty covers the items in a home – its appliances, wiring and plumbing systems, interiors etc. – Structural Warranty covers elements like the foundation, girders and beams, roofing, and flooring.

What is Structural Warranty?

Before the purchase of a home, it is advised for either the new owner, seller or realtor to purchase Home Warranty, in order to establish a relationship of trust and confidence in both parties involved. Just as a Home Warranty leaves the new owner knowing that his home and all that is in it is secure for at least a year after its purchase, Structural Warranty establishes the same sense of security in the buyer of a new home straight from a builder.

It is rather simple – all structural defects are now to be fixed by the company that the Warranty has been purchased from or by the builder offering the warranty himself, and as long as the terms and conditions are met, neither the builder nor the new owner is liable.

Is Structural Warranty Necessary for me as a Buyer?

We see before our eyes appliances, electrical systems and plumbing leaks occur every once in awhile – but most of the time structural damage is noticeable only after it is too late. Given that large parts of the US are known to have soil that expands with seasonal changes, statistics show that more than 25% of all buildings in the country experience some kind of structural damage during the first decade of their life, almost 10% of this being major and often irreversible.

It isn’t always about how reputable the builder is, in fact, the more reliable the builder the higher the chances are of them investing in warranty for the homes they have built. Years after a deal is signed, sealed and delivered, a matter like soil expansion that is out of the hands of both the parties can spring up, making Structural Warranty the only way to guard against massive expenditure out of your own pocket in the future. Studies show that the warranty is most often claimed 4 to 7 years after a home is built to completion.

The Builder’s Perspective

Settling Terms of the Deal

The chances of an individual investing a sum as large as the cost of a home in anything else in his or her lifetime is very slim, making this purchase one that could develop complications if not done right. Builder’s offering Structural Warranty for the home they have built can not only assure the buyer of their expertise but also give them a legal document to go back to in case frivolous lawsuits or complaints are lodged. Like in the case of any two-way agreement, responsibilities, terms, and conditions are clearly outlined.

A Middleman

If a third party company is used to establish a warranty, then any complaints, disputes or discussions will be handled by them – until the point of reconciliation. This saves time and discomfort for both parties involved, especially the builder.

Value of the Home

If you happen to be a builder with larger holdings or varied properties and houses, then the value of each building is sure to increase if Structural Warranty is added to the mix. Use it as a marketing strategy, one that is true to every word and will help you build lasting relationships with your clients.

How Structural Warranty Works

Structural Warranty functions according to the guidelines of the Housing and Urban Development department of the US, which stipulates particular criteria within which a company must cover damages. Larger builders may choose to provide their own Structural Warranty schemes to the buyer, while builders without a department to handle such claims or smaller building agencies may choose to use third-party warranty companies. Even more so than Home Warranty claims and structures, Structural Warranty coverage and insurance backing vary drastically from builder to builder and company to company. If you happen to be a part of the decision making of who to choose, make sure you do your research and pick a coverage that is extensive and appropriate to your home.

What Structural Warranty Covers

If you go through a Structural Warranty contract or guide, you will notice one important point – the extremely specific and near legal language used to describe what that particular company or builder covers. Structural Warranty owes this specificity to regulations set by the Housing and Urban Development Department of the US, as well as to the builders’ need to protect themselves from futile claims and lawsuits.

Due to each Structural Warranty being unique (much like Home Warranties state-wise laws), we will get into what the warranty covers in general. Know that this isn’t ironclad, and you have to cross check the terms and conditions with your builder.

As a whole, third-party companies offer two kinds of warranty, one which accounts for any damage to the structure of the building from the moment the deal is closed between the builder and buyer. The second stipulates that the company will only begin to cover damage to the home 3 to 4 years post the sale, implying that any structural damage before then is up to the builder to fix.
Each company usually has a base plan and other additional perks that you can choose to opt for.

The basic coverage usually covers the following:

  • Beams, Pillars, and Columns
  • Girders and Lintels
  • Foundation of the home
  • Masonry arches
  • Roof beams, and framing systems
  • Flooring
  • Walls and partitions that bear the load and contribute to the building’s structural validity.

The last of these, load bearing partitions, are often accompanied by the additional coverage of non-load bearing partitions. These claims are almost purely cosmetic, and certain Structural Warranty companies do assure the fixing of these, keeping in mind the original material integrity of the home.

Integral to any warranty and insurance difference, Structural Warranty doesn’t cover any damage due to natural disaster, accidents or unforeseen circumstances; anything that is covered under insurance, basically.

Lastly, any structures added to the original home – an extension, outhouse and detached garage space for examples – would not be covered. If the need is felt, the builder could then purchase a separate Structural Home Improvement Warranty.

The Cost

Individual state laws in the US tackle Structural Warranty in different ways, making the cost different in each state as well. On an average, if the basic warranty is purchased, then it shouldn’t cost more than 1% of the purchase cost of the home. In most states which are positioned in low-risk areas (minimal soil expansion, etc.), the price is only about half a percent of the home’s price, whereas in high-risk zones the price can go up to 1.5% to 2%.

When looked at it in terms of a median example, while Structural Warranty would cost anywhere between $500 and $1500 for ten years, the repair in case of structural damage could be between $50,000 and $100,000; Structural Warranty being about one percent of the estimated repair budget.

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Here’s a write up about top home warranty companies in New Jersey. Now all you need to do is scroll through the list of companies, visit our site for a free quote and user reviews to pick your home warranty! We guarantee you that you’ll find that it is very useful!

Home Warranty Companies In New Jersey

Located in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of U.S.A, New Jersey is indeed a popular state. Fondly called as the Garden State of America, NJ has much to offer for its residents. No matter where in New Jersey you are, if you are a homeowner, your primary concern would be caring for your family and your home. Like most homeowners, it’s natural that you’ll worry about the expenses of repairing unexpected damages and replacements of your household appliances.

So here’s our list of top home warranty companies in NJ based on user reviews and ratings-

These companies have been around for several years and are on this list because of the feedback they have received on our site from their customers. Take a detailed look at each one of ‘em!

1. American Home Shield

American Home Shield or AHS as it’s commonly called, is a company that founded the home warranty industry. Naturally, this is a company with unparalleled experience and a nationwide footprint. AHS also has a massive contractor network where every single technician is selected after a stringent screening process.

AHs offers plans that are designed to suit the needs of homeowners, Realtors, buyers and sellers alike. Their plans are reasonably priced and standard plans start from as low as $250 every year. The company also has an online claims facility and a customer service facility that runs around the clock.

2. Home Service Club

Yet another popular home warranty company in NJ is the Home Service Club (HSC). This too is yet another company with nationwide footprint and with coverage in over 48 states. HSC too screens each technician in their contractor network and follow up with the customers to ensure that they are satisfied with the services.

HSC’s plans start from $400 annually and the deductibles are charged between $65 to $125. Warranty purchases can be made through their website which also has the facilities to allow homeowners track their account. Online claims can be made just as easily as claims can be made with their round the clock customer care service.

3. Select Home Warranty

Headquartered in NJ, Select Home Warranty is one company which has plans to cover anything from rental properties to mobile homes and condo units. They have three main warranty plans which vary in the extend of coverage and comes at affordable prices. This is one company that does not place an age restriction on the house or mandate a home inspection prior to purchasing a plan.

Select Home Warranty’s plans start at $299 annually and the average deductible is charged at $45 per service visit. Customers can purchase plans through their website and even place claims online to schedule to a repair.

4. HSA Home Warranty

This is a company with close to 30 years experience in selling warranty products. Like the others on this list, HSA too offers competitive plans at compelling prices to its customers. More than just home warranty plans, the company also has a host of other services and even a newsletter for homeowners, sellers, buyers and real estate agents.

Annual premium for plans sold by HSA range between $589 – $619. The deductible varies depending on the kind of plan you chose but is usually between $50 – $100. HSA too has a 24/7 claims facility and also the facility to place claims through their website.

5. Choice Home Warranty

Choice Home Warranty is a popular choice among NJ homeowners owing to their comprehensive warranty plans and affordable pricing policies. With policies that will add to the value of your home, CHW has managed to garner a lot of positive feedback from their customers.

Standard plans are available at premiums ranging from $370 – $450. Deductibles are charged starting at $60. CHW too has an online claims facility and has a massive network of skilled, licensed and experienced technicians ready to be dispatched when claims come in.

The Bottom Line

This list has been prepared based on actual user reviews submitted on our site. Therefore, there is a good chance that we may have missed out on an awesome company due to insufficient reviews. We welcome inputs from readers based in NJ to know more about companies there. Do let us know what you think. Also, you can take a look at top home warranty companies in various states across U.S.A. Cheers!