Is a home warranty inspection worth it?

Peace of mind for an added cost

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Home warranties are service contracts that cover repair or replacement costs for major systems and appliances, such as an HVAC system or refrigerator. Similar to homeowners insurance, a warranty can help you avoid expensive out-of-pocket costs. If you’re considering purchasing a home warranty, it may be beneficial to schedule a home inspection first.

While not required, an inspection will give you an impartial assessment of the systems and appliances covered by the warranty, providing both you and the warranty company with a detailed snapshot of the home’s condition.

Key insights

  • Most home warranty providers don’t require an inspection.
  • Typical home inspections cost between $200 and $500.
  • A home warranty inspection offers insights into the condition of your home and can identify preexisting issues.

What is a home warranty inspection?

Buying a home is a significant investment and comes with several added costs. Similar to homeowners insurance, a home warranty can cover the cost of fixing or replacing certain items in your home. While insurance covers damage related to covered perils, like theft or a fire, a warranty can pay the costs to repair or replace covered appliances and major systems.

» MORE DETAILS: What is a home warranty?

A home warranty inspection is a detailed assessment of a home’s structure and major systems and appliances. An inspector will assess the condition of these items and give a detailed report on their findings. While a home inspection typically takes place during the homebuying process, you can request an inspection at any time for your home.

The goal of a home warranty inspection is to make both the homeowner and warranty provider aware of any preexisting problems with major appliances and systems covered by the policy. Some policies exclude preexisting conditions, so you’ll want to address these issues before signing up or look for a policy that doesn’t have this exclusion.

Some of the areas an inspector will focus on include:

  • HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems
  • Roof and gutters
  • Attic and basement
  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Foundation and exterior structures
  • Door and windows
  • Kitchen appliances

Note that this is a comprehensive inspection, but not all these items will be covered by a home warranty. The major systems and kitchen appliances should be covered in a policy. Some companies offer roof leak protection, while others don’t. Keep in mind that an inspector might not check the washer and dryer or refrigerator, but those items are part of most home warranty programs. If you haven’t signed up for a policy yet, you can typically find sample contracts on a company’s website, so review what’s covered and any exclusions beforehand.

Once you have this detailed report, the inspection will help protect you against disputes with your provider and ensure the terms of your policy align with the state of your appliances and systems.

» MORE: Home inspection checklist for buyers

What are the pros of a home warranty inspection?

Home warranty inspections come with several considerable advantages for homeowners. An inspection provides a detailed assessment of a home’s systems and appliances. Since it’s performed by a licensed inspector, a home warranty inspection is likely to expose important issues you otherwise wouldn’t discover until the system or appliance fails completely.

These thorough inspections also make misunderstandings and disputes between homeowners and warranty providers much less likely. With a documented assessment of the inspection results, both parties will be on the same page about the state of the home and how that plays into the policy’s coverage.

With a home warranty inspection, homeowners also have the option to immediately repair or replace any systems or appliances that have preexisting issues, ensuring proper coverage in the future under the warranty’s terms. By exposing hidden problems, homeowners can better prepare for future costs and know what to expect down the line.

» LEARN: Is a home warranty worth it?

What are the cons of a home warranty inspection?

If the inspection turns up significant issues, it could lead to higher premiums or reduced coverage. If a preexisting condition is found, you’ll be stuck footing the bill for any repairs or replacements unless you find a company that doesn’t have this exclusion.

Most notably, inspections can lead to higher upfront costs for homeowners. Depending on the size of the house and region, an inspection can cost between $200 and $500. If you’re in the process of buying a new home, an inspection is likely already factored into your budget. But current homeowners might not have the extra funds along with a warranty premium.

It’s also worth noting that getting a home warranty inspection doesn’t completely rule out the chance of a dispute. Since inspections are done by a third party, there could be a disagreement between the inspector’s report and the warranty provider’s assessment during a claim.

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    How much does a home warranty inspection cost?

    It depends. The price of a home warranty inspection can vary considerably based on factors like your home’s size and location and the number and complexity of appliances and systems being evaluated. The average price for a home warranty inspection is between $200 and $500.

    That said, there’s enough variation in price that it’s worth shopping around for quotes from a few different home inspection providers.

    Can I skip a home warranty inspection if I had a recent home inspection?

    If you had a home inspection within the last year or you stay on top of yearly maintenance schedules with all systems and appliances, you can probably skip an inspection. However, if you’ve been lax with maintenance or have old, outdated equipment, it’s best to get these items inspected before signing up for a home warranty plan.

    Can I perform a home warranty inspection myself?

    Performing your own home warranty inspection isn’t recommended. Typical home inspections are performed by licensed professionals with years of experience and a keen eye for the details that could affect your policy.

    If you tackle the inspection on your own, there’s a good chance you’ll miss things, leading to potential disputes with your warranty provider. Most importantly, many home warranty providers insist on inspections performed by licensed inspectors to avoid mistakes.

    What is a one-year home inspection?

    Also known as an 11-month home inspection, this type of inspection differs from a home warranty inspection. If you purchased a new-construction home, it will come with a builders warranty. A new home needs to go through a full year of seasons to ensure no problems pop up while the foundation settles.

    Around the 11-month mark, you should get a full inspection done. If there are any defects or issues covered under the warranty, the builder is required to fix them.

    How do I choose a reputable home warranty inspection company?

    Here are some tips to consider when shopping around for a home warranty inspection company:

    • Reviews: Look for a company with a good reputation that is well established in the industry.
    • Certifications: The inspector should be fully licensed and accredited and have ample experience.
    • Covered areas: The inspection company should offer inspections of the specific items covered under your warranty.
    • Cost: While saving money is always important, quality should be your main priority. An inexperienced inspector will likely miss key problems.
    • Customer service: Choose a firm that’s both helpful and easy to deal with.

    Bottom line

    Is a home warranty inspection worth it? It depends.

    Home warranty inspections are helpful for identifying preexisting problems with your home and its systems and appliances. They also provide a paper trail between you and your warranty provider, making disagreements on what’s covered far less likely. Inspections can save you from unexpected repair bills, since they may alert you to issues you can fix before they get worse.

    The main downside is the cost of the inspection itself — and unexpected repair expenses could easily offset some of the savings of having a home warranty in the first place.

    If you’re someone who values a clear and detailed understanding of the state of your home, getting an inspection makes sense.

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