When we bought our house, there were two big issues we knew that we needed to deal with right away:
- the ancient furnace for the first floor was so poorly maintained we weren’t sure it would run
- the 32 year old roof was at the end of it’s life and there was a hole in it (it was actively leaking into the attic every time it rained)
Thankfully we knew about both of these issues when we bid on the house, and we were able to negotiate thousands of dollars back at closing to go towards those updates (since a new roof and a new furnace are hardly cheap fixes). Then it was just a matter of getting them repaired as soon as possible. So while we were on our book tour, picture us playing phone tag with furnace folks and roofers in order to get those things straight while bouncing around the country. And by some miracle, we were able to get the furnace cleaned and running along with a completely new 50 year dimensional shingle roof within a few weeks of owning the house.
It was crazy to see how much rot there was (in some cases, the entire roof, including the plywood underneath, had to be removed and replaced).
It definitely got a little worse looking before it got better…
… but Clara didn’t seem fazed by the 2′ piles of old roofing stuff around the house. Atta girl.
Ahh, much better.
Oh and as for how we chose the roofer, we used them on our first house and loved them (they’re a a fully insured family owned local business who’ve been in the roofing game for nearly 60 years). We still got three roofing estimates again, just to be sure, but they came in at the best price plus they were folks we had used already – so it was a nice easy choice.
When it came to choosing the type of roof, we looked around at homes in our neighborhood and noticed that the brick colonials that we loved the most had this type of roof (it’s a 50 year dimensional shingle roof that has nice big slate-like shapes going on, which seemed more to scale with the house) so we pulled the trigger. You can see them best on the lower roof on the left of the house (that’s over the garage) in this picture:
You get more of the slate-like look when you get closer. Here’s a photo of a smaller awning on the back of the house that shows how beefy and square-ish the tiles are. The brand is GAF Camelot 2, and the color is Antique Slate. It actually has a lifetime warranty, so although it’s occasionally known as a 50 year roof, it could hold up longer (knock on wood). Plus it has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, which is nice, but I always wish there was an actual seal (you know, with a ball on his nose) in the logo. Missed opportunity.
But while the new roof felt like a nice long-term fix (which was especially comforting after we confirmed that there was no long-term damage or mold from that leak) we continued to have issues with the furnace. So that initial fix felt like a band-aid while the new roof was a nice solid improvement. Apparently the furnace was original to the house (32 years old) and had never been cleaned. Never! They didn’t even think the filter had been changed once. So yeah. It was, in the words of Rob Lowe on Parks & Rec, LITERALLY a hot mess.
And since it was so old and has never really been serviced or maintained, it was incredibly hard to find parts. So finally after our 5th service call or so (we were smelling gas in the garage, which was SCARY and we worried there was some sort of leak or carbon monoxide issue) we got a pretty amazing call from our home warranty folks. We were getting a brand new Goodman furnace (which comes with an awesome warranty). On the house! As in, it was going to be free thanks to the 1 year home warranty that we got when we bought our house (we paid about $500 for it at closing because we knew if anything major broke in that time, it would be covered, and that peace of mind seemed worth it to us). Let me tell you, when they pulled into our driveway with a new 5K furnace (which included free installation and some new duct work)… that $500 was the best money we ever spent!
So those are two updates that we did way back when we got the house, just because they couldn’t wait. Sorry it took so long for us to share them, we had to clear out some moving chaos that we had amassed in the garage to get that breathtakingly gorgeous after shot of the furnace that you see above.
On one hand it felt really nice to check two major things off the list so early (especially since one was free from the home warranty company and one was paid for with money that we got back at closing), but it was also a nice early lesson that juggling two houses was a lot more overwhelming than one. In fact John’s parents had to meet the service folks at our new house for an emergency furnace appointment once because we were on a plane coming back from a tour stop in Palo Alto.
So we got these two big important things taken care of as quickly as we could and immediately clicked back into “current house mode” in the hopes of avoiding immediate brain combustion (that’s a thing, right?). Then once we wrapped up the tour, the holidays, and the rest of the projects we wanted to complete at our last house, we finally allowed ourselves to switch gears back into “new house mode.” Which was so exciting it made me want to write one word 3,000 letter posts like this:
While doing this dance.
So there’s gotta be a lesson in here somewhere, right? Maybe it’s “seriously consider the $500 home warranty, just for the peace of mind!” And I think there’s something to our roof-picking method (we literally just drove all over our neighborhood staring at the ones we liked best and tried to analyze why we liked them). Did you do a “neighborhood crawl” like we did? Have you ever gotten anything for free within the first year of home ownership thanks to a home warranty?
Update: It has been really interesting to read everyone’s experiences in the comment section. While a bunch of folks have scored new items thanks to a home warranty (and some people renew them every year since they find them to be so worth it) others haven’t been as happy with theirs and have terrible stories of frustration and disappointment. It seems to really depend on the region, warranty company, and each individual situation.
We’re kind of new to home ownership. We’ve made a note to replace the furnace filter regularly, but what’s involved in a “cleaning”? How often should that get done?
Fortunately the previous owners of our house were anal-retentively clean, so I don’t foresee an issue like you encountered. Scary!
We got ours cleaned once a year (we paid a flat yearly fee for them to come out and it also covered replacement parts and free service fees if anything happened, which was nice).
Do you guys ever carry the home warranty beyond the first year? We didn’t get it for the first year, but now that we’re into the second year, I was debating it. If so, do you recommend a specific vendor or just through your lender?
We have never extended ours but many folks have commented to say they renew it each year for the peace of mind!
We received a home warranty on the last home we purchased. When we moved in, we realized that the air conditioner was not working (and may have been one of the first air conditioners ever made – SERIOUSLY). We were SUPER happy that within two days after we moveed in, we had a BRAND new AC and it didn’t cost us a penny. Whoo hoo for home warranties!!
Whoa – looking at the roof, I’m so glad you had a different house to live in before it was fixed… and even while that hot mess was happening. Yikes.
I’ve never owned a home, and I’m agog that the furnace filter had been unchanged for so long! Holy smokes! So glad it worked out for you and that you’re now warm enough and safe. The new roof looks amazing!
We loved our warranty! It covered a brand new refrigerator, and new circuit boards for both the oven and dishwasher…all at different times that first year! So glad we had it! And love your new roof- beautiful!
On another note, I wanted to tell you that I was the 40+ weeks pregnant reader at your Wilton, CT book signing and when I returned home, we had power again! And two days later, we had a boy! He’s usually snoozing on my shoulder every morning when I read YHL! :)
Aw, it was so nice to meet you Jess! So glad your power was back and you had your little boy two days later!
We purchased a home warranty 2 years ago when we bought our house, and it is definitely one of our better decisions. We purchased a warranty to cover our home as well as added coverage for our pool.
We’re coming up on our 3rd renewal this summer, and although the annual expense of $650 is kind of a hit, as long as we budget for it, it still makes sense to keep it in place. Our refrigerator and range are both on the fritz (and who knows how much longer OUR furnace will hold up), so it adds a definitely peace of mind into owning a home.
Something that people don’t realize is that you can buy a home warranty anytime (not just at the time when you first purchase a home). Often, it’s worth it to contact a home warranty company and purchase the warranty on your current home when you suspect things are due to begin needing repair.
Mary | lemongroveblog says
Way to knock two big ones off the list! The roof looks amazing! Love the shingles you guys picked out.
Sarah Wolpert says
I’ll take your small roof hole and raise you a large roof hole in an asbestos roof!
People thought we were crazy to get a house with a hole. I’m glad to see we aren’t the only ones!
We def did a neighborhood shopping trip. We still do! Landscaping, curtains, paint, porches…the neighborhood is the best showroom!
And we did a roof replacement while we were in Barbados on our honeymoon with limited phone and internet. It is so worth using contractors you know and trust!
Woah! Holey asbestos roof wins! So glad you got it done (and while in Barbados, no less, haha!).
Heather P. says
Not a homeowner yet, but I’m loving that you guys explain all of this to your readers. I’ve learned so much from you guys about the home purchasing process, inspections, warranties, and other stuff that I think will make it a lot better for me whenever we do buy our first home. It’s nice to know there are things like warranties out there to protect homeowners if something falls apart within that first year – totally worth the cost!
OMG. Amazing GIF….gotta busta move sometimes.
That is how we choose our roof! We had hail damage on our roof and siding so every time we drove we checked out siding colors and roof colors to see what we liked the best!
I’m not a homeowner yet, and this may be a dumb question, but what does “negotiate thousands of dollars back at closing to go towards those updates” mean? I would love to know about how these sorts of things work. One of the reasons I would be reluctant to pull the trigger on a house that requires a lot of updates is because I wonder how we would find all of the cash to pay for unexpected issues that are really expensive – like tens of thousands of dollars expensive. It would be great if you guys could write a post that addresses some of these issues with home reno.
Here’s a comment that hopefully helps with how we negotiated (it’s different in every case, but many sellers will pay closing costs or give back money at the inspection stage, so that helps): https://www.younghouselove.com/2013/06/two-big-important-things/#comment-1572279
We did the neighborhood crawl when we replaced our windows so we could see the style we liked in real life and make sure the vinyl ones would replicate the look of the original ones we were taking out of our 1936 house. Nice to have the heritage look without the enormous heating bill in the winter!
Megan @ Rappsody in Rooms says
Ok, that Celine Dion happy dance is hysterical! I have never seen it before. Anyways, great information about the home warranty. Most of the time I pass on things like that because I think it’s a scam. Glad to hear these aren’t!
I’ve mentioned on another post that we’re in the middle of buying our first home now, and we had the inspection this past weekend. While everything looked great, there were a few older pieces of equipment in the form of one of the heat pumps (we have two on the house) and the hot water heater. While both are working now, it’s questionable how much longer they’ll hold up (the hot water heater is 21 years old and leaking a little bit already). Luckily we have an awesome realtor who buys all of his clients the one year home warranty and we’re kind of hoping that both of those problem pieces kick the bucket in our first year. So send us some good juju that they’ll die and we’ll be able to take advantage of the warranty!
That’s so sweet of your realtor! Wow!
Jessica Leonard says
I love that you’re stalking your neighbors homes! I do that every time I take my son for a walk. I’m trying to get ideas for redoing the flower beds in our front yard. I think I’m seriously starting to freak people out with my staring!
We’re under contract (scheduled to close on July 12th EEEE!) for our first house and Coldwell Banker offered us their Home Warranty service, powered by American Home Shield. I was doing some research and I couldn’t find ONE positive review about them. It just makes me nervous to spend MORE money at closing – but this post makes me think it might be worth it.
We have a similar situation with the hot water heater and oil burner (both original to the 60-year old home), need to be repaired/replaced, but the water heater was leaking during the inspection and the oil burner was recommended for replacement (delayed response from thermostat) AND the oven doesn’t work (stove did). My guess is these items would NOT be covered under the Warranty, because they were identified as problematic during the inspection, but from your post Sherry, it sounds like they might? I guess I’m confused :(
Good question! Things that are “pre-existing conditions” are not covered, so if something is broken when you get it it’s your issue, but if it breaks after you move in it should be covered. So for example, if we couldn’t get our furnace running we couldn’t get a new one since it was considered broken when we got it. Thankfully we got it running and heated the house for a few weeks and then it broke down (new issue, needed a different part) and then finding that part and later learning that there was a new garage leak was all that it took for them to say “alright, this thing is too hard to fix, you get a new one!” – and we’re so grateful they did!
If you decide you want a home warranty but not from that company just call the others. You don’t even have to be in a sales transaction, they sell them to anyone.
I would liken it to buying 500 lottery tickets. Some people would come out ahead, most don’t.
This is cynical but if you’re a well-known DIY blogger and someone at your warranty company recognizes that, you might be more likely to get lucky.
Oh I definitely don’t think that’s what happened. We are just a code number in their system (they ask for your warranty number not your name) and it’s a call center that handles things. It felt extremely “automated” so I don’t think a soul who worked there had any idea about our blog. It sounds like from many of the comments that other folks have had lots of luck with full replacements while others don’t. Luck of the draw and regional differences/company coverage I think…
Rebecca B. says
Christine, we have AHS and have renewed it twice since we purchased our house (it was paid for initially by the seller). I don’t know about items that aren’t working at the time of the sale, but we’ve had them out several times to fix our leaky water heater and have only had to pay the service fee ($75 for the initial visit, no charge when they came back to put the part in). We’ve been told by the repair man that at least one of those repairs probably would have been pretty pricey. Hope that helps some!
The roof looks amazing! We just purchased our very first home and received a new roof in the negotiations, which looks awesome. We’ve also run into a non-working appliance issue – the A/C unit! Luckily, we also negotiated a home warranty so we’re hoping to get the entire unit replaced as it’s very old, as opposed to an easy fix. But, it’s good to hear that they still replaced your entire unit even after trying to initially just fix one part. Fingers crossed!
We just sold our house in May and we had a warranty attached to it. It saved us lots of $$$! We had the same situation, 30ish year old furnace and constant issues. The weather turned nice and then the house sold but I have a feeling the new home owners will be getting a new furnace. It was a pain dealing with it but totally worth it in the end. I would go that route again.
We put a new roof on our house before moving in. It had been a shake roof and there were little trees growing out of it! One small piece on the back of the house had been metal so our roofer just matched it and redid the entire roof. Metal is popular up here so it fit right into the neighborhood. We had extra insulation installed which deadened any sound of rain. We are extremely happy with it and glad it was done prior to our move. Best of luck with your new roof. I looks great!
Our AC broke about 3 weeks before our Home Warranty expired! It was a super easy fix, didn’t even meet the full deductible we had to pay. I think if we didn’t have the home warranty, the service call would have turned into a sales call and we would have been talked into buying a brand new AC when it really wasn’t necessary.
We bought our home almost one year ago. The day we moved in, we found out that our well pump had burnt up….and it was not included under our warranty. Glad yall had a better experience with your warranty.
You mentioned you were worried about carbon monoxide exposure due to an odor….I think it’s important to note that CO is odorless and colorless. I hope you guys will consider getting a CO monitor.
Oh yes, we got a bunch as soon as the inspector told us to! They were in the house even when it was vacant before we moved in!
In Texas a home warranty is generally paid for by the seller FOR the buyer. It is asked for in the contract. We bought one for the home we sold almost a year ago and were given one by the seller for the home we bought. We haven’t had anything break down in our 8 year old home and the pool is also covered. Ours is up for renewal as it expires July 5th so we are debating as to if we should renew or not. It’s about $650 because it costs $150 extra to include the pool. However, as you spelled out, it can really save a ton if something major breaks down. In Texas (The Woodlands) we use our air conditioner almost year round so it’s a huge expense if it goes out.
megs & bacon says
I had 2 new furnaces, 2 AC repairs, 7 plumber calls, 10 roofer calls, a new water heater…. and then the home warranty company cancelled us after 6 months. Tee hee. We have not been invited back.
ok so I’m definitely buying a home warranty for my 1st home
Our A/C died the first year and the replacement was covered by the home warranty. I think it was a refurb and it was HUGE but it worked great and we saved like $4k! It was painless and I’d never buy a house without getting a warranty now.
I know it’s rude to ask, but I’m coming up on a total roof replacement myself and need to know…
…about what did that new roof cost?
Here’s a thread on that for ya Barbara: https://www.younghouselove.com/2013/06/two-big-important-things/#comment-1572246
Kasey Befeler says
Yes and yes! That’s exactly how we chose our roof too, and home warranties can be so worth it – and have been for us in the past! Free furnace ‘fix’, and free dishwasher!
[email protected] says
You have no idea how happy I was to see this post. Hubby & I are currently in the same roof situation. We have a cedar roof that needs to be completely replaced. Our roofer suggested GAF shingles & I’m on my 3rd selection and still can’t get the color or style we like. We haven’t tried the Camelot2 yet so I’ll have to dig out the brochures & look it over.
Just curious, does the antique slate have a green undertone? The front of our house it brick but the rest is cedar siding so we are trying to stay as neutral as possible. I’m always drawn to the slate shingles though.
Thanks a bunch!!!
It doesn’t seem to have any color undertone (it’s just a medium gray, so maybe that’s the trees reflecting in the photos?). Good luck Amelia!
There was a 1-year home warranty included in the purchase of our house in 2011, and THANK GOOODNESS it was! We moved in on Dec 21st, and woke up to sewage in our basement on New Year’s Eve! Because of the warranty, we only had to pay $60, but the plumbers told us it would have cost us over $500 just to have them come to the house on a holiday Saturday!
Woah, that sounds like a bad time!
We do the neighborhood crawl when it comes to landscaping. I am always wanting to add more shrubs, my husband thinks less it better. We like looking at neighbors homes and finding a happy medium.
A home warranty is definately the best money spent when buying a house. Our water heater went 3 days after we moved into our house and they covered it for a $75 service fee! Amazing!!!
We got a new garbage disposal and a new water heater in our first year. We also have a 30+ year old furnace and actually just re-upped our home warranty just because of the giant fear that it will die on us.
Amy @ Croquet & Cocktails says
We were totally creeping on neighbors’ houses this weekend when we were deciding on a color for our windows and doors on our house in Snowshoe, WV. The project has come as a bit of a surprise (we figured windows and doors were in the game-plan, but the decks and siding with it were definitely not planned!) I’m a visual person, so checking out the diggs is the best way for me to get a good idea of what I want to see. Here’s our latest update: http://croquetncocktails.blogspot.com/2013/06/may-updatein-june-dont-judge.html
Such a gorgeous house!
Amy @ Croquet & Cocktails says
Aw, you’re being nice… It will be gorgeous when we’re done (fingers crossed). Perhaps a house crash/ ski weekend will need to be arranged :)
Since obviously not all homeowner policies are the same and so many folks have had a tough time getting decent service – would you be willing to tell us what policy/company you got? Did you select the company/policy or did your seller?
We just used Old Republic which is the biggest/most common one in our area. We used it for all three houses and paid for a warranty for the buyers of our previous houses as well (it’s a selling incentive for turn-key houses while fixer uppers don’t often offer those so the buyer gets it themselves if they want it).
Holy schnazerballs! Consider yourselves very very lucky to live where you do. Where I am from, you can’t get a home warrenty on an old house. And if you could, there is no way they would ever replace a 35 year old furnace under that warrenty. Geez, I’ve heard it’s pulling teeth to get builders to honour even new home warranties.
We love our home warranty! When we moved into our house, the furnace was so loud. It sounded like the house was taking off! $60 later, the fan was replaced and now it is super quiet and works great! Next up: the broken garage door and the garbage disposal.
We actually used our home warranty 2 days after we closed on our house. The water heater, which was old but had been working just fine at inspection time, flat-out died as we were moving our things in. The company we used was pretty good about replacing it quickly, which I appreciated. We then used it again about 2 weeks later when the shower in the master bathroom started leaking inside the wall (our toilet paper roll holder would “cry” during showers – highly suspect). The only complaint with that one was that the warranty covered the plumber’s cost to repair the pipes…but nothing to repair the huge hole that had to be cut into the wall to get to the pipes (bummer).
We bought a home warranty with our current house. It came in really handy. Shortly after we moved in our stove went out. Thanks to the home warranty what would have been about a $400.00 repair was only $60.00. Not a bad deal. So, we pretty much broke even with ours, but at least we had the peace of that if anything major happened it was covered.
I thought your roof looked familiar! We got the Camelot about 3 years ago on our house! Lighter color though. Good choice;). We still have people knocking on our door to find out what roof we had installed.
That’s funny! We had a neighbor ask us two days ago!
Home Warranty FTW! The seller paid for ours when we bought our house six years ago. Our house is now twenty years old and still has the original heating and air whatnot. We renew the contract every year because it really comes in handy when it’s 100 outside and the air conditioner dies. Or, when your water heater gives out and floods your garage.
Elizabeth S says
Hey Guys, Awesome news about the furnace! So we just moved into a new house 1 month ago and during week *TWO* we came home to a flooded garage/laundry. A pipe had leaked under the slab and come up into the rooms. Thank Goodness – Our realtor had scored us a free home warranty at closing (and just told us later) as a bargaining chip. What a deal! We only paid $60 to have the plumber come jackhammer the floor and repair the pipe and repour the concrete. The cost would have been around $700+! Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one :)
Hey guys! I know you do your homework and that this is a great fix for you so I’m putting this out there more for your readers: we’ve had nothing but problems with our Goodman system. We’ve paid for it several times over in repairs in the 6 years we’ve had it and Goodman has not honored a single word of their warranty. We’re actually getting a new system next week! Maybe it’s living without AC for the last week or the fact that we’ve paid for the HVAC repair guys kids to go to college that’s made me a big ole cranky pants but I say BUYER BEWARE!
PS: Lovin’ the new digs!!
That stinks! So far we’ve heard from someone who loves theirs (one service call in 7 years I think?) and your experience, so I really think it varies. Bummer they’re being difficult about the warranty though! We read online that it’s one of the best around.
I’m curious if you will keep the home warranty after a year, or do you think its not worth it? i bought my house in powhatan 1 year and 2 weeks ago, which came with a 1 yr home warranty, and used it to replace a $200 part on my heat pump for $60 service fee. when renewal came up 3 weeks ago, i debated renewing the policy because i wasn’t sure if it was worth the $500 (or $48/mo).. but i got so nervous that I might have another heat pump problem, i thought better safe than sorry and renewed. just wondering :)
nevermind. just saw where you dont renew after the first year. sorry :)
We have never renewed after a year so we don’t think we will but we’re not 100% sure…
Love your new roof. It looks amazing. So scary to have a hole right through the old one.
I’m definitely do the drive by other houses to find out what you like in a roof. Ours will probably need to be replaced next year.
Tash @ The Dreamhouse Project says
The roof looks beautiful! Love the colour choice – the neighbourhood crawl was definitely worth it. :-)
Such great info on the home warranty. Definitely a small investment that more often than not pays off! Thanks for sharing!
Deb D. says
Okay, you may have covered this already, but was the old roof cedar shingles? It looks like natural wood. If so, what made you decide not to replace with the same thing? PS: The new looks nice, but just not as natural as the old one.
Oh yes the old one was cedar shake but it’s not as fire safe (so insurance is higher along with being less safe) and its about twice as much (which definitely put it out of our budget).
You guys are my hero’s for A) being able to keep a secret for that long, and B) dealing with major issues like that WHILE ON TOUR!
Our fridge crapped out on us 2 days after moving into our new home. We didn’t have a home warranty, but it was an old, cheap fridge anyway. Craigslist came to the rescue with a 3 yr old stainless steel fridge for only $500. Winning! :)
Glad your home warranty worked! We got one with our house, and are really hoping that the 15 year old air conditioners bite the dust in the next 5 months.