Monday, 22 August 2011

Is Routine New Home Maintenance Necessary to Maximize Warranty?

A new home is full of shiny new products and in most cases, backed with a safety net in the form of a new home warranty. With a new car, routine maintenance is an integral part to getting the most out of the warranty. Is this the same with a new home? Each province has unique laws and separate governing bodies for new home construction, so we must examine each individually to answer the question, “Is routine new home maintenance necessary to maximize warranty?” First up, British Columbia.

British Columbia’s Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) is a crown corporation that oversees the licensing of residential builders and execution of the Homeowner Protection Act (HPA). The HPA’s purpose is to protect consumers and raise the bar of professionalism in the residential construction industry.

The HPA states that a warranty provider may exclude specific items from home warranty insurance if damage is caused by negligent or improper maintenance or operation (Section 11). This would certainly answer the question of whether routine new home maintenance is necessary but it also opens the door to a more complicated one; “How does a homeowner know what the proper operation and maintenance is for each specific product in their home?”
To answer this question, we consulted three sources; Traveler’s Guarantee and National Home Warranty, BC’s two largest new home warranty providers, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Both warranty companies provide a homeowner maintenance manual with general tips on maintenance, but both are generic in nature. Each frequently instructs the reader to consult with manufacturer’s literature. The CMHC Homeowner’s Manual, which is endorsed by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA), is far more comprehensive at over 170 pages, but still references consulting specific product documents for in-depth operation and maintenance information. By the HPA’s definition of required operation & maintenance, none of these documents alone would give a homeowner enough information to keep their warranty in tact.

The bottom line is a new home requires work. Understanding the products & components of a home and how your new home warranty interrelates will allow homeowners to get the most out of their new home. Manufacturer product documents such as Operation Manuals & Maintenance Guides, combined with a maintenance schedule is necessary for anyone to meet all of their obligations as a homeowner.
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