The home-buying experience can be complicated, terrifying and littered with a lot of misunderstanding. Sometimes, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction.
We set out to dispel some of those things that “people say” about homeownership that just aren’t true. Here are some of our favorite misconceptions:
Myth 1: A lifetime warranty means you’re covered for life.
Ah, if only this were the case. The term “lifetime warranty” is usually a bad choice of words, as it rarely means a person’s lifetime. The definition varies from company to company, and it’s important to read the fine print before making a big purchase, said Peter Besen, CEO and a cofounder of Blink, a home automation company. For example, some replacement window companies consider a lifetime warranty to be as little as five years, whereas Milgard will repair or replace any defect in materials or workmanship and will pay the costs of all parts and labor for as long as the purchaser owns the home.
A real lifetime warranty adds to the value of a product and most likely will cost more. If the warranty stays with the home, that becomes a value-added when you sell as well. Buying a house is a trigger point for buying other things, such as appliances, new doors, and cabinetry in the garage, so make sure you know the terms of the warranties.
Myth 2: New appliances are always more efficient than their older counterparts.
Actually, new does not always mean more efficient. A shocker, right? There are still some dishwashers, refrigerators and washing machines that are being made exactly like their predecessors, with very little added efficiency. But nothing says you have to buy one of them.
Energy-efficient appliances are like electric cars: You pay more upfront, but presumably reap the rewards in what you save to run those appliances down the road.
Energy Star has a worksheet to help you figure out whether it’s worth it to trade your old refrigerator for a new energy-efficient one. If it turns out that it costs much more to purchase a new appliance than the energy savings over five years, then you may want to hold onto your old friends a while longer.
One way to ensure you are really getting an energy-efficient appliance is to look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star-certified refrigerators are about 9 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy-efficiency standard, according to the Energy Star website.
Myth 3: Home security systems are just for the rich.
It’s true that many alarm systems on the market cost hundreds of dollars to install and require long-term contracts and monthly fees. But there are less expensive options ― including some apps that allow you to monitor your home from afar. Plus, keep in mind that most homeowners insurance policies offer a 15 percent to 20 percent discount for homes protected by a security system or alarm.
Why else would you want one? The FBI says that a burglary occurs every 18.2 seconds in the U.S.
A report by the University of North Carolina found that 60 percent of convicted burglars said the presence of a security system influenced their decision to target another home.
Myth 4: The more bells and whistles something has, the more parts there are to break. Go simple.
Well, yes and no. It used to be true that smart home devices were restricted to the most tech-savvy individuals. However, times have changed, and millions of homeowners now enjoy the enhanced convenience and savings that a smart home can offer ― and smart home companies have figured out how to make the setup process as easy as connecting your phone to Wi-Fi.
To stay away from a dishwasher that sends you a text when a wine glass tips over just because it “might” break seems foolish. To stay away from it because you don’t need the feature, on the other hand, makes perfect sense.
Myth 5: Insurance covers a flood – of any sort.
Homeowners’ insurance is a funny duck. One of the biggest misconceptions is that it covers nearly any type of claim. Can you hear the flood victims in Florida chortling? Many policies only cover water damage that happens accidentally from an interior source. This means that the damage resulting from a burst kitchen pipe or broken dishwasher hose would be covered, but it might not cover damage caused by an outside sewer pipe or drain backing up. If you foresee this being an issue, it’s worth having a conversation with your insurance agent about adding additional coverage to ensure you’re protected
Myth 6: DIY projects don’t require permits.
Many communities, counties and states want to sign off on home improvement or remodeling work ― no matter who does it. When you hire a contractor, he generally will submit the plans and get a permit for the work, which is subject to inspection once completed. Although small DIY projects like replacing flooring or painting don’t require a permit, you very likely will need a permit from your local government when it comes to adding electrical outlets or replacing windows. Before you start your project, make sure you contact a local representative to share your proposed plans. They will then be able to tell you next steps and permit pricing. Yes, permits cost money.
Myth 7: Any remodeling project adds value to your house.
Oh, if it were only true! Although a good project will definitely add value, a poor one can actually reduce your home’s value come resale time. For instance, if an empty-nester decides to finally build their dream master bedroom by removing the wall between a neighboring bedroom, you’ve reduced the bedroom count.
On the other hand, a nicely renovated kitchen or bathroom tend to be costs that pay for themselves. According to HGTV, you can expect to recoup 60 percent to 120 percent of your investment on a kitchen remodel, as long as you don’t go overboard. You should never make your kitchen fancier than the rest of the house, or the neighborhood.
Installing an in-ground swimming pool also may seem like a good idea, but in most climates, it will make your house more difficult to sell. Many families with small children do not want to buy a house with a pool. Plus, installing a pool increases energy costs and raises your homeowners insurance. If you live in a hot-weather state, you may recoup, at most, 30 percent to 50 percent of your investment in a pool. Anywhere else, a pool will likely decrease the value of your home.
And the remodeling projects that recoup the most aren’t exactly high on the thrill bar. According to Remodeling magazine, you’ll get back more of what you spend on basic home maintenance, such as new siding, than you would on a kitchen remodel. Siding replacement recouped 92.8 percent of its cost, according to the magazine. Replacing roofs and windows were also high on the list, returning 80 percent or more at resale.