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A home is one of the biggest investments a person will ever make and in order to keep that home glowing and increasing in value, a well-maintained property should be the goal for years to come. Of course, a warranty will provide protection, but seasonal maintenance by the homeowner is also key to long-lasting digs. As a professional in the industry, you’ve seen first-hand what irresponsibility will do to a residence. It’s imperative to remind your buyers that even though a home may be brand spanking new, regular maintenance is absolutely necessary to ensure safety, comfort, and retain resale value.

It’s easy to preach to a homebuyer about keeping up with seasonal tasks and send them on their merry way, but why not arm them with a comprehensive list of things they should be aware of? Steer them toward RWC's "season maintenance checklist" under the Homeowner's tab. This is a great tool for homeowners to stay on top of things. Furthermore, you as the builder must have gathered hundreds of maintenance tips during your career. Offer up those tips and hints as you meet with your clients throughout the home building journey.

Just for fun, here is a home maintenance quiz that will test your know-how. While this quiz does not address every conventional home maintenance project, it does provide helpful tips that may have been overlooked.

1. How often do forced-air furnace filters need to be changed?
At least every three months during the heating season.
2. What part of the faucet usually needs to be replaced when you have a water leak?
The washer.
3. Should you run hot or cold water through your garbage disposal?
Cold water.
4. How often should the moving parts of garage doors be oiled?
Every three months.
5. What tools can you use to unclog your drains?
A plunger and a plumber’s snake.
6. What tool can be used to unclog a toilet?
Coil spring-steel auger.
7. What faucet part needs to be cleaned every three to four months?
Aerator — the screen inside the end of the faucet.
8. What can you use for traction on icy sidewalks, steps, and driveways?
Cat litter or sand — never use salt because it damages the pavement.
9. Where should the fire in your fireplace be built?
On the irons or grate, never on the fireplace floor.
10. What will prevent soot and add color to the fire in your fireplace?
Throw in a handful of salt.
11. Where should your firewood be stored?
Outside, away from your house and not directly on the ground.
12. What helps keep unpainted concrete floors easy to keep clean?
Concrete Sealer.
13. What should you use to clean unpainted concrete floors?
A solution of 4 to 6 tablespoons of washing soda in a gallon of hot water. Mix scouring powder to the solution for tough jobs.
14. Why should frozen pipes be thawed slowly?
Frozen pipes should be thawed slowly to prevent the formation of steam, which could cause the pipe to burst.
15. How often should your roof be inspected?
A qualified roofer should inspect your roof every three years.
16. What should be regularly checked on your security system?
The alarms and circuit breakers should be checked to make sure they are in working order and the sensors should be inspected one by one.
17. At what temperature should your water heater be set?
120 degrees Fahrenheit
18. How often do skylights need to be inspected?
Skylights should be inspected each time your roof is inspected so leaks don’t develop from cracks and interruptions around its seals, caulking and flashings.
19. What can you use to help a window slide easily?
Rub the channel with a piece of paraffin.
20. What should you look for when you inspect your siding yearly?
Determine if wood-sided homes need to be repainted; check to see if the caulking around the windows and doors has split and cracked, and replace the caulk; clean the mildew; trim shrubbery away so it does not touch the siding.

(Quiz provided by NAHB.org)

Risk Retention Group (RRG) vs. Property & Casualty (P&C) Insurer

House in builder or realtor hands to keep safe and protected.This comparison has been an issue for many builders considering joining a new home warranty program or switching their current carrier. Residential Warranty Company, LLC (RWC) has backed its warranties with a Risk Retention Group (RRG) since 1990. It is our philosophy that warranties insured with a stable RRG will provide our builders and their homeowners with secure and reliable coverage for the entire warranty term.

This philosophy and game plan has been designed and refined based on experience in dealing with both sides of the issue. For years, RWC backed its warranties with P&C coverage. We discovered, first hand, the downside of this type of arrangement. P&C coverage can be extremely volatile both in terms of rates and continuity.

When using a P&C carrier, a warranty company’s rate structure is vulnerable to rate increases derived from losses in totally unrelated industries. For example, the country has seen more than its fair share of both natural disasters and environmental catastrophes. Consider the losses caused by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Harvey, and Maria. If a P&C company suffers huge losses in even one of these events, the company’s rating may drop and it may be compelled to raise its insurance rates across all its lines of coverage. The end result is that a builder’s warranty rate goes up even though the warranty company’s loss ratio may be extremely low.

With an RRG, only one type of risk is insured - in this case, that means new home warranties and general liability insurance issued by RWC for our member builders exclusively. Consequently, our rates are based solely on our own loss ratio. If we continue to keep control of claims and continue to stringently screen members for quality, RWC will be able to maintain a sound and economically competitive rate structure. Oil tankers running aground and Category 4/5 Hurricanes will have no effect on the cost of a new home warranty or the strength of the insurance company!

RWC also discovered that P&C carriers are quick to drop blocks of business for a variety of reasons: too little premium generated, changes in corporate strategy, etc. If a P&C insurer chooses not to renew its master policy, the warranty company is left scrambling for a replacement. During RWC’s infancy, we found ourselves in this position all too frequently.

RRG’s are not fly-by-night organizations that are easily formed. Not only are they subject to insurance laws in their own domiciliary state, but they must also fulfill certain criteria before offering insurance in any other state. For example, each RRG must submit a copy of its plan of operation to the insurance commissioner of each state in which it intends to do business. It must also submit a copy of its annual financial statement to each state. Formation involves licensing, ownership and membership requirements. Failure to adhere to the strict mandates can subject groups to claims of unauthorized insurance activity.

We feel our members deserve an insurance structure that is committed to our program for the long haul. Additionally, we want backing that is financially strong enough so that our members can be certain it will be there in 5 years, 10 years and beyond. In terms of stability, security, economy and good old common sense, the move to an RRG was the most obvious and intelligent choice for RWC and our members.

Construction workerRWC has spent over 35 years building its reputation on superior customer service, competitive rates, effective dispute resolution and clearly defined warranty coverage. Being “builder oriented” is not a marketing gimmick for us but simply the way we do business every day. We concentrate on warranties and general liability for our members exclusively as our sole lines of business.

Consider the value of RRG-backed warranties and GL insurance. If you value stability of coverage and control over rates for long-term protection, you truly only have one good choice...an RWC home warranty and a GL insurance policy backed with one of the strongest insurance plans in the industry*.

*Western Pacific Mutual Insurance Company, a Risk Retention Group has been rated “A- (Excellent)” by A.M. Best since 2001. The RWC Insurance Advantage is insured by carriers rated at least “A- (Excellent)” by A.M. Best.

man and woman standing on sidewalk looking at house exteriorYou know homebuyers. They always have lots of questions. And not only just for you but they want to know about the products you used in their home. Below are many of the questions we get on a regular basis about the warranty you are providing with the homes you build. We just thought you should know in case any of these questions come up in your own conversations with your customers.  If you need more information, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

What is the value of an RWC warranty to my homebuyers?
- An RWC warranty provides insured, written coverage on various items for a specific period of time.
- Third party assistance to resolve customer service issues is available under all of our programs.
- Homeowners receive a clearly written warranty document spelling out exactly what is and is not covered.
- The resale value of your buyer’s home is increased when our warranty is transferred to the next owner.
- Homeowners have assurance that assistance is available if a covered item is defective.
- Builders wishing to use RWC or an Affiliate’s warranty must demonstrate technical competence, financial stability and ethical business dealings with their customers. Knowing that your builder is a member of one of our programs is assurance that these standards have been met or exceeded.
- The average cost to repair a structural failure exceeds $30,000. Having a warranty in place means that covered structural components will be repaired without causing you or your homeowner serious financial hardship.
- There is a greater likelihood of a major structural defect developing in a home than there is a fire which causes major damage. Homeowners probably have insurance to protect against fire damage. Why not be protected from structural failures as well?

What exactly is covered under my warranty?
RWC and Affiliates have over 75 different warranty options. So the answer to this question depends on which warranty was placed on the home. Coverage varies depending on the program selected by the Builder and the state in which the home is located. Refer to the warranty book received at closing for exact coverage and warranty terms.

How does a homeowner start the claims process?
The specific procedures to address a potential defect in a home are spelled out in the warranty book. The homeowner must send written documentation either by email to RWC at warranty.resolution@rwcwarranty.com or via certified mail, return receipt requested in order to initiate this process. We do not accept telephone or fax requests at this time.

What are mediation and arbitration?
RWC knows that, in the majority of cases, the root of many disputes is the lack of communication between a builder and a homeowner. Sometimes, all it takes to get an issue resolved is someone to take on the role of mediator and assist the others in coming to a fair and reasonable agreement, based on the warranty standards provided. Prior to heading to formal arbitration or costly litigation, RWC does its best to mediate disputes between Members and Homeowners.

Arbitration is a formal process conducted by an independent, neutral arbitrator to resolve disputes between two or more parties. In the case of our warranty programs, RWC uses arbitrators experienced in arbitrating residential construction matters. Unless prohibited by law, the decision of the arbitrator under our programs is binding on all parties, including the homeowner as well as the builder.

Your buyer has questions about the paperwork received regarding their home’s enrollment (duplicate book, incorrect information on Application for Warranty, etc). How do they contact RWC?
For questions regarding the Application for Warranty Form or any other Enrollment Paperwork issue, the homeowner may contact our main office at 717-561-4480 or click here and fill out our information request form.