A new survey of Canadian homeowners has found that, while many have experienced a home repair emergency over the past year, a significant number of them have little to no money set aside to cover such a repair, raising serious concerns about the detrimental impact such a repair could have on homeowners’ financial wellbeing. In addition to finding financial unpreparedness, the survey also uncovered that the majority of homeowners are unaware that they would be responsible for one of the more common home repair emergencies – failing water or sewer lines on their property.
This first ever “State of the Canadian Home Survey” was conducted by Leger Opinion, on behalf of Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC). The survey sample included 1,529 Canadian adults, of which 902 were homeowners.
The Nuisance and Financial Toll of Home Repairs
The survey revealed that a significant number of Canadian homeowners are financially unprepared for a home emergency. Nearly one in five (19%) homeowners have no money at all set aside for an emergency home repair while almost one-third (31%) have only $500 or less.
This unpreparedness is especially concerning since the survey also found that over one-third of Canadian homeowners (37%) had a home repair emergency in the past 12 months. Common home repairs included blocked and/or overflowing toilets (8%), leaking water pipes (8%) and leaking or blocked exterior water and sewer lines (7%).
But the homeownership repair challenges don’t end there. One-third of homeowners (33%) report having trouble even finding a contractor to complete a repair, and half of homeowners (50%) report having a problem with a contractor they hired to complete work in their homes. The most common problem is that the job ends up costing more than initially estimated (11%) followed by concerns about whether a contractor is trustworthy (8%).
“Over the past year and a half, Canadians have spent more time at home than ever, which can take a major toll on our home’s infrastructure and major systems,” said Mike Van Horne, General Manager, Service Line Warranties of Canada. “The survey finding that about one-third of Canadian homeowners can expect to have a home repair emergency in a given year, coupled with far too many homeowners having limited savings for a home emergency – or no saving at all – is a real recipe for disaster.”
“SLWC’s no-deductible service plans, available through participating municipalities, protect homeowners from the financial burden and inconvenience that comes with home emergencies. SLWC uses only local, qualified contractors and does all the work to schedule a technician to complete a repair quickly and professionally with no out-of-pocket expense,” added Van Horne.
Understanding Responsibility for Home Repairs
The survey also found that two thirds (66%) of Canadian homeowners are unaware that they are financially responsible for any needed repairs or replacement to the water and sewer lines that connect their home to municipal systems. Nearly one in five homeowners (18%) inaccurately believe that these repairs are covered by homeowners’ insurance and 20% incorrectly think the municipality would be responsible for the repair. These types of repairs are rarely covered under standard homeowners’ insurance, and when the lines do fail, the repair costs fall on the homeowner.
Given that so many homeowners are unaware of their responsibility, it is not surprising that, when asked, the vast majority (88%) of homeowners believe the municipality should help educate homeowners about their responsibilities related to water or sewer line breaks on their property.
“We frequently hear from municipalities that residents are upset when they find out they are financially responsible – not the municipality or homeowners’ insurance – when the water or sewer lines on their property fails,” said Van Horne. “That is one of the many benefits of partnering with SLWC as we work with the municipality to educate homeowners about what repairs they’re responsible for. And SLWC service plans provide a smart financial planning tool that reduces the financial and emotional stress when an inevitable home emergency occurs.”
SLWC now services 40,000 customers across Ontario through its municipal programs, and the SLWC contractor network has grown to include 38 local businesses that employ over 150 technicians. Homeowners in a participating municipal program have access to repair plans that cover needed repairs to exterior water and sewer service lines that connect their homes to municipal systems, as well as for in-home plumbing systems. Ontario homeowners have saved over $6 million in repair expenses as a result of the SLWC program available through their municipality.
Finding Ways to Reduce Cost of Homeownership
The survey also found that three out of five Canadian homeowners (62%) are taking steps to reduce the cost of homeownership. Many homeowners say they are trying to lower their utility bills (41%) and are installing energy saving features around their homes (21%). Additionally, many homeowners (19%) say they are putting off home upgrades. A SLWC service plan provides a smart way for homeowners – who face record-high home prices and high mortgages as a result – to protect themselves from additional out-of-pocket homeownership costs related to repairs.
Since 2014, over 65 Canadian municipalities have launched partnerships with SLWC to give their residents access to affordable service repair plans for common plumbing emergencies. SLWC is the trusted source of utility line protection programs in Ontario as recognized by the Local Authority Services, part of the Association of Municipalities on Ontario (AMO).
Homeowners with questions or who wish to receive more information about SLWC or available plans should call tool-free 1-866-922-9004 or visit www.slwof.ca. Local municipalities interested in learning more about the program for their community can visit www.servicelinewarranties.ca.