The Ugly Truth About Roof Warranties
When discussing roof warranties, it is very important that you keep a few things in mind from the very start. Roof warranties are most often written by lawyers who are not thinking of your best interest. The word 'warranty" is used as a marketing buzz word and any warranty, no matter how well written is only as good as the company who issued it. So before we even get into this, I want you to stay more focused on roof design, the materials to be used, and most importantly what quality assurance and control methods will be in place to assure the roof is installed correctly.
Of course like anything else, a roof warranty does have its place. And there have been times my work when a warranty was helpful. I certainly don't mean to knock warranties, but I do mean to push their importance back a little. Bottom line is that short of a materials defect, a properly installed and maintained roof system is the best way to prevent future problems.
The Contractor's labor warranty
First, let's talk about the contractor's labor warranty. The contractor is really saying that they are promising that the work was installed correctly and any problem due to an error in the installation is on them to fix. They will usually ask that you report the problem within a certain amount of days, and list a number of things they are not covering. Such as a tree falling through the roof. Give them the chance to see it, document it and choose their method of repair. Since this is not a moneymaker, you might expect they won't be offering the top of the line repair. Although, remember the warranty is only as good as the contractor who issued it.
The sad truth, and somewhat if a misconception is that the state of Arizona only holds a roofer accountable for their work for two years. Interestingly enough, most manufacturers extended labor and materials warranties also hold the installing contractor accountable to for two years (more on this soon). For that reason, many contractors will toss out any number knowing that in two years the state lets them off the hook anyway. Now, that is not exactly true and a good construction defect attorney can help if you need legal help. If you are pressed into a corner and feel the need to file a ROC complaint you should read our article on the ROC complaint process.
The Manufacturer's warranty
The next warranty you will be faced with is the manufacturer's warranty. Well two kinds rather, depending on the skill of the salesman who came to your home. The first one is the manufacturer's materials warranty. This is usually exceptionally long and boring to read, warranty covers, materials due to a defect in the materials themselves. Let me be more clear about that one, it covers only defects to the materials during the manufacturing process. Not during delivery, not during storage, not during installation ONLY if the material somehow made it out of the factory already defective. It does happen, but not very often.
If you have a leak in a new roof, chances are very good it is installers error. Although, there have been times when the manufacturer screwed up and defective materials got out. If that is the case, after a pain in the butt investigation. You will likely end up with some amount of materials dropped in your driveway, they will not remove the existing materials or install the new ones in most cases.
The extended warranty
The next manufacturer warranty you might face is the manufacturer's extended warranty. Also called a no dollar limit warranty, leak repair warranty or sometimes a labor and materials warranty. Depending on the marketing department of the manufacturer. I actually do like these for a few reasons, not the reasons you might expect though, which I will discuss very soon. In short, the manufacturer still wants the installing contractor to hold the labor warranty for the first two years, or whatever term it is. Then after that, the manufacturer will assume responsibility for the labor and materials warranty coverage. Remember warranties are written by lawyers and they don't have you in mind, so don't get too excited, However, there are a few benefits that I believe make it worth the extra money to buy the extended warranty.
Contractors must be certified
Most manufacturers will require the installing contractor to be certified by them, most of the time this means they have completed an application. Demonstrated their financial stability, ability to perform the work and so on. It also usually requires some kind of testing or demonstration that the contractor knows who to install the materials in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. This does not mean that the boots on the roof are trained, mistakes can and do happen. I do mean, however, that chances are better than this contractor will be responsive. Since the manufacturer will assume responsibility for the warranty, they are more involved in the project's specifications and will usually conduct a final inspection. This helps, you, and us (the consultants) since we have the manufacturing basically watching our back for us. Be aware though, this is not a substitution for a good quality assurance observer and or roof consultant, the manufacturer is only involved at the start and the end of the project. You still need someone during the actual installation to watch out for you.
- Warranties are written by lawyers and used as a marketing buzz word.
- Warranties are only as good as the company who issued it
- Arizona only holds a contractor accountable for two years
- Manufacturers materials warranties only cover defects in the material during the manufacturing process
- Manufactures extended warranties provide an additional layer of accountability during installation
- At the end of the day, nothing can replace good design, using the correct system for the job and quality assurance and control systems.
One final thought, EVERY roof warranty is voided if you don't perform regular Maintainance.
Thank you for reading this article, we hope it has been helpful.
Roof Consultant and Roof Industry Advocate