What you need to know
Warranties should be an important part of your decision-making process when choosing a roofing material and a contractor for replacing your roof. A good warranty can provide insurance against manufactures’ defects and workmanship errors.
Warranties should be in writing and reviewable prior to signing a contract. Also note, a warranty is not a replacement for comprehensive insurance coverage. Most warranties will require you attempt to file an insurance claim for any damages to your home and personal property prior to making a warranty claim.
A roof warranty is typically made up of two parts. The first, a manufacturer’s warranty, from the manufacturer of the roofing product(s). The second part is a workmanship or installation warranty provided by the contractor roofing your home. Think twice before using a contractor that does not provide a workmanship warranty.
A manufacturer warranty warrants you, the homeowner, against defects in the material placed on your roof. Warranties vary in time, transfer-ability and cost recovery and it is important to understand what it covers and what it does not.
Be sure to understand what your warranty covers and for how long. Some manufacturers warranties do not cover labor or only cover a portion of the labor based on the age of the roof. Additionally, many manufacturers provide full material replacement only for a specified period. In most cases, costs are pro-rated and the formulas for calculating the pro-rations are specified in the warranty.
The coverage time of a warranty varies by company and product. If a manufacturer offers a “Lifetime” warranty, read the fine print as the warranty will likely have limits as to what constitutes a lifetime. Lifetime does not typically mean your life or the life of your home but refers to the “life” of the product such as a 30-year shingle or 50-year tile roof. Read the warranty and ask questions with your roofing contractor sales representative or manufacturing representative.
Some warranties may include a provision to transfer the warranty to a new homeowner. Here again, read the warranty. Many have time limits like CeDUR’s which allows the warranty to transfer within 5 years of the installation. There may also be a limit on the number of transfers.
Each manufacturer may have different limitations on its particular warranty. Improper installation may limit or void the manufacturer’s warranty. Workman walking on the roof to maintain HVAC or install a satellite dish may also have an impact on the warranty. Acts of God like winds in excess of 90 mph, hail and or fire can limit or void the warranty. Be sure to read the warranty carefully so that you understand what you are getting.
Workmanship or Installation Warranty
A workmanship or installation warranty insures protection for the homeowner against errors made during the installation of a roof. Many manufactures have specific procedures to install their product and improper installation can void the warranty.
The length of warranty will vary depending on the roofing contractor that you choose. Some contractors offer a workmanship warranty in addition to the manufacturers warranty. Many installation defects will materialize in the first year, but some can take up to six years to show up. Keep in mind, the warranty is only as good as the contractor who offers it. A 10-year warranty is not valuable if the contractor shuts down or disappears a year after your new roof was installed.
A good contractor will help you understand both the manufacture and installation warranties, however you should always educate yourself so you can make the best long term decision. Always read through a sample of each type of warranty before making your decision on a roofing product and roofing contractor. Be cautious if the warranty seems to good to be true or is incomprehensible legalese. This may indicate that the company does not intend to be around to honor the warranty. The second may indicate that if something happens, the company will point to the fine print to get out of honoring the warranty.
Once your roof has been replaced, get the warranties in writing prior to making any final payments. Then, if needed, register your warranty with the manufacturer.
A quality product put on by a reputable, diligent contractor will result in a roof that will last for decades to come. Understanding your warranty will give you an additional peace of mind.