STOP BUYING ROOF WARRANTIES!The length of a roof warranty is not an indication of its coverage or value. Hiring the right contractor and caring for your roof is the best protection money can buy.
A manufacturers warranty is rarely worth the paper it is printed on. These guarantees are written by attorneys to protect the issuing manufacturers interests and to minimize their costs during the coverage period.
This is not to say manufacturer warranties arent important they are a signal of confidence the proposed specification is an appropriate and proven waterproofing method.
Before signing a contract to have your roof constructed, replaced, or restored request the manufacturer of the roofing materials have a representative walk the job and verify for you the stated warranty will in fact be issued if that contractor performs the proposed scope of work.
Minimize Your Need For A Roof Warranty
Your best protection is to hire a licensed, bonded, insured, experienced, reputable roofing contractor that employs salaried estimators to specify and install quality roofing materials in which the contractor is approved to install and issue a warranty for (and where the scope of work meets manufacturer warranty requirements), and then invest in proper annual preventive roof cleaning and general maintenance beginning the first year after the roof is installed to minimize opportunities for roof leaks and maximize the useful life of your roof.
Manufacturer Warranty Duration Is Not An Indication of Value
We strongly encourage you to not allow warranty durations to be a significant factor in deciding what solution or which contractor to select when it comes to your roof. Just because one warranty provides the same (or more) years of coverage than another does not necessarily mean you are getting the same or even a better solution.
- For example, a three-coat (4.5 total gallons per 100 square feet) roof restoration coating system over an existing roof can qualify for twelve or more years of manufacturer labor and material warranty. In comparison, a four-ply asphalt built-up roof replacement system typically qualifies for ten years of essentially the same coverage. Even though its warranty duration is shorter, the built-up roof (although more expensive) is a far superior option with double or more the expected useful life.
What Does A Manufacturer Warranty Cover?
If the roofing materials prematurely deteriorate (not related to causes such as damage, neglect, alterations, ponding water, poor maintenance, and many more), and both the installing contractor and the manufacturer have been paid in full, and you have hired an approved contractor to perform proper preventive roof maintenance every year since installation, the manufacturer may then be responsible to have only the immediate leaking area restored to a watertight condition. In many cases this coverage applies to the original owner only (some warranties are transferable one time, for a fee). If the roof is not leaking, per most manufacturer warranties no action may be required.
- One national roof coating manufacturer charges an additional pre-installation inspection fee of $550, a post-installation inspection fee of $1,500, and annual inspection fees of $550 each year for the duration of the warranty period above and beyond the required preventive cleaning and maintenance, regardless of the size of your roof. For a 10 year warranty this totals $7,000 in inspection fees, which are invoiced 90 days prior. If just one year is missed (or late), or if the fee is not paid in full within 30 days, the warranty automatically becomes null and void.
A Warranty Is Not An Insurance Policy
There are no guarantees that problems will not occur, that you are covered if problems do occur, or that problems will be remediated at no cost to you. No incidental or consequential damages to the building structure, insulation, roof deck, loss of profits or time, etc. are recoverable even if the corrective actions provided fail their intended purpose. Warranties are also generally governed in the county in which the company is headquartered (they have exclusive jurisdiction), so if any legal action against the issuing manufacturer is taken you likely will need to work through their local courts.
- One prominent material manufacturer only pays out in total for a complete system replacement the lesser of either the original contract amount (which does not account for any increases in labor or material costs as each year passes) or $250,000.
The Manufacturer Warranty Claim Process
Claims must be submitted to the manufacturer in writing (some also require proof of purchase) within thirty days of a leak occurring. The manufacturer then has ninety days (up to four months after the original leak) to inspect the claim. If you cancel the request or if the problem is found not to be covered by the warranty, any processing or inspection fees are non-refundable. If warranty coverage does apply, the manufacturer will provide the materials needed to repair the leak and, for warranties that include labor, a reasonable amount to cover installation of the repair materials.
- One well-known manufacturer issues roof leak repair orders to contractors for an amount not-to-exceed the total of their claim processing fee. In essence, this company requires customers to pay out-of-pocket for repairs that are covered by the manufacturers warranty.
How Is A Workmanship Warranty Different From A Material Warranty?
Workmanship warranties are issued by the installing contractor, typically two to five years in duration to cover the installation (workmanship, or labor) of the newly installed, replaced, recovered, or restored roof system. Reputable contractors like Starkweather Roofing will make the required repairs when the problem is indeed covered by the workmanship warranty at no cost (material or labor) to the customer. If there is an issue that is covered by the manufacturer warranty (material defect), we will assist you in working with the manufacturer to resolve the situation. If the cause is not covered by either warranty (such as storm damage, unauthorized tenant penetrations, or neglect of the roof), we will provide you with our recommended scope of work and price to correct it.
- WARNING: Some roofing contractors offer ten, fifteen, or even twenty years of workmanship warranty coverage in lieu of a manufacturer material defect warranty. This is often because the contractor is not an approved installer of that manufacturers materials; the contractor is new to the area, has not been in business long, or does not have a proven track record; and/or the proposed scope of work does not meet the manufacturer warranty specifications. If any warranty longer than five years is not guaranteed by a manufacturer ask why and get the specific reason(s). Regardless of a contractors confidence in their installation quality or experience, workmanship warranties are only enforceable up to two years and you have no legal recourse if the materials fail or if the contractor becomes defunct or bankrupt.
Why Perform Preventive Roof Cleaning And General Maintenance?
All roof warranties require proper and regular roof maintenance to ensure proper drainage, minimize opportunities for leaks to occur in the first place, maximize the useful life of the roof, and prolong the need for restoration and eventual replacement. This service is typically performed annually. It is not a guarantee the roof will not leak, but it does cover naturally occurring roof leaks which ensures the contractor is financially incented to do their best to prevent your roof from leaking.
- If you have not yet started an annual preventive cleaning and maintenance program on your roofs, Starkweather Roofing would like the opportunity to evaluate them and provide you with our recommendations and pricing to begin this service at no charge. To request an assessment, please call our office at (888) 997-0529 or email Estimating@StarkweatherRoof.com.