After their new roofs are installed, customers enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a roof warranty. For contractors who install the roofs, warranties are vital to long-term customer satisfaction.
At the same time, if the customers and contractors misinterpret the terms, warranties can lead to confusion. Warranties are contractual obligations from one party to another that specify certain conditions (such as the lifecycle of a product) will be met.
In general, all warranties fall into one of three categories: express (conditions written directly into a warranty), implied (conditions required by law) and statutory (conditions required by local or state statute).
The standard roofing warranties — manufacturer’s and installation — have provisions and options that protect contractors and help customers. Together, the two warranties can provide comprehensive coverage. Let’s look at the differences:
Manufacturer’s (product) warranty
The most standard manufacturer’s warranties cover the roofing product for a pre-determined amount of time. Roofing-material warranties cover only material (asphalt shingles or metal) defects and vary in time and transferability.
For traditional asphalt shingle roofs, the average warranty covers the primary material from 10 years to 30 years. The average metal roof warranty covers the substrate and coating for 25 to 40 years. Roofs aren’t maintenance-free, so some warranties stipulate documented, periodic maintenance.
Long-term warranties also cover claims on a prorated basis, in which the warrantable value diminishes in the years following the warranty issuance, or non-prorated, in which the original warrantable value remains the same.
Manufacturer’s warranties cover materials if they fail but do not necessarily guarantee the installation of the new materials. In most cases, manufacturer’s warranties do not cover ponding or standing water damage, acts of God (high winds, hail, tornado damage), interior damages caused by leaks, improper installation or repairs and installation by an unauthorized roofer.
Installation, or roofer’s workmanship, warranties are usually much shorter than manufacturer’s warranties. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the leading trade group for roofing professionals, said the average workmanship warranty provides coverage for two years post-installation. Some states, including California, require contractors to provide a one-year warranty, but some contractors have been extending workmanship warranties for as long as a decade.
Workmanship warranties only cover problems that arise as a result of poor installation and are usually not transferrable.
While some manufacturers offer limited workmanship warranties, they are only applicable when a certified contractor is used. More often, contractors put together their warranties. Because installation errors are more common than manufacturing defects, contractors should include warranty stipulations that limit their liabilities, including damages or problems including:
- Improper long-term maintenance on the roof after installation
- Alterations or damages by a third party (such as another contractor) to the roof after installation
- Improper use of the materials other than the original intent
- Normal wear and tear
In some cases, contractors include customer provisions that must be followed before a workmanship warranty can be activated, including:
- Proof of required periodic maintenance
- Payment of service fees for replacement materials
- Notification in writing of the problem
- Contractor’s sole discretion between repairing or replacing damages
In addition, some contractors also include a callback provision in warranties to establish a timeframe for repair work. For example, some installation warranties include requirements that contractors must respond within 24 hours to a roofing emergency.
For contractors seeking to provide the best warranties, the NRCA recommends contractors carefully review the quality of the products being installed. Some manufacturers, like Gulf Coast Supply & Manufacturing, provide multiple warranties to cover various aspects of their products. Gulf Coast offers two warranties for most of its panel systems: one that addresses failure due to metal corrosion and the other that covers the paint system (if applicable) against chipping, peeling, cracking, chalking and fading.
Consumers look favorably on roofing contractors who stand behind their work.