NW Professional Roof Services, Inc. | The Truth About Roofing Warranties
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The Truth About Roofing Warranties

NOTE: The information contained herein is the opinion of the author. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice.  We recommend that competent legal counsel review all warranties before they are signed.  As part of the bid process (before an agreement is signed), the terms and conditions of warranties should be negotiated and agreed upon.

 

CONTRACTOR’S INSTALLATION WARRANTY

A)     Typically covers installation and material defects for a period of two to five years.

B)      Most contractors’ warranty documents contain only a few sentences of items covered by the warranty and several paragraphs of items and conditions not covered by the warranty.  These exclusions also address conditions, which may negate the warranty.

C)      Contractor’s warranty documents often contain provisions, which require the building owner/manager to perform (or cause to be performed) regular maintenance and timely repair of any roof leaks.  Often the warranty requires that, for the warranty period, the contractor be the only roofing company who performs work on the roof.

D)      Typically the contractor’s installation warranty is included with the contractor’s proposal at no additional charge.

E)      Typically does not cover the cost of consequential damage resulting from roof leaks.

 

 

CONTRACTOR’S 15-YEAR OR 20-YEAR WARRANTY

A)    Marketed to the customer as a replacement for both the contractor’s installation warranty and the manufacturer’s No-Dollar-Limit warranty (to eliminate finger pointing between roofer and manufacturer.)

B)   Typically covers installation and material defects for the warranty period.  Since there is not a manufacturer’s warranty, the roofing contractor does not need to install the roof to meet a manufacturer’s specifications or installation details.  It has been our experience that contractors who offer this type of warranty to replace a manufacturer’s warranty often install roofs that do not meet the minimum standards and details set forth by the National Roofing Contractors Association.  There is no third party oversight to ensure that the roof is properly installed.

D)    Warranty documents contain only a few sentences of items covered by the warranty and several paragraphs of items and conditions not covered by the warranty.  These exclusions also address conditions, which may negate the warranty.

E)   Warranty documents often contain provisions, which require the building owner/manager to perform (or cause to be performed) regular maintenance and timely repair of any roof leaks.  Often the warranty requires that, for the warranty period, the contractor be the only roofing contractor who performs work on the roof.

F)   Typically does not cover the cost of consequential damage resulting from roof leaks.

 

 

MANUFACTURER’S MATERIAL ONLY WARRANTY

A)    Typically covers only defective materials.

B)    Typically the manufacturer’s material only warranty pays out only the cost of the defective material (does not include the cost to remove or replace the defective materials.)

C)    Does not cover the cost of consequential damage resulting from roof leaks.

D)    Typically there is no charge for this warranty.

 

 

MANUFACTURER’S ORIGINAL INSTALLED COST WARRANTY

A)    Typically covers only the labor and material costs that the roofing contractor paid for the original installation of the roof system.

B)     Most manufacturers’ original installed cost warrant documents contain only a few sentences of items covered by the warranty and several paragraphs of items and conditions not covered by the warranty.  These exclusions also address conditions, which may negate the warranty.

C)     Typically the manufacturer’s original installed cost warranty documents contain provisions, which require the building owner/manager to perform (or cause to be performed) regular maintenance and timely repair of any roof leaks.

D)     Often this warranty requires that, only contractors certified by the manufacturer may perform work on the roof.

E)     The charge for the manufacturer’s original installed cost warranty varies.

F)     Does not cover the cost of consequential damage resulting from roof leaks.

 

 

MANUFACTURER’S NO-DOLLAR-LIMIT WARRANTY

(ALSO KNOWN AS AN NDL WARRANTY)

A)   Typically covers the cost to remove and replace defective installation and/or defective materials.

B)     Most manufacturers’ NDL warranty documents contain only a few sentences of items covered by the warranty and several paragraphs of items and conditions not covered by the warranty.  These exclusions also address conditions, which may negate the warranty.

C)     Manufacturer’s NDL warranty documents contain provisions, which require the building owner/manager to perform (or cause to be performed) regular maintenance and timely repair of any roof leaks.

D)     Often this warranty requires that only contractors certified by the manufacturer may perform work on the roof.

E)     The charge for the manufacturer’s NDL warranty typically costs between $8.00 to $13.00 per square (one square equals 100 square feet) and is usually listed on a contractor’s proposal as an optional cost.

F)     Typically does not cover the cost of consequential damage resulting from roof leaks.

 

 

COMMENTARY

A)     Typically warranties do not cover damage caused to the roof system, such as:

  • Damage from a failing roof structure.
  • Damage to the roof caused by ‘gale force winds’ (Webster defines ‘gale force winds’ as sustained wind speed of 32 to 63 miles per hour, (every winter, the Pacific Northwest experiences winds that are in excess of 32 miles per hour.)

B)     Typically warranties do not cover consequential damages such as:

  • Damage to interior finishes (ceilings, carpets, walls, etc.)
  • Damage to equipment (computers, copiers, machinery, etc.)
  • Loss of building usage
  • Damage to the structural roof deck from roof leaks (examples: a rusted metal roof deck of a structural failure of a wood roof structure due to dry rot.)
  • An improperly designed roof system (which may lead to catastrophic failure of the roof system or structural failure:
    • Even if the contractor was the designer of the roof system, typically the warranty will not cover their design deficiencies.
    • Even if the material manufacturer’s printed specifications and details were followed, each building is different and the manufacturer will cite language in their specifications, which state that a design professional should review the specifications to determine if they are appropriate for a given building.  For this reason, a manufacturer’s warranty typically does not cover roof system or structural failures.
    • This is of great concern when considering the toal weight of a roof system as compared with the design load of the roof structure and when considering the degree of wind up-lift that each system is designed to handle

C)     Typical there are many conditions which may void some warranties, such as:

  • Ponding water (the National Roofing Contractor defines ‘ponding water’ as water which remains on the roof after 24-hours from the end of rainfall,
  • If regular maintenance is not performed on the roof and if any roof leaks are not repaired in a timely manor, some warranties may be voided.  Even if a contractor does not perform the roof leak repair in a timely manor, they may reject warranty claims do to damage to the roof and structure that is caused by continuous leakage.  Some warranties are very specific about what maintenance work must be performed, other warranties are more vague on the subject.

D)     In the end, the legalese of a warranty and the length of the warranty are far less important than the reputation of the company servicing the warranty.  Performing a careful study of most roofing warranties (with all of its inclusions, exclusions, requirements, provisions, remedies, etc.) would seem to indicate that most warranties are written to limit the liability of the warranty issuer and to limit possible remedies for the customer.  By the letter of the document, warranty issuers can reject many warranty claims; therefore, it is important to consider the reputation of the company offering the warranty.

If the letter of the document would allow a warranty issuer to reject many warranty claims, the best insurance a customer may have is the good reputation of a warranty issuer.

E)     Current legislation permits remedies for products or installation practices that have latent deficiencies.  Many warranty provisions limit a customers possible remedies for deficiencies in materials or installation.

F)     There is no warranty that will prevent water from entering a building, and since warranties typically do not cover the kinds of consequential damage that may result from a catastrophic roof failure, the only way to ensure a good project is to carefully select the project team.  To ensure the most appropriate roof system installation, a competent design professional should be retained to formulate the roof specifications and details, as well as to perform quality assurance monitoring inspections; a reputable manufacturer should be chosen and three to four reputable and responsive roofing contractors should be invited to bid on the project.  Choosing a good team is the ONLY assurance of receiving a quality roofing project.