Roofing Warranties: Always Read the Fine Print

June 11, 2013

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Consumers in the market for a roof replacement are often concerned with the warranty type and length that accompanies their new roof. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) advises consumers against putting too much emphasize on the warranty that roofing companies offer.

Roofing warranties, especially long-term ones are largely reactive rather than proactive. Keeping this in mind, the length of a warranty should not be the primary principle in the selection of a roofing system. Warranties do not necessarily provide assurance of adequate roofing performance.

You should also take caution when working with a roof company who uses long-term warranties as a marketing tool. Many roofing companies have found themselves deep within a highly competitive market where they are obligated to meet or surpass warranties of other roofing contractors. In some cases there are roofing specialists who established a warranty length with little or no technical research or documentation of their roof systems performance over time.

Another problem with warranties is the common misconception that long-term warranties are all-inclusive insurance policies covering virtually any roofing repairs. Typically warranties do not guarantee that the roof coating will not leak. Even a comprehensive roofing company warranty that covers material and workmanship generally provide only that the company will repair roof leaks that are a result of specific causes detailed in the warranty. A material-only warranty typically provides only that the manufacturer will provide replacement material-not install it. Many warranties contain restrictive provisions, which extensively limit the warrantor’s liability and the consumer’s remedies in the event that problems develop. Be sure to read the fine print for other restrictions and limitations such as a prohibition against transfer of the warranty, exclusions of damages resulting from a defective roof and monetary limitations.

To get the best for your roof in the long run, focus your efforts instead on looking for a roofing contractor who focuses their efforts on relevant and proven merits of the roofing systems best designed to fit the needs of your building, your budget, and your roof. They should have a warranty that is honest and realistic to the life span of the system and honors their warranty for the duration of the warranty term. Be sure you have a clear and conspicuously written document that states all of the recommended and required owner maintenance responsibilities as well.

Your choice should be based upon the product’s qualities and suitability for the particular roof restoration/replacement project in mind. A long-term warranty is of little value if the roof does not perform satisfactorily and you are left with a leaking roof.