Warranty Considerations

Twenty-, thirty-, and even fifty-year warranties – the range of commercial roofing warranties available has increased significantly over the past few years. Does that mean a longer coverage period is automatically better?

Of course, you want a warranty that covers a reasonable period of time. Roofing systems are expensive. If the roof should fail, you should know whether the manufacturer will stand behind it.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a longer warranty is the one to choose. You need to evaluate the conditions the warranty covers and the steps you’re required to take to ensure that it remains in force. Some longer manufacturers’ warranties sound good, but as they say, the devil is in the details.

As a starting point, you’ll want to know whether the roofing installation must pass an inspection, often conducted by the manufacturer or an independent third part, before the manufacturer will issue the warranty. There is nothing wrong with having a newly installed roof inspected. However, you should know before the installation process begins if this is required in order to activate the warranty.

Some manufacturers require the building owner to conduct regular roofing inspections, and then to submit reports showing that the roof has passed the inspections. Virtually all manufacturers require roofing inspections and extra payments for warranty protection beyond the standard coverage period.

Other warranties require an initial payment from the building owner. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it helps to know this before you decide to use that manufacturer’s product.

Many warranties limit the amount to be paid if the roof fails. For instance, they may cover the replacement materials needed, but not the labor required to install the new roofing system. Contrary to conventional wisdom, many warranties do not cover the damage a building’s contents might sustain due to a roof failure.

In addition, damage caused by “acts of God,” such as hail storms or hurricanes, may not be covered under the warranty.

Building owners should also know whether they can transfer ownership of the roofing warranty if they sell their building.

Before purchasing a roofing system, building owners should be sure that the warranty offers a reasonable amount of coverage for a reasonable period of time. When the choice is between a highly restrictive longer warranty, and a shorter one that offers better coverage, the shorter warranty probably will be a better value.