Things You Need to Know About Roofing Warranties
Your roof is a huge investment with an even bigger job: protecting your home and everything you love in it. When things go wrong, homeowners encounter countless headaches and potentially thousands of dollars in expenses. Roof problems are often serious and repairs are rarely easy fixes.
But who can we blame when a roof fails—the shingles, the contractor or ourselves? This all-too-common conundrum is exactly why roofing contractors and manufacturers offer warranties—to keep the lines of responsibility clear when Murphy’s Law rears its ugly head.
Roofing warranties exist to manage expectations and establish—in writing —all the details about the installation to serve the best interests of both homeowner and contractor. Warranties promise the three key elements of a healthy roof: quality products, excellent workmanship and the strength to pass the test of time.
The two main types of roofing warranties
There are two main types of warranties to protect your roof, home and family: the contractor’s warranty and the manufacturer’s warranty. The first covers the installation and the latter covers the product. Together, the two give the homeowner, contractor and manufacturer peace of mind.
Manufacturer’s warranties are “set in stone,” meaning no homeowner or contractor can change them. By the same token, no manufacturer can change a contractor’s workmanship warranty. Both warranties have a place in your next roof installation, replacement or repair. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
The contractor’s workmanship (installation) warranty
Any reputable roofing contractor knows the workmanship warranty is the more important of the two. It covers installation errors and defects in workmanship but excludes problems caused by weather or materials.
Contractor’s warranties vary from situation to situation—no two warranties are the same because every product and installation scenario is unique.
A roofing specialist may cover workmanship for a year or more. However, longer roofing warranties are not synonymous with better warranties. More important than length is the intent of the warranty and the roofer’s ability to stand behind it. Hiring a certified contractor is your best protection against a world of potential problems.
The manufacturer’s (product) warranty
Nearly all manufacturers offer a warranty covering the product—from shingles to underlayment to vents—against defects in the materials. Exact coverage varies, based on the type and brand of the product.
For example, basic strip shingles offer weaker and shorter warranties than higher-quality laminated dimensional shingles. However, the added cost for a higher-quality shingle backed by a stronger warranty easily pays for itself in the long run.
Most manufacturers cover materials only for 30 years with a pro-rated warranty, meaning the value of the shingle or product exponentially decreases over time. For problems at year 15, for example, a homeowner might recover only 60% of the total cost of the material (as long as the manufacturer agrees a material defect caused the problem) and nothing for the installation and labor.
A 30-year shingle — with a “limited lifetime warranty” — usually offers coverage limited to the current homeowner and excludes damage caused by extreme weather, shoddy workmanship or inadequate insulation or ventilation. The same manufacturer may also offer a 50-year “deluxe” shingle made with greater thickness, strength, durability and even extra designer options like custom color and style.
Some warranties offer complete coverage against all manufacturer defects while others cover only defects that cause leaks or impact performance.
Manufacturers also know proper installation prevents a world of problems, and thus certify select contractors. A certified contractor generally offers longer and more inclusive warranties for products made by the manufacturer.
What is a transferable warranty?
A transferable warranty allows you to do exactly that—transfer the warranty to the next owner when you sell the house. Most are “one-time transfers” that exclude the new homeowner from transferring the warranty to the next owner. Homeowners should notify the warranty company about any change in ownership as soon as possible to stay within the transfer window.
What are the exceptions?
Roofing warranties have exceptions depending on where you live and who installed the roof. For a homeowner who lives in tornado country, for example, the manufacturer may only warranty a certain type of shingle and a specific installation method. Always discuss the details of warranty exceptions with the contractor before the installation begins.
Getting the most from your roofing warranty means following the rules, reading the fine print, asking your contractor the right questions and doing your homework. The end result is a dependable warranty built to protect your home and family for a lifetime.
The industry’s best warranty
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