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  • Writer's pictureM K

Roofing Warranties Explained

In the roofing industry the term WARRANTY is used loosely and interchangeably to mean various different types of coverage. Because of this vagueness there arise many situations

where building owners thought they were covered for certain situations when really they were not. To help you avoid this we are going to break down and explain the various types of warranties and what they cover.

Firstly roofing warranties divide into two main categories.


A contractor warranty is any warranty that is offered/backed up by a roofing contractor/roofer/roofing company. This means the warranty is offered by the company that actually installs your new roof. The point of these are to help the roofing company sell new roofs. This way the roofer can project confidence by saying we are so confident that our roof will last that we are going to warranty it for x amount of time. It also helps a seller break through a buyers caution that maybe the new roof will leak and he will have wasted his money on a bad instillation.

Because contractor warranties are issued by the roofer every roofing company will have its own version of a warranty. Some will cover all failures while others will only cover specific failures. Usually contractor warranty covers the labor of the installers. So if the roof leaks due to an instillation error the contract should be responsible.

Because there are so many different roofing companies out there it is really important to ask for a copy of the warranty before you hire a company. This way you can read the warranty and see what is covered. Some roofers will not be able to provide a written warranty and will claim that they have a system to remember all the roofs that they installed and if your roof leaks within a certain amount of time just call them and they will come and fix it. I would steer clear of companies like this because it offers you no proof, and if a company can't even spend the time to write a warranty what makes you think they will spend the time to come and fix a mistake.

Contractor warranties are only as good as the companies that issue them. For example if a company goes out of business it is no longer responsible for warranties it has issued.

Also when being sold a contractor warranty it is very important that you really trust the company issuing it. Unscrupulous companies have a bunch of tactics that they use to avoid honoring warranties

1. They will simply ignore your calls and emails.

2. They will keep promising to return but will never come

3. They will change their phone number or company name.

5. They will say the company is no longer in business.

6. They will make up some reason why the leak is not their fault

7. They will clim the leak is not covered under the warranty for some reason

8. there are tons of other ways that companies avoid the responsibility of honoring their warranties

If a contractor refuses to honor his warranty there is not much you can do about it unless you are willing to spend the time and money in court and even then there is no guarranteee you will win, or that if you win he will fix your roof.

Thats why the best warranty is to do business with a roofer who you feel comfortable with and who has lots of referrals. In the end of the day it is better to have a roof installed by a honest person who will come back and admit a mistake and fix it. Than with someone you don't trust but is promising a great warranty.

The second category is


This type of warranty is backed by the manufacturer of the roofing material that is installed on your roof. Basically the manufacturer of the roofing material says that if their materials are installed according to the instructions they guarantee the roof will last for x amount of time. the purpose of this is to help roofing manufacturers sell more of their materials.

There are several different types of manufacturer warranties so its important that you clarify which type you will be receiving.

  1. A material warranty = A material warranty is the lowest level of warranty. The only thing guaranteed in such a warranty is that your roofing material will be free from manufacturing defects. This means that if your roofer installed a roof and your roof fails because the material is defective, examples, the shingles were sold with holes in them, or the adhesives degraded prematurely, then the manufacturer of these materials will be responsible. However the only thing the manufacturer will cover is the defective material, not the instillation. This means that if your house leaks because a few shingles were defective all you will be given is a few shingles, the labor cost to install those shingles will be on you. As you can see this type of warranty is practically risk free for the manufacturer because it is so rare for the manufacturer to make defective material, and even rarer for someone to prove it, and even if you prove it the cost for the manufacturer to replace a few shingles is basically nothing. Because of this manufacturing companies are quick to offer large material warranties, 20 years and up. But in essence these warranties are worthless.

  2. A material and labor warranty = This is the best type of warranty that the manufacturers of roofing material offer. Basically this means that in the case of roof failure, either from defective material or more likely from a workmanship error, the manufacturer will cover both the cost of the material and the cost of labor to install the material. The manufacturing companies don't want roofers to take advantage of them by selling roofs with manufacturers warranties then cutting corners on the roof instillation and screwing the manufacturers with the responsibility of honoring the warranty. To prevent this the manufacturing companies only allow certified companies to offer this type of warranty. In order to get certified roofing companies go through training or background checks to make sure that they are installing the materials according to the manufacturers specifications. In addition inspectors are sent out to all roofs that have been sold warranties to check before and after the job to ensure the roofs were installed properly. The warranties are only issued if the inspectors are satisfied. Now it is important to read a sample of the warranty before hiring a roofer because every company has different wording and even in the category of manufacturers warranties there are many different types. For example some warranties will hold the roofer responsible for the first 2 years and only after those 2 years does the manufacturer become responsible. Also some warranties will only cover up to a certain amout, NDL which stands for no dollar limit is another thing you should look for in a warranty. The exclusion section is one of the most important sections for you to read because it tells you all the situations in which the manufacturer is excluded from liability. In many warranties the exclusions are so vast and broad that it makes the warranty worthless. Much of the value in paying for a manufacturers warranty is not in the warranty itself but is in the confidence you get knowing that this roofer has been certified (possibly been trained by the manufacturere) and that an inspector will insure the roof is installed according to specifications.

At the end of the day the most important assurance that you can get is to work with an honest and reputable company, someone who has lots of reviews and referrals. This way you can trust that in the case of a failure they will do the right thing. Here at the Roofing Team we offer manufacturers warranties as well as contractor warranties. But better than that we offer the guarantee that we are an honest company with lots of referrals.

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