What’s Covered and What Isn’t: Know Your Warranties

Mid-South Roof Systems worker carrying bucket, commercial roof warranties
Mid-South Roof Systems worker carrying bucket, commercial roof warranties

Warranties are similar to insurance policies, and, like all insurance policies, it’s a complicated topic with a ton of fine print.

There are three different parties that issue warranties in most commercial roofing situations:

  • The general contractor
  • The roofer
  • The roofing manufacturer

A Typical Set of Warranties

Let’s look at a theoretical example of a new construction project in which a large developer builds a commercial building for a real-estate investment trust. The building is unoccupied—called a “spec warehouse”—and when it’s constructed, the developer will look for tenants.

Once the work is finished:

Basically, if anything goes wrong in the first two years, the owner will call the general contractor or roofer to come deal with the issue. For the following 13 years, in this case, the manufacturer is on the hook.

What’s Not Included

Big manufacturers do stand by their products and spend millions of dollars honoring claims, but warranties may not be as comprehensive as you presume.

Warranties generally do not include:

  • Excessive abuse, such as new owners re-routing HVAC or adding new penetrations when they take over the building.
  • Consequential damages, such as water coming through the roof and damaging a server inside the building (that’s an issue for your insurance company).
  • Outside damage not related to materials or workmanship, such as storms or downed trees.

Warranties often require periodic upkeep and basic maintenance, which can extend the life of a roof from between 25 and 50 percent of its projected lifespan. Some warranties overlap with others, and some don’t cover anything at all. Sit down with your contractor and get a thorough understanding of what’s covered and what isn’t before the work is undertaken.

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