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Understanding Roof Warranties


Warranties are often misunderstood, especially when it comes to roofing. Before making the investment to purchase or repair your roof, pay close attention to the warranty options, as all warranties are not created equal. Knowing what is covered will give you greater confidence in your purchase.

There are warranties offered by the manufacturer, as well as some offered by the installer, often with a lot of fine print

Manufacturer Warranties

In general, a manufacturer warranty (also known as a product warranty) covers defects or problems that occurred in the manufacturing process. Companies typically stand behind their product against manufacturing defects for an amount of time expressly specified in the warranty. The manufacturer warranty is set in stone by the manufacturer, and it cannot be altered by any actions of the homeowner or the contractor. There are many terms used in manufacturer warranties, and they might not always mean what you think. There’s “lifetime,” “prorated,” “full-coverage,” and “systems” warranties that all refer to different levels of coverage:

• A lifetime warranty means coverage for as long as you, as an individual homeowner, own your home—not for the life of the home. This also does not assume the shingles will last a lifetime. Many manufacturers offer the option of an extended warranty when the product is installed by credentialed contractors who install the product per the manufacturer’s instructions.

• Prorated coverage means your coverage reduces in value until it reaches zero percent at the end of the specified warranty period. So, if you have a claim in year eight of a 10-year policy, you would only receive 20 percent of your established value.

• Full-coverage warranties are rare, yet offer the full-value replacement for a stated length of time. So, if you make a claim in the eighth year of a 10-year warranty, the full amount is covered. Full coverage, however, is defined differently among companies. Some will term full coverage as the original cost of the installation, while others will use current fair market value.

Contractor Warranties

While manufacturers often support superior workmanship by offering credentialing programs, training, and even on-site assistance to contractors, manufacturers typically don’t insure workmanship. For this reason, many contractors offer their own workmanship warranty (also known as an installation warranty). This warranty typically assures that any work installed will be of good quality and free from defects for an amount of time specified in the warranty, most often set as one or two years. Workmanship warranties do not provide remedy for damage or defect caused by abuse, modifications by someone other than the contractor, improper use/maintenance, or wear and tear under normal usage. The workmanship warranty provided by a roofing contractor cannot be influenced by the product manufacturer.

System Warranties

System warranties combine product and installation warranties into one, and are typically provided by the roofing manufacturer. System warranties are generally only available when the system components are from the same manufacturer, since all parts are designed to work together according to the manufacturer specifications.

Protecting Yourself

With all the variety of warranties on the market, it’s important to understand your coverage and how it meets your needs. Do your research before deciding on a contractor or product, and ask questions if you’re unsure about what is covered. The contractor you choose to repair or replace your roof should be competent and able to complete the work in a professional and timely manner. Establishing in writing the details of services to be performed by the contractor, the timelines in which those services are to be performed, and the expectations of the homeowner will help avoid possible disputes. As the homeowner, it is in your best interest to read all warranties and follow up with the manufacturer or contractor with questions about coverage. Knowing your warranty thoroughly will help you feel better about your roof purchase, and provide you with a big advantage if you ever need to make a claim. Ask questions so you understand what is covered with the shingles you are choosing, and ask your contractor to contact the manufacturer’s local representative if you believe your newly installed roof has manufacturing-related issues. You may be able to have the problem fixed at no cost to you.


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