10 Critical Questions:Your Roof or Other Home Improvement Warranties
Here’s a BIG question for consumers working on home improvement warranties and others related to renovation, or building projects: Can the right product warranty ensure the right quality?
I think strong product and installation warranties do help inform consumers about a product’s quality. A strong and authentic warranty enables you to gain confidence in your decision and investment.
Here’s some background on building products, and because it’s the industry I work in, I’ll offer examples and warranty issues related to metal roofing.
Builder Grade Products or The Real Deal
In the construction industry, there have often been two general levels of building materials – “Builder-Grade” products and High-Quality products.
Builder-Grade products are so-named because they are used by many home builders who, being very sensitive to overall project costs, are looking for materials that will “get by.” These products will serve the purpose and meet code but often must be replaced after just a few years of service. That makes them stand out in contrast to Higher-Quality building materials.
Even if you’re remodeling your home rather than building a new home, you will still encounter Builder-Grade materials. You’ve heard it before, of course: the “name brand” products sold at the big boxes are often not the same quality level as those manufacturers supply to contractors through wholesale distribution.
So, here’s another big question for you as a homeowner: What are the things that help you determine a quality product with great value versus a Builder-Grade product with lesser performance?
One very good thing to check out is the warranty on the product. Builder-Grade products, sold at lower margins and made from lower-quality materials, frequently carry weaker warranties.
With an installed metal roof (as with most building materials), you will receive two warranties. Please make sure to secure them both in writing before proceeding, and to read over and understand them.
Warranties: 1 Good Thing with 2 Good Parts
One warranty will come from the manufacturer of the product and cover the integrity of the metal roofing product itself while the other will come from the installing contractor covering their original workmanship.
One thing to watch out for is a “product” warranty that comes not from a metal roofing manufacturer but from the company that supplied the metal for the metal roof panels. Such warranties are very limited in scope and coverage. For example, they will usually cover only the value of the raw materials for your roof, not the finished product. They also will cover only the performance of the painted metal, not the performance of the roof system. This means they do not cover things like wind damage or resistance to hail. These warranties not only have very limited coverage, but they historically have been very difficult for property owners to collect on.
With quality products, on the other hand, you will receive a product warranty from the company that fabricated the roofing. They, in turn, should have a warranty from their painted metal supplier which may offer them some back-up support in the event of paint-related product failure.
In looking at roofing product warranties, make sure that you have answers to the following critical things:
- What exactly does the warranty cover? What does it not cover?
- Are there provisions for wind, hail, fade, and chalk?
- Who is the warranty from? What is the history of that company? Are they a company you can connect with and get answers from? Is it a “real company” or a “shell company” set up to import low-quality offshore products
- Is the warranty prorated and, if so, what is the proration schedule? Beware of some warranties that prorate to perhaps 50% coverage after 10 or fewer years.
- Can the warranty be transferred to future owners? If so, how many times, and what are the requirements for doing so?
Here’s an example of a lifetime, transferable product warranty, from my company.
In regards to the workmanship warranty you receive from your contractor, please consider the following:
- Are you receiving a written and legal warranty or just a “promise” and perhaps a note on your contract?
- What does the warranty cover, and what does it not cover? Contractors often do not want to give long warranties, citing the possibility of “Acts of God.” One option is to have a warranty that excludes damage or problems resulting from Acts of God.
- For how long is the warranty? Does it transfer to future owners or, perhaps, a surviving spouse?
- Who is providing the warranty? What is their track record and length of time in business?
- How seriously a contractor takes their warranty likely mirrors how seriously they will take your home.
Based upon the above information, you should be able to navigate your way through the often confusing and sometimes “smoke and mirrors” world of warranties.
Register Those Home Improvement Warranties
Once you’ve made a decision for a quality product, with quality installation and warranties, be sure to register those warranties. It’s amazing how many homeowners forget to do this or think it unimportant.
I understand that researching home improvements can be a bit daunting; it’s not something most homeowners do every day. Here’s a list of more questions to ask your roofing contractor, or any other home-improvement specialist, before you buy.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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