Understanding Your Commercial Roof Warranty
Commercial roofs are significant investments. Although it’s easy to forget about the new roof on top of your building—it’s brand new, after all, and shouldn’t have any problems—it still needs attention. The same is true of your commercial roof warranty.
Your new roof should always come packaged with a warranty that protects your investment from poor workmanship, weak materials, or any combination.
Long-term manufacturer-backed commercial roof warranties save you a lot of money, but you have to know what type of warranty you have and what requirements are necessary to keep it in order. One small mistake could cost you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Our commercial roof warranty guide goes through some of the basics you need to know before signing your contract and also highlights what benefits you can expect from your warranty.
What is a Typical Commercial Roof Warranty?
Commercial roof warranties are a type of guarantee offered by manufacturers, contractors, or a combination of both that covers the roofing system of a commercial building. Multiple types of warranties are available depending on your contractor and the materials they use.
Protecting against defects in the materials, workmanship, and roof installation, your commercial roof warranty typically lasts 5-20 years with varying terms of coverage based on the manufacturer’s and/or contractor’s policy.
Like any insurance policy, the commercial roof warranty aims to ensure that the roofing system will function as intended and deliver the necessary protection for the building. If something goes wrong, a full commercial roof warranty exists to prevent unexpected repairs from costing you money.
To ensure the longevity and functionality of the roof, commercial roof warranties often require specific actions from the building owner, such as regular inspections and maintenance checks. Your commercial roof warranty will be voided if you do not meet those requirements.
Reading your warranty carefully lets you know and understand the expectations on your end of commercial roof upkeep while also providing you with the knowledge of what is or isn’t covered when it comes to commercial roof repairs.
Types of Commercial Roof Warranties
Each contractor and manufacturer uses a different type of commercial roof warranty, so it’s essential to understand what options are available to you. Also, don’t be surprised if the manufacturer/contractor uses different names for the same type of warranty.
Manufacturer warranties are offered by the manufacturer and included with purchasing the commercial roofing system. These typically last 5 to 20 years and protect against defects such as cracks, splits, and leaks in the material.
The contractor provides a contractor warranty separate from any manufacturer warranty.
The length of a contractor warranty can vary, but most contractors guarantee their work for two years.
This warranty protects against issues related to the installation: leaks, improper flashing, and incorrect slope.
Labor and Materials Warranty
The manufacturer and contractor often offer a labor and materials warranty, providing comprehensive protection against material and workmanship defects.
Prorated/Non-Prorated Long-Term Warranty
A non-prorated long-term warranty includes continuous protection over time.
On the other hand, a prorated warranty reduces over time the amount the warranty covers for replacement or repair.
Be sure to understand the terms of your warranty, as this determines your responsibility for repairs.
The best kind of warranty is an NDL (no-dollar-limit) warranty; different manufacturers give them other names.
Under this kind of warranty, the manufacturer will pay for the materials and labor required to replace the roof if a roof system fails.
With a 20-year warranty, if a roof fails on the 19th year, 11th month, and 29th day, the manufacturer will replace the roof — as long as the building owner has complied with the warranty requirements.
How Long Do Most Roofers Guarantee Their Work?
A professional roofing contractor often takes full responsibility for the first two years of a roof’s life, covering materials and labor for any issues.
A high-quality roofing contractor has a team with technical expertise and training that enables them to recognize and remove any sub-par materials during installation, so issues with materials should be rare.
But if something does come up, it is under warranty.
Beyond that initial two-year period, the manufacturer picks up the warranty.
What are the Limitations of a Commercial Roof Warranty?
Every commercial roof warranty is different, but there are enough commonalities for us to identify some of the limitations of what may or may not be covered.
For example, commercial roof warranties often only cover damage due to wind or storms if it exceeds a specific limit. Some warranties cover up to 55 MPH in damages, with the option to increase for additional costs. You may consider contacting your insurance company to complete coverage for any wind or storm.
Edge materials are only often covered under your commercial roof warranty if specified. Check to see if they are covered under other warranties (including membrane or other manufacturer’s warranties); otherwise, you’ll have no coverage.
Ask for a copy of your manufacturer warranty to see everything covered to ensure you don’t have any unexpected problems and costs.
What is the Claim Process for a Commercial Roof Warranty?
If you notice any damage to your commercial roof, contact your warranty claim department (a contact number should be listed in your documentation). Keep all documentation of services, repairs, maintenance, and inspections, as this information helps speed up the entire process.
From there, the claims department sends the roofing contractor to inspect the roof and your damages. If there are leaks or damages, the contractor will fix the issues, send photos of the before and after, and send any other documentation to the manufacturer for reimbursement.
This process may take some time, so ask your contractor or manufacturer for a timeline.
Can I Transfer a Commercial Roof Warranty?
Possibly. Because every manufacturer’s warranty is different, some allow for transfer if you sell your commercial building, and others will not. It is entirely dependent on the language included in your documentation.
If you are purchasing a commercial building, read the manufacturer’s warranty to ensure that you will have coverage from any roof damages and avoid costly repairs (or even replacements).
What Should I Do if I Need an Emergency Commercial Roof Repair?
Contact the contractor who installed your commercial roof if an immediate repair is needed and your warranty claims department is unresponsive. They have the necessary experience and knowledge to work alongside your manufacturer warranty and should be able to help fix your commercial roof before things become dangerous.
What Voids a Commercial Roof Warranty?
Understanding the compliance aspect of a commercial roof warranty is essential. More often than not, the requirements exist to help you, not make life harder for you (or your commercial roof).
Most warranties require an annual inspection and maintenance program. Make sure you read the fine print, as this is the easiest out for a manufacturer if a problem with your roof becomes a significant issue.
If you don’t take care of annual inspections and maintenance, the warranty does not cover any damage your roof sustains.
If, for example, a building owner turns to their roof warranty for a roof leak after a storm and an inspection reveals that the roof has not been maintained, that repair is not covered, and the building owner has to pay out of pocket.
Here are a couple of other factors that void commercial roof warranties:
- Improper installation or maintenance
- Natural disasters or “acts of God”
- Unauthorized repairs or modifications
- Neglect of regular maintenance and inspections
- Expiration of the warranty period
Ridgeworth Roofing, Your Trusted Commercial Roofing Partner for 50 Years
After purchasing (or before), read your warranty carefully. Know what’s covered. Ask your professional roofing contractor to explain if you’re unsure what something means.
At Ridgeworth Roofing, we are committed to being a professional roofing contractor you can trust to help you stay compliant. We maintain records of every commercial roof inspection and service along with photo documentation as proof that the service and repairs have been completed, which can be provided to the manufacturer as proof of compliance.