Commercial Roof Warranties: Which Party Is Responsible for What?

As with any contract, when it comes to commercial roof warranties, it’s important to understand your responsibilities and the responsibilities of the other parties involved — before you agree to it!

A commercial roof warranty is a legal relationship between a roof manufacturer or a roofing contractor and the building owner to whom the warranty is issued. Commercial roof warranties define the relationship between these parties regarding what types of roof repair and roof replacement costs are covered by each, regardless of a building’s size and occupancy status.

Because remedies that commercial roof warranties provide can have a major impact on the short-term and long-term operating costs of building owners and their tenants, start by making sure you know what the manufacturer’s warranty and roofing contractor’s warranty each cover before selecting your manufacturer and contractor — it’s an important part of the roofing process and it happens before you sign on the dotted line.

Let’s take a look at which party is responsible for covering roof repair costs and roof replacement expenses based on warranty type.

Roof manufacturer

With a materials warranty, a roofing materials manufacturer is responsible to the building owner for replacing its own defective products free of charge. The manufacturer is not required, however, to replace defective materials that the roofing contractor supplies or to cover defects that result from poor workmanship on the part of the contractor.

Also, the manufacturer is not responsible for covering the cost of labor needed to replace or repair its own defective products. An exception is when a manufacturer “labor and material” warranty is in place. Under this type of warranty, the manufacturer pays for new materials and the labor required to install it, within certain limits.

Another exception is when a “no dollar limit” (NDL) warranty is used. This warranty specifically applies to correcting roof leakage caused by defects in labor or materials.

Roofing contractor

With a roofing contractor warranty, the roofing contractor is responsible to the building owner for repairing or replacing defective materials that the contractor — and not the roof manufacturer — supplies. The contractor is also required to provide additional labor to correct poor workmanship at no cost to the building owner.

Because contractor warranties are generally shorter than manufacturer warranties, it’s recommended that building owners have the manufacturer labor and material warranty mentioned above in place that covers what the contractor would have covered if its warranty were still active.

Building owner

As the building owner (or owner representative or property manager), you are responsible for paying the labor costs associated with repairing or replacing defective materials but you are not responsible for paying for the actual materials — those are covered by under the manufacturer warranty. Unless, of course, you have a labor and material warranty or an NDL warranty. Then you’re off the hook for those costs.

Under a contractor warranty, as the building owner you pay nothing to fix problems that result from poor workmanship or defective materials that the roofing contractor supplies. The contractor covers defects in materials or workmanship that cause leaks, within certain limits.

Choosing warranties

Manufacturer roof warranties and contractor roof warranties vary significantly in terms of what’s covered and for how long. This is why it’s imperative that you perform your due diligence and research commercial roof warranties before you choose a manufacturer and contractor.

Sentry’s contractor warranty provisions are some of the best that you’ll find in the industry. For a good example of manufacturer warranty options, check out Firestone’s sample roof warranties.

This is the last in our three-part series about commercial roofing warranties. Check out our other posts in the series, A Manufacturer’s Commercial Roof Warranty Isn’t Insurance! Here’s Why You Need Both  and Types of Commercial Roof Warranty Products. You can also visit our Warranties FAQ. If you have questions about choosing the best coverage options for your specific building, give us a call. We’re here to help.

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