A commercial roof warranty is one of two things:
- A written guarantee from the manufacturer of a roofing product issued to a purchaser of the product to ensure the repair or replacement of the product within a specific period of time, if necessary. Or,
- A written guarantee from the product installer to the customer that defective workmanship or defective products that the installer supplies will be corrected or replaced within a certain time period, respectively.
There are five main types of commercial roof warranty products that apply to the warranty descriptions above: a manufacturer’s NDL warranty, a manufacturer’s material warranty, a manufacturer labor and material warranty, a manufacturer roof system warranty, and a roofing contractor warranty. Below, we take a look at each type of warranty in terms of the benefits it offers to the building owner, what it covers, and what it doesn’t cover.
- Manufacturer’s NDL Warranty
This type of commercial roof warranty, in which NDL stands for “no dollar limit”, states that the manufacturer will fully cover its defective products or failure of the products under proper use during the warranty period. Product failure is commonly due to manufacturing defects and/or premature aging.
A manufacturer’s NDL warranty covers only materials you purchase from the manufacturer. For example, if your roof experiences a leak due to protrusions on the rooftop (e.g. exhaust vents and antennas), the manufacturer won’t provide new materials unless the problem resulted from a defects in its products. In addition, this type of warranty may not cover labor for repairing or replacing defective products.
- Manufacturer’s Material Warranty
This type of commercial roof warranty guarantees that the manufacturer’s products won’t fail within a certain period of time (e.g., 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, etc.). Materials that a roofing contractor uses that aren’t from the manufacturer issuing the warranty are not covered. However, a manufacturer’s material warranty may cover certain types of defective workmanship. Types of defective workmanship that are covered vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
- Manufacturer Labor and Material Warranty
This limited type of warranty covers defects in materials and labor. However, there are typically maximum limits regarding what the manufacturer is financially responsible for repairing. Unlike an NDL warranty that has “no dollar limit”, a manufacturer labor and material warranty does have a dollar limit. Because this type of warranty is often prorated, the coverage limit for repairing or replacing defective components often depends on when the defects occur.
- Manufacturer Roof System Warranty
This type of warranty is often referred to as a “membrane only” warranty, as it applies only to the membrane of the roof system. For example, the warranty doesn’t cover damage to sheet metal and insulation. The exception is when the warranty is “limited” or has “no dollar limit”. In both cases, the warranty applies to roof leakage that results from defective labor and/or defective materials that may involve materials other than the roof membrane.
- Roofing Contractor Warranty
This type of commercial roof warranty covers the workmanship performed to install roofing products, but it doesn’t cover products from the manufacturer that are installed. Most roofing labor warranties don’t exceed five years, and some are as short as one year. However, the fact that they cover both defective workmanship and defective products that the installer supplies makes them highly valuable while they remain in effect.
Examine the Warranty Before You Buy
At first glance, commercial roof warranties may seem to be designed to favor building owners, but the opposite is often true. The warranties are commonly created by attorneys to protect the financial interests of the manufacturer and the roof installer, while offering a modicum of customer service features that are more impressive on paper than they are in reality.
This is why it’s important to review warranties in their entirely before you buy roofing products or sign a contract to install them in your building. For assistance reviewing commercial roof warranty products, consider consulting with a commercial real estate attorney. Or get advice from an experienced commercial roof contractor like as Sentry Roof Services — we’re happy to help.
This post is the second in a three-part series about commercial roofing warranties. Last month we talked about A Manufacturer’s Commercial Roof Warranty Isn’t Insurance! and why you need both. Next month we’ll talk about who’s responsible for what when it comes to your warranties.