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Understanding Your Roofing Warranty: What Exactly Is Covered?

Understanding Your Roofing Warranty: What Exactly Is Covered?

A new roof is a big decision and a costly home renovation project, so knowing how to protect your investment is key. Once you’ve found a contractor you trust, agree on the scope of the project, and sign the contract, you may have some lingering concerns about the long term performance of the roof. How do you know you’re using the best materials? What if something is installed incorrectly? With so much on the line, it’s natural for consumers to worry about the quality and lifespan of a new roof.

While a good contractor should be able to help ease your fears, your roof replacement should also include a warranty that can help you breathe a little easier. Understanding the terms of a warranty can be a challenge as there is often a lot of fine print. Just remember, the type of warranty and its associated coverage will ultimately depend on your contractor and the type of materials used for the job. 

Before you agree to work with a contractor, be sure that you’re clear on all the details of the warranty including the terms, what is not covered, what can void it, and your responsibilities as a homeowner. In this post, we’ll cover all the most important things to know about your roofing warranty.

General Types Of Roofing Warranties

There are three common types of roofing warranties that help to guarantee the lifespan of a new roof: a materials warranty, a workmanship warranty, and a full system warranty. These warranties provided varying levels of coverage in the event you experience some form of roof failure in the future. 

  • Material Warranty
    Roofing material warranties are the most common type of warranties. They offer protection in the event your roofing materials (ex: shingles or tiles) were to fail, as long as the defectiveness is not  related to installation issues. These warranties offer the least amount of coverage, as they really only cover the cost of materials.
    In the event your shingles are defective, you’ll be on the hook for installation costs, which can be quite expensive. 
  • Workmanship Or Labor Warranty
    While material warranties cover shingles or tiles, a workmanship warranty covers installation and labor. If something is installed incorrectly or your contractor does a poor job, your workmanship warranty should have you covered. Examples of installation related issues are errors related to project management, unskilled workers, or just simple mistakes. Since issues that occur from small installation problems often don’t show up for several years, some contractors offer a workmanship warranty to guarantee the performance of their work. Pay close attention to the “service without charge” clause, as this is the time frame you can require the original contractor to return and fix an issue. Roofing workmanship warranties can range anywhere from 10-25 years depending on the contractor and the job, but the service without charge period is usually much less.
  • Full System Warranty
    Full system warranties will cover more than a manufacturer’s warranty, but less than a workmanship warranty. They guarantee performance of your materials, but they also go a bit further and cover things like flashing, metal work, and manufacturer approved accessories. They usually cover labor associated with roof leak repairs under certain terms and conditions. Unlike a workmanship warranty, they usually don’t cover installation-related issues.

What Isn’t Uncovered Under Roofing Warranties?

Understanding the terms of your roofing warranty isn’t always straightforward. To further complicate things, your coverage will ultimately depend on the type of warranty you have. Every warranty is different and the terms really can vary by contractor and manufacturer, so always be sure to read the fine print. There are many things warranties do not cover, but below are some of the most common examples:

  • Acts of God
    Acts of God usually refer to weather related damage. Hurricanes, floods, fire, and hail are often not covered under warranties. Damage caused by high wind speeds are also rarely covered (though there are exceptions). If your roof is damaged from weather, you will most likely need to rely on your homeowners insurance for coverage.
  • Interior Damage
    Any damage to your attic, walls, or ceilings as a result of roof damage is unlikely to be covered under your warranty.  This includes water stains, mold growth, or damage to your personal property. Your warranty likely only applies to damage directly caused to your roofing system.
  • Improper Installation
    Hiring an unskilled contractor or attempting a DIY roof replacement might save you more upfront, but you run the risk of voiding your warranty if the installation isn’t handled properly. This is true for most warranties, so only trust a skilled contractor to handle your roof replacements. One small mistake could cost you a lot in the long run.
  • Improper Maintenance
    Attempting to maintain or clean your roof yourself can also lead to a voided warranty. For example, using a power washer to clean your roof could damage your shingles. Climbing on your roof  is never recommended as it can not only be dangerous, but you can damage your roof if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

Some warranties also have additional terms, such as a requirement for regular roofing inspections or an obligation to report leaks or other issues within a certain time period. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your obligations under your roofing warranty. Waiting too long to call a contractor can easily lead to a voided warranty. 

How Long Do Roofing Warranties Last?

Many shingle manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties, which means the coverage remains in effect as long as you own the home. Some lifetime warranties may be able to be transferred to new homeowners under certain conditions. Some manufacturers have pro-rated lifetime warranties, which means the payout is based on the age of the material and diminishes overtime. If your materials don’t come with a lifetime warranty, then the coverage time frame might be from 25 to 50 years. More durable materials, such as clay tiles, may offer longer warranty periods. Workmanship warranties generally vary depending on your contractor and tend to be anywhere from 5 to 20 years.

No two roofing warranties are exactly the same, which is why it’s always important to read the terms and conditions in their entirety.  Always be sure to do your research, and if you don’t understand, make sure to ask questions. Your roofing contractor should always take the time to explain the details of your warranty prior to signing a contract.

While a roofing warranty can help offset the risk of an expensive roof investment, working with a skilled contractor is the best way to ensure you’re getting what you pay for. If you’re looking for a roofer in the Oviedo area, contact Native Building Services & Roofing today. We’ve been serving the Central Florida area for more than 30 years.

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