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Do You Know How to Use Your Commercial Roof Warranty?

Commercial roofing know-how
By June 8, 2023March 15th, 2024No Comments

Sometimes a commercial roof can fall under an “out of sight out of mind” or “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. But the reality is, the roof is one of the most critical elements of your building’s structure. The roof protects everything from the top down, and when it fails or becomes damaged, you risk destroying the countless other assets under it. That’s why it’s so important to understand how well you’re covered  with your roofing warranty before you need to use it.

What is covered under my commercial roof warranty?

If you have a roofing material manufacturer’s warranty, the original installing roofing contractor is required to provide a two-year workmanship warranty to cover issues resulting from the workmanship during the first 2 years of the roof installation.

The material manufacturer’s warranty can cover both labor and materials or just the materials from 10 years and up to 25 years depending on the type of warranty purchased. Repairs that are typically covered are those caused by deterioration of materials due to normal weathering, manufacturing defects, or workmanship in the application of the roof system.

It is extremely important to read the specific terms, conditions and limitations in the warranty carefully as they cover specific items such as length of coverage, exclusions to covered repairs and what circumstances can void the warranty.

What is the difference between a materials-only warranty and a labor and materials warranty?

The materials only warranty covers the manufacturer’s materials but will not protect the owner from a faulty installation. This is a very inexpensive warranty with very limited protection. A labor and materials warranty will cover the performance of the materials and workmanship for the specified length of time.  Also be sure to note the type of cost coverage on a manufacturer’s warranty.  Some may have full coverage with “No Dollar Limit” (NDL) meaning that all labor and material costs will be covered to make the necessary repairs.  The other type of coverage is “Limited” coverage meaning that the cost of the repairs will be prorated depending on the remaining life of the roof.

What happens if I need a repair, but I do not want to work with the original commercial roof installer?

After the initial two-year contractor workmanship warranty, you are free to use another roofing contractor.  However, you must be certain that the new contractor you choose is certified by the manufacturer who is providing the warranty. When you contact the manufacturer to report a roof issue, you can request another contractor be sent out. Many roofing materials manufacturers can supply a list of certified or approved contractors. These contractors have been trained by the manufacturer in proper installation techniques and procedures for their products. Many commercial roofing installers like Schena Roofing have multiple certifications and are certified with most roofing manufacturers.

What isn’t covered under the commercial roof warranty?

For the most part, roofing manufacturers stand by their products’ quality and durability, but certain things are not covered. For example, if a building owner adds new mechanical units or other items that require a penetration through the roof, a certified roofing contractor must properly seal those new penetrations and then report it to the roofing manufacturer so that it will be noted on the roof drawing for the warranty.  If this process isn’t followed, the roof manufacturer could void the warranty.

Another example is “failure to use reasonable care in maintaining the roof system or materials”. Most roofing material manufacturers require that annual maintenance be performed by an approved roofing contractor to ensure the proper performance for the life of the roofing system.

Other examples of exceptions are abuse to the roof that could cause damage such as dropping tools or dragging equipment and also severe weather events considered Acts of God, such as a tornado or hurricane.

How long does a commercial roof warranty last?

This can vary depending on the manufacturer of the roofing system. Most manufacturers have roofing warranties from 10 years up to 25 years.  However, the longer the warranty the more expensive the cost and installation requirements.  A 20-year manufacturer No Dollar Limit (NDL) warranty covering both materials and labor is the most common warranty.

What should I look for when selecting a commercial roof warranty?

When selecting a commercial roof warranty, look closely at the duration, what’s covered, and any limitations on the dollar amount of the coverage. The warranty should be with a reputable manufacturer that doesn’t have hidden clauses in the fine print. You also must remember that annual maintenance by a certified roofing contractor is required by most manufacturers to maintain the roof warranty and those costs, although minimal, should be included in your building maintenance budget. 

Will the roof warranty transfer?

A new roof is a costly investment in your building and can also be a valuable selling feature. If you plan to sell your building in the future, it is important to ensure the warranty can be transferred to the new owner. Manufacturers may limit warranty transferability or require specific documentation to be submitted to them upon transfer of ownership.  A transfer fee may apply but is well worth the minimal cost to benefit the new owner.

How to use your commercial roof warranty

You should know how to make a claim for your roof warranty and the steps you can take to get the ball rolling on repairs:

  1. Step 1: Begin the claim process right away once anyone notices damage in the roof. This could be because of a noticeable leak, or it could be during a semi-annual inspection. Inspect the source of the leak, document damage, and call the warranty claims department listed on the warranty. We also have provided links below to the warranty claims page for most major roofing manufacturers.  You should have a good practice of keeping all roof related documents together including the warranty, maintenance agreements, and any other paperwork relating to repairs of modifications made to the roof. Having all this information will greatly expedite the process.
  2. Step 2: The warranty department will dispatch the roofing contractor who originally installed the roofing system to investigate the roof leak. If your roof was installed more than 2 years ago, you have the ability to request a different roofing contractor be sent to make the repair. Otherwise, the contractor will contact you to setup a time to look at the problem.
  3. Step 3: The roofing contractor will investigate the cause of the leak, make the repairs in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications, and then send all photos and documentation of the repair to the roofing manufacturer for reimbursement. As long as the repair falls under the specified coverage, the costs of the repair will be covered by the manufacturer. A professional roofing contractor can usually identify when a leak may not be covered and may advise you if the costs will be your responsibility.

Final thoughts on your commercial roof warranty

Having a good warranty is the goal, but it’s also just as essential to protect it.

As former US president, John F. Kennedy said, “The best time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” It’s vital to have your roof regularly inspected to ensure you don’t have damage you are unaware of. This can also help prevent significant work on the roof in the future. We recommend that you have your roof inspected at least twice a year—once in spring and once in fall.

A new commercial roof is a significant investment to protect your building and your business. Look at your roof warranty like an insurance policy designed to do the same. Ensuring you follow the maintenance guidelines, use  authorized or approved contractors and installers, and understand the processes for filing a claim will ensure that your warranty is ready to cover you if the need arises.

If you are interested in learning more about how Schena Roofing and Sheet Metal can help you with your warranty work, click here to contact us via our website or call (586) 949-4777.

Links to Manufacturer warranty  information: