The decision to invest in a new roof isn’t one you can make lightly. If it’s an emergency, you won’t have a choice—but that doesn’t mean you can dive in headfirst without doing your homework.
When you spend all that money, you can expect your roof will last the full 30-50 years the materials are meant for. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any issues along the way.
Luckily, you have your warranties to protect the investment. Right? The situation is a bit more complicated than that.
There’s a wide variety of warranties in the roofing industry and it’s important not to overlook your true coverage. Whenever you’re investing in a new roof, you need to be well-versed in all kinds of warranties and know how they vary in terms of coverage and obligation.
Understanding the Uniform Commercial Code
The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) was first drafted in 1952 as a way to make interstate transactions easier to facilitate. It provides uniform treatment for many common business transactions—construction included.
Before diving into the warranty discussion, it’s important to point out that the UCC is meant to apply to the sale of goods. That makes its application to roofing construction a bit unclear.
In fact, a 1983 court case, Beckenstein v. Potter & Carrier, Inc., found that a contractor was not held to the standards of UCC after fulfilling roofing services. That doesn’t mean UCC never applies.
The key is determining when the transaction involves the sale of goods or the sale of services. For example, if you purchase roofing materials from one place and a contractor simply installs them, UCC warranties won’t apply. But if the contractor sells you the materials and then installs them, you can rely on UCC.
However, if your transaction does fall under UCC, there are two types of warranties you can be covered by:
- Express Warranties: These are the affirmative promises that a contractor makes about the goods sold. This is what we usually think of when we hear the term “warranty.” It tells you how long the goods are guaranteed for, outlines the coverage in case of failure, and explains the liability of the contractor alongside the restrictions of the buyer. An express warranty helps you submit a claim if you’re 3 years into a new roof and suddenly the materials start to degrade unexpectedly, leading to leaks and damage.
- Implied Warranties: These are more fundamental to the goods themselves. Implied warranties are those that guarantee the goods you’re buying are fit for intended use. That is, the materials you buy for the roof are actually built to function as expected when installed properly.
At first glance, you might think that these basic UCC warranties would cover you for just about any scenario in which you weren’t at fault. But you have to be careful with disclaimers.
Beware Disclaimers on Your Warranties
Because the UCC warranties provide such broad coverage, contractors use disclaimers to limit the scope of their liability.
There are guidelines to what can and can’t be disclaimed. However, those rules are only enforced if you bring a suit somewhere down the line.
In some cases, contractors will try to make blanket statements, such as “Express and limited warranties do not apply.” Consider whether or not this sort of contractor is worth working with. This statement won’t suffice for UCC, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trustworthy partner.
Effective disclaimers give rise to three common roofing warranties:
- Contractor’s Workmanship Guarantee: Protection against poor workmanship and mistakes during installation. Coverage for labor and materials falls in this category and you usually get repairs included for 1-10 years depending on your contractor.
- Manufacturer’s Material Warranty: This warranty covers the materials used during construction. Any failures and defects in materials that lead to damage are covered for between 10 and 30 years. However, it can be difficult to successfully file a claim for these warranties.
- Manufacturer’s Full System Warranty: These warranties extend beyond the main materials to cover flashing and other accessories of the roofing system.
Any time you’re investing in a new roofing system, pay close attention to the disclaimers. Don’t let a contractor side-step your warranty claims just because you missed a note before signing the agreement.
Hiring a Contractor? Keep the Spearin Doctrine in Mind
The Spearin Doctrine, also known as the implied warranty of constructability doctrine, is an important concept to understand if you’re getting ready to hire your contractor. It states that general contractors aren’t liable for construction defects if the problems lie in the designs they were given.
That means that if you have a roof designed according to specification and then contract construction out to someone else, there’s a risk of warranties being void. You’re still covered under the warranties like contractor’s workmanship and manufacturer’s materials, but the doctrine protects contractors from building according to faulty designs.
If you want to ensure proper construction (that’s covered by all warranties you expect), make sure you take the time to verify designs before sending contractors ahead with construction. This means having a partner you trust and carefully reviewing any agreements you sign.
Keeping up with the legalese of warranties isn’t always easy. It’s best to work with a contractor that makes the process as pain-free as possible. We make sure to explain our warranties in detail right on our website so you’re never taken by surprise.
Want to learn more? Contact us today. To learn more about PHP or to schedule a free rooftop support evaluation. Visit PHP online and submit a free evaluation request form or call PHP at 1-800-797-6585.