Warranty of Work

Learn how the various types of roofing warranties protect you.

Knowing what kind of protection homeowners can expect from a roof warranty is a complicated question.

There are manufacturer warranties that cover the materials themselves, and there are workmanship warranties offered by the roofing contractors that install the work. Sometimes these warranties overlap, but that’s certainly not always the case. Just what kind of roof warranty do you need, and what does each kind actually protect you against?

The most common kind of roof warranty is a shingle warranty or manufacturer’s warranty, which may cover you for 20 to 50 years. However, this type of warranty only protects you against defects in the roofing materials themselves, causing them to break down or fail before they should.

And as Roofer Apex, a Apex roofing contractor, points out, a manufacturer’s warranty may be void if the homeowner cannot demonstrate the roof has been periodically maintenanced.

Although having a manufacturer warranty is valuable, it’s actually rare for a roofing problem to be traced to a manufacturing defect. More commonly, a substandard roof is attributable to poor installation — against which you may have no warranty. For that reason, it’s important to hire a highly rated roofer.

And even if the materials themselves are at fault, your warranty may only cover those materials — not the labor required to install them.

A roofer who installs your new roof may offer an installation warranty or workmanship warranty. This covers the contractor’s work that goes into putting a new roof on or other labor associated with your roofing project.

More of these kinds of workmanship warranties are being offered by roofing contractors who want to stand by their work, but usually it carries some kind of clause stating that the warranty is only valid if that contractor is the only one to work on the roof. If you bring in another contractor to fix something on the roof after the original labor, the workmanship warranty may be void.

Selecting a contractor

I received three significantly different proposals from contractors. How should I decide which contractor to select?

A. Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into separate line items are a good sign that the contractor is being thorough and has prepared an accurate estimate. The following is a partial list of items your estimate or proposal should include:

  • The type of roof covering, manufacturer and color
  • Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane
  • Scope of work to be done
    • Removal or replacement of existing roof
    • Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type
    • Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents
  • Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes that are damaged during the course of the work
  • Installation method
  • Approximate starting and completion dates
  • Payment procedures
  • Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage

I received several estimates to replace my asphalt shingle roof system and the prices vary greatly.

A. If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors’ below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work. If an estimate is confusing, ask the contractor to break down the estimate into items/terms you can understand.

My contractor is offering a one-year warranty on my asphalt shingle roof system-is that the industry standard?

A. Before answering the question, a clarification needs to be made about the different warranties you will come across during your roofing project. First, there will be the asphalt shingle manufacturer’s warranty. In general, this warranty covers defects in the manufacture of the shingle. The period of coverage can range from 20 years to a lifetime. Please read NRCA’s consumer advisory bulletin addressing roofing warrantiesfor more information. Once the project is complete, be sure the contractor provides you with a certificate for your records.

Second, the roofing contractor will provide you with a warranty on his workmanship. Typically, this will cover installation and related issues. The warranty should contain what items are covered and what will void them. Many contractors offer one year or two years of coverage; however, there is no industry standard.

Project problems

My contractor just started working on my roof and it’s the middle of winter! At what temperature is it too cold to install asphalt shingles?

A. There are no specific temperature guidelines regarding when it is too cold to install asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles do become brittle in cold temperatures, with fiberglass shingles more likely to break than organic shingles. Breakage can be minimized or eliminated if the shingles are stored in a warm area and loaded onto the roof a few bundles at a time. Another concern is that the self-sealing strips will not seal or bond sufficiently in cold temperatures. Hand-tabbing (the application of quarter-size dabs of adhesive to the underside of shingles) is recommended if the building is located in an area prone to high winds. This will help prevent the shingles from blowing off the roof until warmer weather arrives and the sealing strips can set properly.

Only the underlayment has been installed on my roof and it rained last night. Now, the underlayment is wrinkled. Does it have to be replaced?

A. If the wrinkling isn’t severe enough to affect the shingle installation (i.e., the wrinkling won’t telegraph through the shingles and they won’t appear buckled or wavy once installed), the underlayment probably can remain in place. The effects of wrinkling also will be minimized by using heavier weight shingles.

My contractor installed the felt covering (underlayment) two weeks ago and hasn’t installed the shingles yet. How long can you leave underlayment exposed?

A. Time is not the critical issue; the condition of the underlayment is what’s important. Wrinkled or buckled underlayment should be replaced so the shingles lay flat.

During the re-roofing of my house, the contractor left one side of the roof unprotected and when it rained, water entered the house and my ceiling and walls are damaged. Who is responsible for repairing the interior of my house?

A. Before signing a contract, make sure that it contains language addressing who is responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of the roofing work. All items of concern and work to be done should be included in the contract.

My contractor re-used the existing flashings on my roof and after he finished installing the new shingles, he left! I’ve left several messages with the company and no one will come back to install new flashings. Shouldn’t that be included in the work?

A. If the contract didn’t specify the installation of new flashings, it wasn’t included in the original scope of work. Be sure that all items of work to be done are included in the contract before signing it.