There are several important decisions to make if you’re in the process of replacing or repairing your roof – a few big ones being the materials used, the contractor who will do the work, and the warranty (or warranties) to back it up.

While doing research online or chatting with potential contractors, you’ve probably heard about manufacturer and workmanship warranties, and it’s important to understand the difference between the two before you move forward with a purchase. Once you’ve grasped both of these concepts, you’ll also have a better sense of the value in an extended warranty.

What is a Manufacturer Warranty?

If your contractor mentions a manufacturer – or materials – warranty, they are strictly referring to coverage for your roof materials; your warranty stipulations will vary depending on the type of materials, as well as the company that makes them.
Most manufacturers provide a standard lifetime limited warranty (“lifetime” typically meaning for as long as you own the home the roof is installed on) for shingles that need replacement. A few things to keep in mind about standard warranties are:

  • They typically cover only the cost of defective materials, not the cost of labor to replace them
  • It’s common for manufacturer warranties to decrease over time as your roof ages, offering only partial coverage after a handful of years
  • They only cover factory defects, not failures caused by careless or incorrect installation, which means it’s important to pick a qualified contractor

Before you select a specific roofing material or a contractor to install it, be sure you understand the exact terms of your manufacturer warranty. Your contractor should:

Show you the manufacturer warranty in writing
Be able to answer all of your questions about it
Be well-versed in any installation scenarios that would void the warranty

If they fail to do any of these things, you may want to consider going with a more qualified contractor who will be sure you get the coverage you deserve.

What is a Workmanship Warranty?

Because standard manufacturer warranties won’t cover the cost of materials in the event of improper installation, a workmanship warranty acts as the missing piece of that puzzle. Reputable roofing contractors will always offer some form of warranty for failures caused by improper installation or worker error. Here are a few things to keep in mind about workmanship warranties:

  • Typically covers both the labor and materials required to fix the problem
  • Usually won’t cover issues caused by elements outside of the contractor’s workmanship, such as storm damage or fallen trees

A workmanship warranty is only as good as the contractor offering it; do your research to ensure you’ve chosen an established, reputable company that has a track record of pleasing customers – the last thing you want is for your contractor to not honor your warranty or suddenly stop taking your calls.

Extended Manufacturer Warranties: Best of Both Worlds

When your roof materials have a standard manufacturer warranty, it’s a good idea to also secure a workmanship warranty to fill in the coverage gaps. However, when you go the extra mile of paying for an extended manufacturer warranty, you’ll actually get both types of coverage in one.

Extended manufacturer warranties also cover the workmanship portion because they only apply when your roof system is installed by an authorized contractor, thereby eliminating the possibility of an egregious installation by an underqualified contractor. If you don’t select an authorized contractor, you won’t even have the option to upgrade to an extended warranty – yet another reason to be choosy with your installer. Plus, these warranties require that you have an entire roof system installed, not just shingles. This might involve other components, such as:

  • Ice and water barriers
  • Underlayment
  • Hip and ridge gap shingles
  • Soffit and ridge vents
  • Starter and field shingles

Of course, the extra cost and requirements are accompanied by extra coverage for those who are seeking more peace of mind. Extended warranties:

  • Offer coverage for all roof system components, considering they’re all provided by the manufacturer and installed by an authorized contractor
  • Provide lengthier coverage – sometimes 100% for the full life of the warranty, rather than prorated as the years go on
  • Might come with other benefits, such as the ability to transfer the warranty to a new homeowner, increasing your home’s marketability

Roof Warranties: The Bottom Line

When it comes to your choice of roof warranty, there’s no clear right or wrong. What really matters is that you’ve done your research and you have a solid understanding of what you’re getting and what you aren’t. Make sure you:

  • See your warranty or warranties in writing before agreeing to anything
  • Ask your contractor as many questions as you need to
  • Vet all potential contractors thoroughly before giving them the job

If you decide to forego an extended warranty and stick with a standard manufacturer warranty, be sure to research the exact coverage offered and also pay special attention when shopping for a workmanship warranty to supplement it. If you’d rather spend more money upfront for more comprehensive coverage and additional peace of mind, then an extended warranty is the way to go. It all depends on your budget and personal preference.

Dependable Roof Contractor in Indianapolis

We only use the highest quality roofing materials for Indianapolis homeowners, and all of our work comes with a 50-year material warranty. We offer a generous five-year workmanship warranty; most errors in repairs or installations will be noticeable within one to two years, but we like to give our clients extra time to observe any issues and take advantage of their well-deserved warranty.

Whether you still have lingering questions about manufacturer vs workmanship warranties, or you’re looking for a trusted roof replacement or repair contractor, call Indy Roof & Restoration today!

Aaron Christy

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