We’ve all gotten the hard sell for the upgraded warranty. It does seem a sorry state of affairs that we now have to pay extra to get a company to stand behind its product. Most consumer advocates will adamantly insist that any "extended warranty” is a rip-off, and in most cases I would agree. The one exception to the rule is when you are buying new asphalt shingles for your apartment or townhouse building.
Standard shingle warranties, even from the big, well-thought-of companies are misleading and, to be candid, terrible. They try and make it seem like a good deal by putting a big number on it (25 year, 40 year, Lifetime!). You’re led to believe that if you have any kind of problem during that period, you’re covered. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are a few big problems with standard shingle warranties.
The first is that all standard shingle warranties have proration. Generally, there will be a five year non-prorated period at the beginning, then the coverage (expressed as a percentage of the value of the shingles) goes down a little each year. By the end of the warranty, the manufacturer’s obligation is almost nothing.
The second major issue is that installation labor is generally only covered during that five year, non-prorated period. After that, while they may pay for a percentage of the new shingles, you are on your own to pay someone to install them.
Lastly, there are the other items the standard warranty does not cover at any time. They include tear-off costs, debris disposal costs and the costs of all the other components that are necessary to install the roof. These include, but are not limited to underlayments, vents, valleys, flashings, edging metals and nails.
If your new roof starts to fail in its sixth year due to some inherent flaw in the manufacture of the shingle, according to the terms of the standard warranty you would only be entitled to a percentage of the value of the shingles. On an average roofing job the costs of the shingles may only be 20-30% of the cost of the job. Guess who has to pay the rest.
The good news is that most reputable shingle manufacturers seldom have a widespread problem with their shingles. The better news is that most of these same manufacturers offer an upgraded warranty that fills in these significant gaps and gets the coverage back up to a level where most consumers would have expected it to be in the first place.
GAF/Elk offers the Weather Stopper Systems Plus and Weather Stopper Golden Pledge. Certainteed has their SureStart program with 3, 4 and 5 Star coverage. Owens Corning has their Preferred Protection and Platinum Protection coverage. While the individual details vary slightly, all of these upgraded warranties essentially do the same thing: bring the manufacturer’s warranty coverage up to a decent level.
If you are in the market for a new roof for one of your properties, make sure your contractor is talking to you about the upgraded warranties available to you for the roofing system you have selected. Generally, they are relatively inexpensive. The added protection they give will provide added peace of mind, especially now that you know how bad the standard warranty is.