What is a warranty?
All homeowners should receive a warranty with any purchase, although the fine details of these can be very confusing. A warranty is a written guarantee that is issued to the purchaser, promising to repair or replace a product if necessary, within a specified period of time. There are various warranties that cover different things. Warranties are not required to be included with contracts, so making sure to read your warranty before you decide to move forward is very important. Understanding what warranties cover, and more importantly, what they do not cover, is vital in making a good decision.
Warranties begin with a standard, legally required warranty on parts and labor. All licensed contractors are required by law to give a one year warranty on any projects that are over $500. This includes the products and installation. To take advantage of this warranty, a complaint must be filed within one year of completion. After the initial year passes, a contractor has no legal obligation to help you. Also, the contractor who originally did the work must be the one to complete any repairs. Anyone who repairs a product, outside of the installer (even in an emergency), can void your warranty all together.
What about a manufacturer’s warranty?
A manufacturer’s warranty covers your material. The manufacturer is obligated to replace their product (usually for 20 to 50 years) if the product fails. This is likely to be prorated. A prorated warranty states that a failed product will be replaced at a cost determined by the age of the item at the time of failure. A warranty should list in detail what is covered and for how long. For example, a roofing warranty might cover wind resistance for 15 years, but algae growth for 10. Manufacturers subject their products to comprehensive stress tests before issuing these warranties, so it is rare that a product will fail before expected.
Most homeowners run into problems due to improper installation. These issues are unlikely to present themselves immediately. Improperly installed roofing typically fails at an average of six years, as reported by the National Roofing Contractor Association. Unfortunately, installation mistakes can also void your manufacturer’s warranty.
A workmanship warranty, or labor warranty, covers installation repairs outside of the mandated one year time period. The duration of your labor warranty will differ according to contractor. Most quality remodeling companies offer five to ten years for labor, or even longer depending on the business. A company that goes above and beyond the minimum shows that they are willing to stand behind their work.
A lifetime warranty is becoming more and more common in the home remodeling industry. A “lifetime” can mean different things. In general, it is referring to the next 50 years, or as long as you live in your home. A lifetime warranty is usually only given to a company’s best products. Some manufacturers go as far as partnering with their highest ranking contractors to ensure a lifetime labor warranty as well.
Can I transfer my warranty if I sell my home?
Both manufacturer and labor warranties can be transferable. If you move from your home, the next homeowner can still be covered under the warranty. This will potentially help you with the sale of your home. If a warranty is transferable, ask your contractor about transfer procedures for the future.
It is crucial to understand that a warranty is only as good as the company that gives it to you. If a company is no longer in business by the time you make a warranty claim, you would be sadly out of luck. It is wise to research how long a company has been in business and that they have not done business under other names in the past. This will save you a ton of trouble later on.
Good luck in your decision making process!