Four Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing a Commercial Guarantee

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Most building owners would never consider installing a commercial roof without purchasing a guarantee. A guarantee ensures that their new roof will be covered for the term specified in the contract. However, many owners don’t realize what that coverage actually includes—and what it does not.

Some manufacturers have turned guarantees into marketing tools by promoting their 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms. This has caused a common misconception: that long-term guarantees are actually comprehensive insurance policies that guarantee the roof will perform for a specified length of time. While a long-term guarantee can imply that the roof system is a good-quality product, in actuality, the guarantee only describes the manufacturer’s responsibilities for the product for a set period of time. It does not predict roof life or performance.

When purchasing a roof guarantee, it’s crucial that you understand upfront what the guarantee does and does not cover. Knowing what to avoid is just as important as what to select when it comes to coverage. Don’t get caught in these common traps:

  1. Forgetting about maintenance. Almost all roof guarantees require that the owner perform regular inspections and maintenance in order to maintain coverage, so it’s important to remember to have this done—or the guarantee coverage you thought you were buying may be void. Purchase your guarantee from a roofing manufacturer that sends regular maintenance reminders and checklists and that can extend your coverage at no additional cost when they handle the maintenance (the latter is available through specialized contractors who are affiliated with certain roof system manufacturers, such as GAF). Understand that part of the guarantee’s terms may include specific and timely leak reporting and repairs that must be made by an approved and licensed contractor.
  2. Finding out too late that what you need isn’t covered. Are custom-fit metal flashings included in your roof guarantee (many don’t cover this)? How about the contractor’s workmanship? Don’t purchase a guarantee without first making certain that it includes all the coverage you need! Only purchase a guarantee that offers true edge-to-edge coverage of your roof.
  3. Not knowing if the guarantee is transferable. If your roof guarantee can be transferred, it can be used as a selling point in marketing your building later on—especially if the roof is in good condition and doesn’t need replacement in the near future. Make sure you fully understand the transferability terms of your guarantee.
  4. Losing the actual guarantee. Many deficiencies that could or should be corrected by the manufacturer are ultimately not, simply because the building owner was unaware of the guarantee’s coverage after misplacing or losing the guarantee information. Always store your guarantee document(s) in a safe, specific physical location or database so the information can be quickly and easily accessed when you need it.

A guarantee is but one of the key parts of the roof selection process. Proper roof design, planning, construction, and maintenance won’t just help your roof achieve its maximum service life—they’ll also allow you to get the most out of your guarantee.

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