Avoiding warranty woes

Roofing warranty program helps roofing contractors attract clients

Building owners want roofs that will last. Unfortunately, some manufacturers offer them all the proof of durability they might think need in the form of warranties covering decades.

"But if you read the fine print, some warranties really don't have any value," says Stephen Teal, technical manager at Flynn Canada Ltd., from his Calgary office.

Teal provides an example from China: "It was a 10-year warranty but it was non-assignable and non-transferable. If you wanted to claim on it, you had to go to Beijing."

Flynn Canada takes advantage of the Alberta Roofing Contractors Association (ARCA) Warranty Ltd. Warranty Certificate Program. Teal points out that while good design, quality materials, good workmanship and preventive maintenance result in durable roofs, an ARCA warranty ensures that the first three items are covered.

The association has provided warranties covering the workmanship of the roofing contractor since 1967. In 2009, the program expanded to five-, 10- and 15-year workmanship warranties against leaks. The expanded warranties apply to low-slope commercial roofing, steep-slope and architectural standing seam metal roofing. Systems and materials must be ARCA-accepted.

"This is a third-party, liability warranty," explains Trevor Sziva, marketing manager at ARCA. "The roofing contractor is obligated to repair defects due to workmanship in the roof assembly for the first two years." If the contractor does not fulfill that obligation, the organization arranges for another contractor to do the repair and, as the underwriter, covers the cost. ARCA Warranty Ltd. covers the remaining years of the warranty term against leaks.

Roofing contractors are able to provide clients with a warranty they can trust. In addition, Sziva says, manufacturer warranties typically cover proprietary materials only, even though the workmanship of the entire assembly plays a role in the future performance of the system.

An ARCA-accepted roofing inspector, hired by the building owner, conducts regular inspections throughout installation to ensure the contractor is following the standards ARCA has set for the different types of roof systems. These standards have been designed specifically for roofs in Alberta, providing peace of mind for contractors and their clients that the roof will perform in this province's conditions.

If you're interested in taking advantage of the benefits of ARCA's warranty program, you will have to prove that your company meets specific criteria in order to become an ARCA member. Roofing contractors must be licensed, employ journeymen roofers, and have a Certificate of Recognition for safety from the Alberta Construction Safety Association and a safety program that is routinely audited. As well, contractors have to be bondable and ensure that employees are trained and understand ARCA's installation standards.

Another selling feature contractors can use when talking to clients is ARCA's two-year anniversary inspection.

"ARCA Warranty Ltd. covers the cost of an evaluation of the system's performance and ensures that the workmanship is performing the way it should," Sziva says.

An independent roof inspector conducts the inspection and prepares a report for ARCA. Any roofing workmanship problems are reported to the roofing contractor who initially did the job; the contractor is responsible for fixing them.

"The ARCA warranty has credibility," Teal says. "From a contractor's point of view, that's the biggest benefit."

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