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Posted by McElroy Metal ● Nov 3, 2020 8:00 AM

Are Weathertightness Warranties Worth the Money?

Grand Hall at Westlake Indianapolis, IN 138T Shingle RecoverA Weathertightness Warranty (WTW) is intended to be an assurance from a metal roofing manufacturer that a newly installed standing seam roof will not leak for a specified period of time.  They are most often used on municipal and commercial projects where a specification has been created by either an architect or design building professional. While WTW’s can certainly offer protection, they can also cause a great deal of confusion and add cost to the overall project budget. 

At first blush many folks think all Weathertightness Warranties (WTW) work the same; however, nothing could be further from the truth.  Instead, there are actually many different types of Weather Tight Warranties.  

If you’re considering specifying a Weathertightness Warranty on a project, it’s important to understand some basic terminology to ensure both you and your owner receive the expected protection.  

weathertightness-coversThere are five main components to a Weathertightness Warranty:

  1. Warrantied Systems
  2. Involved Parties
  3. Warranty Length
  4. Warranty Liability Limits
  5. Optional Coverages

Warrantied Products

Weathertightness Warranties are available for only selected panel styles.  As a rule of thumb you can expect to see exposed fastener systems excluded from WTW offerings.  Instead, they are more commonly available for concealed fastener style standing seam panels that are installed to predetermined minimum roof slopes.  While most reputable manufacturers (McElroy included) offer standard availability guidelines on their websites, it’s always best to reach out and discuss your project specifics to ensure that a warranty will be offered.

Involved Parties

Joint Warranty: As the name implies, these warranties split liability between the panel installer and the panel manufacturer.  In these types of warranties, the contractor is typically responsible for the first two years of leak-free service. Once two consecutive years of leak-free service have been achieved, then the manufacturer is responsible for the remaining warranty term. It is important to note that the manufacturer's warranty doesn’t begin until two years of leak-free service have been achieved under the contractor portion.  

Pros:

  • Most economical WTW

Cons:

  • No manufacturer protection exists until two years consecutive leak free service has been achieved by the contractor. As long as the installing contractor remains in business and services the warranty, this becomes a mute point.

Single Source Warranty: Unlike the Joint Warranty just discussed, the single source warranty places full responsibility on the manufacturer from day one for the project weather tightness.

Pros:

  • Manufacturer responsibility from day one can lead to greater peace of mind.
  • Greater involvement from manufacturers in contractor selection, training and approval of job specific details can net (but doesn’t guarantee) a better quality install.

Cons:

  • Higher warranty cost
  • Manufacturers may limit this warranty to specific contractors with proven experience, training etc.  When this occurs, it can frustrate contractors that want to bid the project but are unable to gain manufacturer support. 

Warranty Length

As you would expect, warranty length refers to the length of the warranty coverage.  Most reputable manufacturers offer lengths ranging from 5-25 years although 20 years is the most common warranty length. Warranty length and cost are directly related. As the warranty length increases, the cost of the warranty also increases.  

Warranty Liability Limits

The third element of a Weathertightness Warranty (WTW) is the dollar amount of protection provided.  Most reputable manufacturers offer various limits ranging from as little as .08 sq ft on the low end to what is often referred to as no dollar limit or no repair limit on the high end with many levels in between.  As the coverage provided by the warranty  increases, so too does the cost of the warranty.  

A word of caution on warranty limits: when specifications call for a “manufacturer's standard weathertightness warranty”, it’s not uncommon for some manufacturers to bid the lowest amount of coverage possible.  While this practice can help them win the project with a low bid, as you can imagine, it often leads to frustration after the fact. Instead of using the term “standard,” the best approach when writing your specification and including a WTW is to specify the coverage amount desired per square foot.  

Optional Coverages

The final element of manufacturer supplied WTW’s involves optional coverages. For example, most manufacturers exclude coverage for excessive wind speed and penetrations from their base warranty. And instead charge additional fees to include them in the warranty coverage. In order to avoid unexpected coverage gaps, it’s always best to request a Weathertight Warranty sample document from any manufacturer included in your specification.  

Summary

So are weather tightness warranties worth the additional cost? Only you and your owner can decide that. As you consider the question, remember this:  properly installed metal roofs don’t leak. So as a manufacturer with the most robust certification training in our industry, we prefer to see you save the warranty money and instead include a tightly written contractor experience section in the specifications. But much like purchasing an extended warranty on a new refrigerator or automobile, it’s really a personal decision.  

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Do I need to have my project pre-approved to ensure a WTW is available?

Yes.  Pre-approval is required during the bidding stage and must be completed before any materials are ordered or installation begins.

2. If so, what is the pre-approval process?

Submit roofing specifications and drawings (architectural preferred) via email to wtw@mcelroymetal.com

3. Are installers required to complete a certification process before a warranty will be issued?

Contractor certification is required for all Single Source and No Repair Limit (NRL) warranty levels. Additionally, if the specifications require the contractor to be certified, certification is required regardless of the warranty type.  

4. What are the inspection requirements for a Weathertightness Warranty.

The number and timing of inspections will be set during the pre-approval stage based on the building complexity and warranty requirements.  The guidelines will be communicated on the returned pre-approval form.

5. Are penetrations included automatically?

No. Coverage for penetrations must be requested during the pre-approval stage and carries an additional cost.

6. What is the biggest difference between a “Joint” and “Single Source Warranty?”

A “Single Source Warranty” is designed to protect the owner from installation errors made by the installer. Coverage for a “Single Source Warranty” is assumed by the manufacturer from day one of installation where the installer is responsible for the first two years of coverage with a “Joint” warranty.  

7. Is a review of shop drawings required?

Yes. Prior to ordering any material, completed shop drawings must be submitted and approved by our Weathertightness Warranty Department. Drawings can be submitted via email to wtw@mcelroymetal.com.  If requested, McElroy Metal will produce the shop drawings for an additional fee. When McElroy Metal prepares the shop drawings, the review step is automatically incorporated and no additional steps are required by the installer.

8. What is the process when project specifications require a “certified”  and “qualified” installer?

Material cannot be ordered until both the certification and qualification processes have been completed. Learn more about our “certification” program here and contact your local McElroy Metal representative for assistance to become a “qualified” installer.

If you still have questions about Weathertightness Warranties or if you’d like some help writing your specification to ensure you’re covered, Contact Us.  We’re happy to help.

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About McElroy Metal

Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 13 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.

Topics: Metal Roofing, FAQ

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