What's in a product warranty?

     What's really in a warranty?  When you painted your home, the paint manufacturer may have claimed a 25 year warranty.  When you chose your windows, did the sales rep claim a "lifetime" warranty?  Often these claims sound great on the sales floor, but there is a lot more in the fine print that is not discussed.  Should you expect the paint manufacturer to "make it right" by completely repainting your home in the 24th year if your paint is checked and peeling?

     If you take the time to read all of the fine print in the warranty, you will likely find one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Manufacturer will send their representative to investigate the warranty claim

  2. If the product is found defective, the manufacturer is only responsible to furnish a replacement product. The labor to remove and replace the product is your responsibility.

  3. The warranty is prorated after the first 5, 10 or 15 years.

  4. The product must be installed in accordance with manufacturers instructions

  5. You must be able to provide proof of purchase

     These clauses give the manufacturer plenty of places to declare themselves free of any warranty obligations.  If you do file a successful claim, the manufacturer typically only supplies a similar replacement product, no installation labor is included. I don't know many homeowners that will be satisfied with thirty bundles of new shingles sitting at the end of their driveway, when their 7 year old roof is leaking.

     So, if the manufacturer's warranty is so limited, what should you do?  First, build a good relationship with a reputable contractor.  Most states have statutes that set a minimum warranty period that a licensed contractor must warrant an installation for.  And quality contractors care about their reputation and serving their clients.

     Second, if you really want a comprehensive warranty, consider an extended warranty provided by a third party.  This coverage can cover the full installed cost of repairing the defect, or a portion of it.  It may come with a deductible that either the contractor or the homeowner must pay out.  It may also be pro-rated after a certain period of time.  This is almost like buying an insurance policy on the project.  Examples of companies that provide this type of service are Residential Warranty Company, LLC and Professional Warranty Service Corporation.

Kevin MassieComment