As any good home inspector does, there I was explaining to my client that his particular roof style typically lasts 15-20 years. As the old adage goes, no good deed goes unpunished. The realtor comes storming out and says “Oh! its not a 25 year roof?” After I explained that it did not appear to be a 25 year roof, she insisted that it must be a 20 year roof. I knew what she was getting at, so again I explained that the typical life span for the roof was 15-20 years. She then asked “Well who makes a 15 year roof?” It was apparent to me that she wanted her client to believe that the roof would last at a minimum, 20 years.
Most roofing companies label their roofs 20, 25, 35 or even lifetime roofs. So what happens if your 20 year roof leaks on year 11?
Well lets start with the first two years. Roofing manufacturers do not cover installation defects. If the roof leaks in the first 2 years, the manufacturer will insist it was the fault of the roofer. You probably won’t get a penny from the manufacturer.
From what I can tell, if your roof fails between 2-5 years the manufacturer will cover the repairs/replacement. Yay for you!
On a typical 20 year roof the wind warranty only lasts 5-10 years. Most algae warranties only last 5-10 years. Many manufacturers include a limiter that ambiguously states that if your attic/roof deck is poorly insulated and ventilated, the warranty is only for 10 years. So if your roof leaks at year 11 because of wind; algae, moss, or lichens; or you have a poorly ventilated roof deck. You will get a whopping $0.
Ok. Lets say the manufacturer can’t pin the blame on someone, or something. Their payout is prorated. After year 10 they will only pay 50% of the cost they feel is fair replace your roof. To me, this translates as, We believe the roof is 50% more likely to leak after 10 years. So at year 11, if you manage to get anything at all you will get half of the cost to replace your roof; at year 15, you will only get 25%
There are many more disclaimers and limiters that manufacturers use, but I think you get the point.
A final word to the wise, it is prudent to get a 30+ year roof.