Warranties for products are simple to understand, most people might think. You go to the store, buy a computer or a DVD player or a TV, or even a larger appliance like a refrigerator, and you get a piece of paper describing a one-year or two-year warranty, and what’s covered. Sometimes, for some extra money, you can get an extended warranty for another year or so.
But what if the item in question is not a personal appliance, but a huge building component that you’re purchasing in large numbers from a contractor? What if you’re purchasing, for your co-op or condo, a roof tank, pumps, a new roof, a new series of convectors for a central HVAC system, or mechanical parts for an elevator?
Surely, the technology in items like these is more complex than your laptop. Also, in addition to the manufacturer, there is usually now a third party—the contractor. Still, a warranty must be given. How do warranties work for such large items, and what do you, as a co-op or condo board member, committee member or manager, need to know?
Gregg Wallick, president of Best Roofing Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, says one difference between the warranties on small, personal items like the aforementioned laptop versus much bigger components like a roof is maintenance requirements. “So many people confuse their roof warranty with their insurance policy. People get a leak and they think ‘I have a warranty, let me make a call,’” he says. “Every roof warranty that is written by every manufacturer is going to have certain maintenance requirements that need to take place. Especially when you are dealing with a flat roof of a commercial nature, in many of those cases they usually use the roof as a depository for mechanical equipment like exhaust fans, air conditioners, skylights, bathroom fans. All of those things require maintenance and in the process of that maintenance sometimes the roof gets compromised. So whoever is issuing the warranty will require the owner to do inspections and maintenance and that doesn’t happen with smaller items.”
Wallick also stresses the importance of reading the fine print on warranties for large components because if maintenance requirements aren’t met the warranty could be considered null and void.