Home & Garden Maintenance & Repairs

A Costly Roofing Repair Lesson

Typically, it's the individual homeowner or the small business owner who has to contend with roofing repair headaches. Even mega corporations and major cities, however, are not immune from roofing issues. A good case in point is communications conglomerate Time Warner Cable and its home town.

According to WCNC out of Charlotte, North Carolina, the Time Warner Arena "needs a roof repair due to an ongoing water leak problem." How much is that roofing repair going to cost the media and entertainment company? Nothing, but it will cost the city of Charlotte a cool $500,000 in labor bills. Ouch!

Why such a hefty price tag? Because according to officials, "most labor isn't covered by the warranty." City engineers who designed the arena and the contractors who built it underestimated how long the roof would last. In fact, it hasn't lasted anywhere near the 15 years experts had predicted it would.

In particular, the "highest, rounded part" to the roof is in dire need of a roofing repair. Its "thin sheet of plastic," which was "meant to keep water out" has deteriorated to the point that it keeps leaking. And while the plastic manufacturer has been cooperative about ameliorating the leaks, their stopgap measures have resulted in only temporary fixes.

To make matters worse, while the roof is still under contract, "the contractor... has been very good about repairing the leaks, but it hasn't been performed satisfactorily from our perspective or theirs," a Charlotte city engineer chagrined. As a result, the roofing repair will add 23.8% to the $2.1 million already spent on installing the roof.

Are Charlotte and Time Warner falling victim to a roofing scam? Maybe, maybe not. After all, no matter how long the roof was guaranteed to last, it does neither the team who plays at the arena nor those who earn money from team sales any good if the roof continues to under-perform. Sometimes, it's just more cost effective over the long run to swallow the added costs of a roofing repair job done right than it is to continue losing money from downtime and unplanned closures.

According to Maintenance Solutions, few managers-in fact a full 99.9%-do not even bother to completely read their roofing warranties before signing on the dotted line. One expert pointed out, "They don't know if it covers materials, materials and labor, or is a no-dollar-limit warranty."

A no dollar limit warranty places no penal sum or limitations on the monetary responsibility of the roofing company. As a result, it's most favorable to the roof owner and places the greatest burden of responsibility on the roofing contractor. With a $2.1 million dollar roof, this is the type of warranty the Time Warner Arena should have carried.

If Charlotte didn't institute a no dollar limit warranty when the arena's roof was installed, the city may have no recourse. That's because "Warranties are not intended to be commercial insurance policies in the conventional sense." It's the manufacturers of roofing materials who generally issue the warranties, which might explain the city's luck with the plastic manufacturer. "In some cases... the roofing contractor provides a warranty for workmanship and a materials-only warranty from the manufacturer." In that case, as long as the plastic sheet was properly installed, the roofing repair is no longer the contractor's responsibility.

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