What makes a good building product guarantee, and do you understand them? Ian Peters, Building Services Manager at Tata Steel, delves into the detail.
Guarantees are a common feature of modern-day life; but when it comes to the purchase of building materials, such as metal roof and wall cladding systems, do you know what you’re looking for?
A guarantee is one of the most powerful commitments that a business can make to demonstrate faith in their products’ performance. They are often used to help boost customer confidence in a product or service, as well as providing reassurance that, should a purchase not perform as intended, it will be rectified accordingly.
But do you actually understand the detail behind the formal assurance? Guarantees may often be presented without a thorough explanation of the accompanying terms and conditions, making it common for there to be confusion around what is actually covered by the guarantee.
Navigating the market
As a self-builder, you may often find yourself presented with a myriad of different building products and services to choose from. As a result, deciding which to specify and install on your new home can be a difficult decision.
Pre-finished steel, and steel cladding systems, in particular, are becoming a popular building material, now often installed on modern residential developments. Favoured for its clean and contemporary design lines, pre-finished steel also provides the opportunity to further customise the external appearance of your new home, in terms of colours and other aesthetic effects.
By having an understanding of guarantees and knowing what to look out for, you will be able to carefully identify those building products and systems produced with high-quality materials, and a promise of durability and long-lasting performance.
Good product indicators
A good initial indicator of a building product’s expected performance is often the length of guarantee offered. As explained above, a guarantee is, in many ways, a demonstration of a manufacturer’s confidence in its own products. A long-length guarantee would therefore not only provide you with longer protection against potential problems that may arise but also offers additional assurance in terms of the product’s quality. For example, a steel standing-seam roof and wall cladding system that is accompanied by a 25-year material guarantee from the manufacturer would likely deliver an indication of its long-term performance.
What’s more, you should also be careful to examine a product’s guarantee in terms of any potential exclusions and limitations, as these could negatively affect the extent of the cover provided and may even be indicative of product weaknesses. A common restriction that can be imposed on some metal roof guarantees is the building location; for exposure to sunlight, extreme weather or coastal environments are all critical external factors that can affect pre-finished steel over time. You should therefore ensure that you specify a material where the same comprehensive guarantee is offered irrespective of where the product is installed (roof or walls) or where the home is situated, meaning that you are free to build your new home wherever you please, without concern over whether the cover will be affected.
Who is your guarantee with?
Another factor to consider is who your guarantee will actually be with. Some building product guarantees can often be passed down through the contractual supply chain, from manufacturer to contractor to homeowner, each with their own set of terms and conditions, meaning that in the event of a claim the owner would have to navigate back through to the origins of the supply chain. This could result in a highly complex and time-consuming process. Instead, you should look for a product where the agreement is directly between the manufacturer and the homeowner, making any potential claim straightforward and transparent, but is also fully transferable in the event of a house sale. This may sound like an obvious tick box but guarantees can sometimes be non-transferable. In addition, any consumer guarantees should be written to meet the requirements of consumer law.
It is undeniable that building product guarantees are an important part of any self-build project, providing you with the assurance that your home is built to last, with high-quality, robust materials. Before specifying any product, you should first delve into the detail of its guarantee, using it to assess the material’s reliability and performance; as well as making sure that you understand what the manufacturer is promising.