How Long Is Waterproofing Warranty?

How Long Is Waterproofing Warranty

The risk of water leakage and waterproofing systems is unfortunate foundation construction. Today, owners, designers, builders, and manufacturers are challenged by designing deep foundations in demanding groundwater conditions and considering constructing high-performing and dry structures. Unfortunately, these intentions are balanced with the reality that perfection in installing waterproofing is unrealistic, and some potential for leakage typically remains, particularly in conditions exposed to hydrostatic groundwater pressure.

Designers and owners are becoming more aware of the performance and quality limitations of below-grade waterproofing systems. Despite this understanding, there is a common misperception that any leakage remediation is covered as part of the manufacturer’s warranty. Over the years, manufacturers have been responding to this misperception, and the market’s desire for more comprehensive warranty coverage, by developing warranty options that can better align with project-specific expectations and liability management.

This paper discusses how warranties can affect projects, reviews typical warranty options and considerations, and outlines how warranties can be used to enhance project-appropriate performance and accountability. Check out our range of dual occupancy builder for your dream house.

A warranty is a written agreement promising a defined set of material and labour coverage for the below-grade waterproofing installation if proven defective. The performance characteristics that can trigger a warranty claim vary, depending on nuanced definitions of “leakage”. 

The responses of the at-risk party in the warranty agreement can also vary, from expedient repairs of readily apparent leakage to a detailed investigation and laboratory testing. The latter approach is sometimes taken to determine whether the materials comply with their intended physical properties, to allocate responsibility for the cost of repairs.

Some of the most common waterproofing warranty options include the following:

  • Materials Only – This is a limited warranty that covers the replacement of defective materials due to a material or manufacturing issue that caused leakage. This type of warranty does not cover costs for labour, access, or loss of operation. In most cases, there is no additional charge for this warranty.
  • Performance-based, with No Dollar Limit (NDL) and Limited Coverage Options – This warranty provides repair or replacement of materials as required to address the leakage. NDL includes all necessary costs required to fully address the leakage, whereas “limited” provides coverage up to a specific dollar amount, typically the overall material cost of the initial waterproofing installation. This type of warranty can require an incremental cost, manufacturer involvement during specific design and construction milestones, and additional construction phase work, including meetings, third-party inspections, and collaboration with the manufacturer. These costs can be substantial, are typically borne by the owner, and should be considered before construction.
  • Contractor Warranty – This warranty has a specific correction period, typically between one and five years, when the contractor should repair their work if it fails to perform. If the work is deficient beyond this period, the owner will have to rely on any remaining warranty from the manufacturer.
  • Implied Warranty – This includes warranties of merchantability and fitness, which state that a product is suitable for a particular purpose or application and that it assumes certain “common sense” conditions regarding quality and performance. These warranties are often an explicit exclusion in the manufacturer’s warranty language and should be mitigated through project-specific requirements, which are generally written into the specifications. These requirements may include review and written approval of the design and installation by the warranty.

Effective warranties help to define the expectations between the owner, designer, builder, and manufacturer. The practical intent to clarify responsibilities in the form of a written agreement can, at times, seemingly complicate the roles of involved parties due to the various scenarios to be considered. Some of the considerations include the following:

  • Manufacturer Validation and Ownership Approval: Some performance-based warranties require that the manufacturer review the design documents to validate intent to provide the specified warranty. Although this can add time to the schedule, it can provide additional coverage without implied warranties, as described above.
  • Construction Schedule: The additional effort and resources required to obtain a performance-based NDL warranty for below-grade waterproofing will impact the schedule and budget and must be weighed against the owner’s desire to have comprehensive coverage against leakage.
  • Triggers that Void Warranties: Various issues can void warranties, including change in building ownership, repairs performed by contractors that are not approved, use of materials or methods that are not approved, and lack of notification to the manufacturer before making repairs and within the specified time limit.
  • Collateral Damage: Labor and materials to repair interior finishes and other building systems, and costs associated with schedule impact or building operations, are not typically included in waterproofing warranties.
  • Repair Methodology: Most warranty repairs are performance-based. The materials and methods used to make the repairs are often directed by the at-risk party and installed based on their availability to complete the work. This can result in materials and systems that are inferior to those specified for the project and installation within a schedule that may differ from the Owner’s expectations.

The Misperception

How Long Is Waterproofing Warranty

Water leakage through foundations is typically related to breaches in the below-grade waterproofing system exposed to hydrostatic pressure, from high groundwater or lack of drainage outboard of the foundation. The breaches can be caused by some factors, including improper installation, trade damage after installation, building movements, material limitations and deterioration, or design-related issues.

The design of continuous below-grade waterproofing systems is often challenged by foundation elements, support of excavation, underpinning, and concrete forming systems, all of which may not consider waterproofing performance a primary driver to their design. 

Further, the installation of below-grade waterproofing systems is often compromised by the site conditions, including wet and soiled environments, fast-track schedules, insufficient coordination between trades, and the need for a nuanced understanding of the various waterproofing system properties. Repairing the below-grade waterproofing on existing buildings can be complicated, costly, and disruptive because, in most cases, membrane breaches cannot be exposed for repair.

Once leakage is identified, the owner will often contact the waterproofing installer and manufacturer to repair the leakage of the warranted assembly. All too often, the warranty agreement excludes the labour associated with addressing the leakage and may only provide the materials necessary to make repairs. 

The potential value of replacement waterproofing provided at no cost is typically offset by the much higher cost for permitting, access, excavation, loss of operation or disruption, and labour to repair the waterproofing installation. As a result, negative-side repairs (from the interior of the building) are often used to address the leakage, and the owner is accountable for the cost because it is not part of the warranty coverage.

To avoid the “misperception”, warranties must have a clear definition for what the warranty includes and define the triggering event. Ambiguities in the warranty language, and lack of full understanding of the language by the project team, are the main reasons why warranties can create a false sense of security.

Warranties do not replace the need for complete contract documents and proper installation that facilitate the owner’s project requirements. A foundation leak fully covered by a comprehensive warranty is not a substitute for a foundation that does not leak.

From a manufacturer’s standpoint, the more good warranties are business agreements that can provide an agreed-upon quality assurance program for the design and construction that will hold the manufacturer liable only if the product fails to perform when used as specifically intended. This can be a proactive way for the manufacturer to limit their exposure to the cost of repairs while also actively engaging with the project team to affect a positive outcome.

Success with Warranties

To avoid the “misperception”, warranties must have a clear definition for what the warranty includes and define the triggering event. Ambiguities in the warranty language, and lack of full understanding of the language by the project team, are the main reasons why warranties can create a false sense of security.

Warranties do not replace the need for complete contract documents and proper installation that facilitate the owner’s project requirements. A foundation leak fully covered by a comprehensive warranty is not a substitute for a foundation that does not leak.

From a manufacturer’s standpoint, the more good warranties are business agreements that can provide an agreed-upon quality assurance program for the design and construction that will hold the manufacturer liable only if the product fails to perform when used as specifically intended. This can be a proactive way for the manufacturer to limit their exposure to the cost of repairs while also actively engaging with the project team to affect a positive outcome.

From an ownership perspective, warranties establish an agreed-upon standard for the installation based on the owner’s project requirements and desired level of coverage. Following the completion of construction, the warranty provides the owner with a means to hold the manufacturer and installer accountable for their work should there be foundation leakage.

Similarly, from a design perspective, warranties should be viewed as an organised system to communicate an acceptable construction standard. The functional goal of a warranty, as it pertains to the design process, is to establish a set of expectations that reinforces the design intent. In this capacity, a warranty can help protect against unequal substitutions, sub-standard detailing, and variations in quality. Conversely, a warranty is not a substitute for sound design based on experience and engineering principles.

From a contractor’s standpoint, a comprehensive warranty program provides clear parameters for the project-specific installation requirements and engages the manufacturer to provide input throughout construction. In cases where the installer carries liability, it benefits the contractor to establish clear design intent, owner’s expectations, and warranty triggers before construction.

Warranties can open the lines of communication among the project team if properly implemented, and this can benefit all members of the project team. That said, warranties should be viewed as an owner-manufacturer business agreement whose terms should be negotiated, not as a standalone QA/QC program or a substitute for quality, project-specific design.

4 Types of Waterproofing Warranties

A waterproofing warranty is a legally binding agreement in which a company guarantees that some or all its work will be free of defects, typically for a specific length of time, and is formally approved and signed by both the owner of the project as well as a representative of the company manufacturing the product. 

A warranty provides for a remedy in case there are certain problems with the product provided to the customer. The intent is to provide peace of mind to the customer, ensure the product is backed by the company and is consistent with claims related to the performance and reliability of the product. 

If you purchase a waterproofing solution and later discover that it’s defective, you can file a claim with the company – assuming the waterproofing solution is still under warranty – to recoup some or all the cost related to the product. A warranty is essentially a company’s assurance that its product will live up to its claims.

There are different types of warranties used in the waterproofing industry. Whether you’re buying a waterproofing system for your business or home, you should familiarise yourself with the nuances of different warranties. Then you will be able to determine the appropriate warranty for your application. At MJS Construction Group, we offer a wide range of townhouse builders Melbourne.

Materials-Only Warranty

How Long Is Waterproofing Warranty

The most common type of warranty used in waterproofing and roofing is a Materials-only warranty. Typically ranging from 5-30 years, it’s a limited warranty that specifically covers the cost of materials in a waterproofing installation if those materials are proven to be defective. 

If a coating or other component of a waterproofing solution shows a failure within the warranty period, for example, a materials-only warranty will recover the cost of the failed product or repair/replacement by the manufacturer. Most companies do not charge supplemental fees for a materials-only warranty.

Labour and Materials Warranty

With a materials-only warranty, only the materials used in the waterproofing system are included as part of the warranty. A Labor and Materials warranty covers both the labour and materials of the waterproofing system, as the name suggests.

Typically, a contracting company installs a waterproofing system using coatings supplied by manufacturers. Depending on the scope of the project, it may take them several days to complete the project. A longer installation increases the risk of water damage to the project. The contractor must provide an estimated date of completion. 

If the contractor failed to install a waterproof membrane properly, and the installation is still within the warranty period, then a Labor and Materials warranty can be utilised to recover the cost of both the labour and the materials used in the project. In this case, the manufacturer covers the cost of the materials used, while the contractor will be responsible for the labour.

Labour and Materials with Overburden Warranty

Some waterproofing companies offer a warranty including both replacements of Labor and Materials with an exhaust warranty. Similar in scope to the Labor and Material warranty, its warranty covers both the Labor and materials associated with a waterproofing system. 

In addition, the Overburden portion of the warranty covers costs associated with removing and replacing the defective product, including any ancillary products used over the waterproofing system.

Waterproofing installations are often installed under tile or other hard floorings. Under only a Labor and Material warranty, if a membrane fails, the client is responsible for paying to remove and replace the tile or flooring. This, of course, can be expensive, especially if the membrane covers a large area. 

A Labor and Material warranty, with overburden addition, will cover the entire cost of replacing the membrane, including removing and installing new tile or flooring, “overburden.” In this regard, Labor and Material warranties with overburden is a more comprehensive warranty and provides greater coverage than the waterproofing warranties listed above.

NDL Warranty (“No Dollar Limit”)

When reading the fine print of limited waterproofing warranties, you’ll discover that most have a maximum claim amount. If the cost to replace a defective product is greater than this amount, you may have to pay the difference. 

A limited roofing warranty, for instance, may cover up to $5,000. But if the actual cost to replace the defective roof is $7,500, the client will face a $2,500 bill. Therefore, some home and business owners prefer an NDL or “no dollar limit” warranty.

An NDL warranty is a contract that covers costs associated with repairing or replacing the defective waterproofing system. Unlike limited warranties, it has no maximum coverage amount. Whether it costs $500 or $50,000 to fix the defective waterproofing solution, an NDL warranty guarantees that the company will pay for it.

Keep in mind that many companies charge an incremental fee for NDL warranties. The longer the NFL coverage, the more you’ll have to pay. As time progresses and the risk of failure increases, these companies will likely increase the ongoing prices of their NDL warranties.

Summary

Warranties for waterproofing systems help define the expectations among the members of the project team and can improve the standard of the design and construction. Owners, designers, builders, and manufacturers are gaining a better understanding of the performance expectations with below-grade waterproofing systems, and manufacturers continue to revise their warranty options to align project-specific expectations better and manage their liability. Looking for home builders? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered.

If employed thoughtfully and in tandem with adequate construction documents and competent construction phase services, warranties can be a very effective tool to meet the owner’s project requirements. Project teams must also recognise the limitations of warranties, which are ultimately business agreements that should enhance project requirements, to avoid the common misperception.

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