Will the cost-of-living crisis affect warranties and guarantees?
We all know there is a cost-of-living crisis. We all know that we will have to pay more for materials and labour. We all know that simply delivering materials is becoming a logistical nightmare with fuel costs going through the roof – but could there be another casualty from all this? One that could seriously affect warranties and guarantees for a generation.
Companies such as Proteus Waterproofing provide comprehensive warranties based on BBA certified products and systems being installed by highly trained, approved contractors. Those warranties are structured on the knowledge that the end client will maintain that project in the best possible condition.
But what happens when budgets are cut and costs are soaring? It is human nature for many to cut back on maintenance – to leave it for another year – to hold back until the economic climate begins to improve again.
Failure to maintain could totally negate the terms of any guarantee, but in a tough cost of living crisis there are those that will consider it a risk worth taking, especially when margins are being squeezed.
We are already seeing evidence of end clients cutting back on refurbishment projects with some building owners opting to do the bare minimum when it comes to roof repairs. It means that more are choosing not to install a new roof, even when this would be the best solution as it usually involves upgrading insulation levels to meet current building regulations, resulting in higher costs.
While such responses are understandable, it is also worrying as in an increasing number of cases, building owners are still choosing to use cheaper alternatives at a time when the Government is trying to reduce the carbon footprint.
Insurance companies are also beginning to take notice because while repairs will stop a roof from leaking, building owners who do not respond to the spirit of the new building regulations risk the potential for future latent defects such as condensation.
Because the building owner has chosen not to upgrade insulation levels or correct other latent defects highlighted in the original survey, any guarantee comes with a host of “get out of jail free clauses.”
In short, the projected life of the roof could be affected. It means that any guarantee is void should a future failure be the result of any of the defects that the company previously highlighted.
Companies that are unable to supply recognised guarantees and warranties, understandably fail to get the business. Responsible building owners insist on them, and in some cases they demand the extra peace of mind of an insurance backed guarantee – but none of it is worth the paper it is written on if the client fails to meet the conditions.
If you drive a car that is unroadworthy or does not have an MOT then it is very likely that the insurance company will decline to pay out in the event of an accident. The waterproofing and roofing sectors are no different – so why take the risk?
We all know that the majority of new contract work is usually won on price. In an ideal world, quality would be more important, but we are still a long way off from achieving that in the majority of cases.
Against such a background it is inevitable that building owners will continue to cut costs wherever they can, which means that thousands of buildings across the UK will be at risk of having guarantees that are simply worthless.
This might sound like alarmist talk but all of us involved in any area of construction, know what happens when something fails. Aggrieved building owners are then quick to blame the contractor or manufacturer, but they have to realise that they too have a responsibility to make sure they have met all of the terms and conditions.
Those buildings will still be there long after this cost-of-living crisis is over, and that’s when it is very possible that building owners will regret the day they decided to cut back. Is it really worth the risk?