06 June 2024

Guarantees and their importance to the built environment

What makes a great product guarantee?

When looking for roofing and cladding material solutions, you will likely be overwhelmed by manufacturers offering their own product guarantees with unique promises of performance. But how do you know if a guarantee is a good one? Here, Dr Peter Barker, Manager – New Product Development from Tata Steel, explores product guarantees in more detail, including what to look out for and how to ensure they meet the client’s expectations. 

Steel roofing and cladding systems are a popular choice for building envelopes, offering contemporary aesthetics, design flexibility and ease of maintenance. However, it is equally important that the material the systems are manufactured from can withstand the test of time, especially when you consider their application on the exposed exterior of a building. 

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In fact, product durability is an integral element of the efficiency of any building envelope. By utilising durable and reliable materials, you can reduce maintenance costs in the long run, as well as minimise disruption to the building occupants and operations. External aspects need to be considered when choosing material for the building envelope, as the durability is often dependent on the material’s ability to withstand different environmental conditions, such as sunlight, water, and oxygen. Buildings in coastal areas, for example, are subject to even more demanding conditions, having to contend with abrasive elements such as wind-blown sand and airborne salt. Products that offer enhanced durability can also play an important role in reducing the embodied carbon within the use stage of a building’s lifespan.

This is where guarantees can come into play. Primarily designed to offer building owners confidence in the product they have purchased, they also serve as a strong demonstration of a product’s performance, being one of the most powerful commitments and statements that a business can make to the market. The quality and content of the guarantee is key when comparing products, with several factors to consider.

How long does the guarantee last?

First to consider is the length of the guarantee period. Generally speaking, the longer the guarantee period, the higher the product quality and durability. Manufacturers who offer guarantees that span decades, will generally only do so if they have substantial confidence in their product. This being said, don’t forget to check the fine print of the guarantee to see if the duration is dependent upon certain clauses or restrictions.

As well as the guarantee itself, also consider the manufacturer offering the guarantee, including its product expertise, sustained evolution and the comprehensive testing incorporated into its products.

Reading the fine print

It goes without saying that it is also important to delve into the detail of the guarantee, looking beyond the headline figure of the coverage length. Take a step-back and ensure you fully understand the terms and conditions, such as maintenance and inspection requirements through the life of the building.

Exclusions and limitations

Some guarantees can contain various exclusions and limitations; all of which could potentially have a limiting effect on the extent of cover provided or even be indicative of the technical performance or limitations of the product. One common restriction imposed on product guarantees could be the building’s location and definition of the external environment, with exposure to sunlight, extreme weather and coastal environments all external factors which can affect pre-finished steel over time. Consider looking for a product where the guarantee still offers comprehensive protection, regardless of location or the corrosion classification of the environment.

PV Roof

The latest revision of Approved Document Part L in 2022 focuses strongly on a fabric first approach as a cost-effective way of saving carbon and delivering energy efficiency over the whole building’s life. By constructing a durable, energy efficient and Photovoltaic (PV) ready building envelope, you can future proof the building, allowing PVs to be installed or extended at any stage. As a result, it’s important to select a guarantee that is ‘PV ready’ – without impacting on the cover or duration of the guarantee.

Building product guarantees are undeniably an important part of the construction industry, providing assurances of a product’s quality and performance. When choosing a pre-finished steel product for your next project, it is vital that the detail of the guarantee is fully understood and taken into consideration. By doing so, you can avoid potentially costly complications further down the line and ensure that the building meets the expectations of the client, with high performance and durability.  

At Tata Steel, the market-leading Confidex® Guarantee offers up to 40-years protection, available on Colorcoat HPS200 Ultra® and Colorcoat Prisma® pre-finished steel products for industrial and commercial buildings, when registered online. Uniquely offered in the market for over 30 years, the Confidex® Guarantee is refreshingly straightforward. It is offered direct to the building owner, with the ability to be transferred in the event of a change of ownership; it offers full rectification in the unlikely event of coating failure; and is applicable in coastal locations, defined as being within 1km of any coast. It’s also PV ready, with no reduction in the guarantee period, allowing clip and fix PV frame modules to be added at any point in the future.

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