Warranties and Service Agreements

December 2021

Unlike life, building systems come with protections in the form of warranties and service agreements.  They help ease the pain when something fails to work as expected.

This is a form of insurance to keep things working.


A warranty is a manufacturer-provided written guarantee to a purchaser promising to repair or replace within a specified period of time.  It is a seller’s promise that an item is being sold as represented.  A failed or failing item will be repaired or replaced regardless of cost.

Warranties for major building systems can last for ten or 20 years.  Major systems include boilers, windows and roofs.

Manufacturer warranties typically repair or replace parts if something breaks down within a specified period of time.  Labour may not be included, particularly when installation is handled by an independent contractor.  Installation-related costs may be covered by a separate contractor warranty offered by the company handling installation.

Manufacturer and contractor warranties are desirable for a condo corporation.  Where possible it is best to obtain both warranties from the manufacturer.  This provides protection should a contractor go out of business and be unable to service their warranty.  For major systems the best warranties cover a 20-year period for major systems.

Terms and Conditions represent warranty limitations.  They may identify length of coverage inclusive of start and end dates.

Good warranties should include a notice provision – how to communicate on matters pertaining to the warranty – and exclusions.  Exclusions identify what a warranty does not cover.  For elevators or boilers, not all parts may be covered by the warranty.  Other items may not be covered for misuse or vandalism.  A roof not intended for resident access may not be covered for damage from foot traffic.  Damage caused by employees and certain specific actions may entirely void a warranty.

Service Agreements

Service agreements differ from warranties in that they are not resulting from the purchase of equipment.  In high-rise communities this is generally an agreement between two parties to complete maintenance for certain equipment for a period of time.  Service agreements may be offered or sought at the time equipment is purchased or at a later date.

Service agreements are common for elevators, HVAC systems and other equipment requiring regular maintenance.  Some warranties require service agreements to remain valid.