Natural slate – when reputation and integrity counts

As SIGA Slate marks its 10th anniversary, Amanda Green, marketing manager, takes a look at why reputation and integrity count for everything when it comes to specifying natural slate.

Natural slate is a popular choice when building new homes. As well as aesthetics and durability, the carbon footprint of natural slate also compares well with other roofing materials – particularly when the life expectancy of the finished roof is considered. This reduced environmental impact makes it an even more attractive choice for new build projects.

When specifying slate roofs for new homes, there’s a long list of factors to consider – the type of slate, natural or man-made, colour, size and texture etc. Warranties and the cost of the slate will also be a key consideration. However, what is highly unlikely to feature on the selection criteria list is the reputation and integrity of the company that supplies the actual slate.

In a competitive and challenging market place, it’s easy for housebuilders to be tempted by the cheapest products that are made even more appealing with their super extended warranties. But are these warranties worth the paper they are written on, if further down the line, the company decides to cease trading or the supply chain breaks down? If just one link becomes broken and a trading company goes into liquidation, then the housebuilder could be left with no back up – not even from the parent group. During the recession, it became commonplace for companies to be wound up voluntarily across many market sectors and the natural slate market didn’t escape unscathed. While some companies disappeared without trace, others re-emerged trading under a new name, supplying the same products.

While housebuilders may not have felt any immediate impact from this re-registration, the real damage may still hit home if a warranty claim needs to be made. No matter what the longevity of the warranty – and some slate suppliers are offering 100 years – when a company goes into liquidation, the warranty can disappear too. The only recourse is to seek legal action, a timely and costly exercise at best, and the onus is very much on the housebuilder.

As the housebuilding sector becomes buoyant once again, the likelihood of suppliers experiencing challenges with cashflow becomes more real when faced with a sudden surge in business.

But how do you safeguard against a company going into liquidation, leaving you without valid warranties and after-sales service? Quite simply, when selecting your slate, you have to consider the reputation and credibility of your supplier. More than ever before, this is the barometer of confidence in your purchase. Reputation and integrity count for everything, and if problems surface further down the line, and support becomes necessary, these attributes will far outweigh the savings you may have made by sourcing cheaper products.

Pick a natural slate supplier that is in it for the long term, and who is financially sound. The origin of the products they supply is important too. For example, if you are buying breather membrane or tiles that are manufactured in the UK and the merchant goes into liquidation or re-registers its company name, you will have some legal protection from the manufacturer under British law. However, when it comes to imported products, seeking redress via the European courts can be tricky in the event of a claim, as proving the source of origin can often be practically impossible.

Select suppliers that offer robust warranties and case histories, who have invested in their suppliers and supply chain, and who are in it for the long term. More importantly, consider investing in premium branded slate, where all warranties will be honoured, even if the slate quarry that supplies the slate ceases to produce. Never be fooled by “lifetime” warranties. Regardless of duration, once the company ceases to exist, so too does the warranty. Natural slate is a premium product and you can’t afford to cut corners. So, protect yourself and your business by considering the reputation and integrity of your supplier the next time you are specifying natural slate.

See this feature in the June issue of Housebuilder & Developer here
To see the other features in this issue, visit the Magazine Archive