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November - December 2003

Laws, 
Legislation &
Litigation

by Alan Goldberg

While the cliché “location, location, location” generally applies to choosing a home, it could be just as appropriate for selecting the site of an association meeting. Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley, the Silverado Resort, with its southern-style mansion and manicured grounds, offered an idyllic setting for the 250 guests who attended the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) summer meeting held August 9-12. Following are some of the highlights.

Thinking (And Acting) Strategically
Offering his own definition of strategy, Dr. “Robin” Dorff clarified many misconceptions in the session, “Applying Military Thinking to Manufacturing Strategies.” 

“There is nothing more incorrect than viewing strategy as a plan. It is not a blueprint to be rigidly followed. It is not a model to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’,” said the chairman of the Department of National Security and Strategy at the U.S. Army War College. 

Dorff added that strategy is about ends (objectives), means (resources) and ways (concepts). There are no right or wrong answers. There are better or worse answers.

“How you are organized goes a long way in how you strategize. Strategy is about knowing who your competitors are and what they can do to prevent you from achieving a position in the marketplace,” he said. Part of good strategy is to avoid the ‘oops’ factor. ‘Oops, I never thought of that.’”

Industry Standards vs Government Intervention 
Keynote speaker Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and former presidential candidate, talked about the government’s role in affecting industry standards. His message to WDMA members was to continue to establish and update standards because the government relies on industry and is not going to interfere. 

“No government agency can turn out a standard in less than ten years unless there is an emergency. Since 1977, there has been no congressional interest in industry standards,” he said. 

Nader raised the question of how industry can improve when there is no fear of litigation or government involvement. He said there has been criticism that industry standards become part of codes without any government interest. His rules for the establishment of a standards committee (to address the criticism) is to include full participation by consumers, small businesses and interested parties. 

Codes, Standards, Laws and Litigation 
Focusing on the new California construction defect law, SB 800, Nick Cammarota, general counsel for the California Building Industry Association, gave examples of how manufacturers, as suppliers of a component, could be affected by litigation and how to handle certain litigation issues. 

“In a California Supreme Court ruling this year, if you are a manufacturer of a component part and installed product, you will continue to be subject to strict liability,” said Cammarota, who pointed out that windows and doors are listed in SB 800 as component parts. 

“Be specific about the installation of your product. Include conditions for installation. Detailed information (that clarifies the use of a product) will be very helpful should there be a defect problem,” he added. 
Cammarota suggested that in the right-to-repair process, the manufacturer must address every issue with the builder and installer. He mentioned that the right to repair is different from the 18 to19 states that have right-to-repair laws. 

“You have the right to repair a defect, but if the repair fails, you are subject to a lawsuit,” he warned. 
Construction litigation in California is very complex. Every party involved must have its own counsel and each counsel can question all parties. Cammarota reviewed functionality standards and some examples relating to windows and doors. 

“Functionality standards are not building codes. Read each one carefully, and understand its meaning,” he advised. 

Regarding the timeliness of repairs, he cautioned, “If you blow a deadline, you could lose your right to repair.”

Mike Fisher, WDMA director of codes and regulatory compliance, provided a summary of door codes along the West Coast. 

“The International Building Code (IBC) is relying more heavily on reference standards,” he said. “The challenge is to get standards correlated with codes.”

Bob Raymer, technical director for the California Building Industry Association, pointed out some proposed revisions to the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards. For example, the default values for fenestration (windows, skylights and glazed doors), U-values and solar heat gain coefficients will be updated to agree with the recently revised National Fenestration Rating Council test procedures.

Raymer also provided an update on tax credits for energy-efficient home construction. According to a recent National Association of Homebuilders briefing, the Senate has passed comprehensive energy legislation that includes numerous building incentives.

WDMA Update
In his president’s report, Alan Campbell mentioned the following accomplishments of the WDMA: a successful technical conference that took place in May; the progress of the technical review; a new website which was launched in mid-March; standards that are being revised and will be loaded onto the website; and an update on legislative activity. 

Three standards are being revised and will soon be on the website:

• IS 1-A Architectural Flush Doors;

• IS 4 Treatments and Coatings; and

• IS 10 Composite Materials.

Legislative activity is being monitored at the state level. Twenty-two states either have or will be passing right-to-cure legislation. (The status of each bill including “Notice and Opportunity to Repair” was included in an informative packet of material.)

Door Installation
Bradley Oberg, chief technology officer of IBACOS (a research and consulting firm for builders) and Mark Mason, president of APCO Window and Door, discussed the installation of doors. Both stressed that installation training is invaluable.

“Three hours on a Saturday will save endless hours of headaches,” said Oberg who reviewed interior and exterior door requirements. These included (for exterior doors):

• Drain water effectively from the weather face of the door;

• Manage bulk water from the building façade;

• Control water penetration in jamb areas;

• Weep the sill and provide adequate gasketing; and

• Secure the frame to the building to resist forced entry.

Security
Jeff Shilakis, president of HOPPE North America, outlined trends in security in the United States and Europe for residential and light commercial properties.
 
“The world has changed and security is playing a greater role in key decisions. The urban/suburban sprawl is providing greater security,” he said. 

Shilakis described hardened targets that entail stronger windows and frames, stronger windows and stronger hardware. He mentioned that insurance companies could drive higher security by having higher deductibles in high crime unless there is greater security in place. 

How Distributors Are Changing
Distributors have been affected by change and the way business is conducted according to Steve Ellinwood, president/CEO of Building Material Distributors. 

“Globalization is driving a lot of the change. With the electronic age, location, which used to be an advantage, is hardly a factor,” he said. “Survival requires value-added services, rapid replacement, just-in-time delivery and new ways to track orders. Distributors must find ways to distinguish themselves. New organizational skills are needed to operate more effectively.”

In the perfect setting, the summer session of WDMA offered insights into many relevant issues from legal and legislative to standards and codes to door security and installation. The next meeting will take place in Phoenix, February 21-25, 2004.

Editor’s Note: Portions of this article had to be deleted due to space constraints. For the full meeting report, go to www.doorandwindowmaker.com



Alan Goldberg is a contributing writer for DWM. He has more than 30 years of experience in the insulating glass market. 

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