June 2006                 Volume 45,  Issue 5

     The Window Guy

A Look at What Our Industry Needs 
by R. Mark Reasbeck

As owner of my company, one of the chores I have to do, and hate to do, is to review and sign contracts. You know what they look like—41 pages that really should say, “We are contracting you to sell us windows, and after you deliver them complete and on time, we agree to pay you.” (Isn’t this the essence of our business?) 

The other 40 pages are just a review of what one lawyer, on retainer, composed to make sure that the only party that has any rights is the builder. While picking up a contract a few weeks ago, a new piece of paper surfaced in the packet.

After reviewing the folder, and reading the additional paper, I gave it back to the receptionist stating that this must have gotten in to my file by mistake. She said, “No, every subcontractor must sign it.”

Somewhat puzzled, I asked, “How does supplying windows have anything to do with concrete run-off?” 

She repeated that all subs must sign it. The part that really convinced me I should sign it was that checks would not be released until it was signed. Hey, I really do see the connection now.

S.W.P.P.P. stands for Storm Water Pollution Protection Plan . In a nutshell, here’s what it means. Home building in the desert means you “pour a slab of concrete” and build the house, as opposed to a crawl space or basement. Apparently, this SWPPP program was started to avoid the overage of concrete spilling into the storm drains.

Set me back on course here if I’m wrong, but when you pour a slab for a house, isn’t it “on the ground?” Last time I checked, my driveway was poured on the ground. And those pesky sidewalks that create the gutters that feed the storm drains, yep, on the ground. While pouring concrete, it is better to order a tad bit more than needed, than to run short. 

In years past, the transit mix driver would back his truck onto the edge of the property and dispose of the surplus in the desert (on the ground). When it had cured, someone with a loader would scoop up the dried concrete into a trash truck and off to the dump with solid waste. The closet thing you could find to a storm drain was maybe a Kangaroo rat hole. (Would that make him a SWPPP rat?)

So a whole new industry has emerged with this “ save the concrete” program. It’s flourishing because new regulations have been put into place and have become law with which builders must comply or have their jobs shut down and/or suffer big fines. See how this is connected to the window business?

My point to all of this is that within the jurisdictions of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) and the National Fenestration Ratings Council, we have made great strides in improving window performance. We are “light” years ahead on energy performance just in the last 7-8 years. Mother Nature has also had a hand in helping us design high-impact windows for certain geographic locations. 

Testing chambers have evolved from a bathroom shower stall and garden hose, to full scale laboratories. I believe the best part of this improvement is that it was initiated within the window industry itself. Okay, here comes the “but.”

Because we are doing such a good job of improving energy performance, solar heat gain, air and water infiltration standards, it is backfiring on those of us who are embroiled in the construction defect arena. The attorneys use the standards for testing a window in a controlled lab on houses that are up to 10 years old. 

My only recourse is a column written in SHELTER’s sister publication, Door and Window Manufacturer (DWM) magazine, by Dean Lewis, manager of product certification for AAMA, titled, “Use & Misuse of Field Testing” (See January/February 2005 DWM magazine, page 14). The attorneys usually give it little credibility because “It’s only a magazine article.” Imagine depending on one of my articles to give you credibility or to keep you from death row. Point made.

So if this article just happens to fall into the hands of the governing body of our industry, here is what we need. I believe our industry would be well-served if there were definitive field tests, prorated like a car battery. If the product has been installed for 5 years, then the testing standards should be relaxed to reflect a used product. A window which has been in service, cannot be expected to perform as the day it was new. We need more than an article that states lab testing was never intended to be substituted in the field.

R. Mark Reasbeck is owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door in Las Vegas.


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