Christopher Grey outlines some major issues he sees when it comes to window and curtainwall installations and how communication can go a long way.

“The biggest trend we are seeing is pre-fabricated facades,” said Christopher Grey, senior project manager for Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, an engineering firm that designs, investigates and rehabilitates structures, building enclosures and materials. “This is changing the way products are installed.” He gave a presentation to members of the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA) this week during the group’s Annual Conference. His presentation focused on the most common issues in design through construction with a focus on glazing systems.

He said one problem the firm always sees is poor systems engineering.

“If you walk on a jobsite and see a window face down you know it’s going to be a bad day,” he said.

Grey added that the firm’s focus is to look at each system differently.

“Managing expectations for performance versus aesthetics is critical,” he said.

He also shared some stories highlighting why communication is always key.

“We recognize that architects work with window manufacturers,” said Grey. “Sometimes architects are designing systems a manufacturer has never made. This could have been alleviated ahead of time if they had just spoken to the window manufacturer.”

Another problem the firm sees often is poor coordination when it comes to sequencing—something contractors often ignore.

“We are at the mercy of installers,” he said. “Sometimes the drywaller does it and they have never installed windows before.”

One thing Grey hears a lot after installation issues have been found is: “We can fix it: but it’s going to delay your project.”

Grey also highlighted some issues the firm finds when it comes to curtainwall installations and, again, used some examples to highlight his message.

“On one job we did some test cuts and found there was no primer and it was installed in 0 degrees,” he said. “This product had no chance.”

He did warn, however, that some companies over rely on testing.

“By the time you do all that the building is operational,” he said. “We push to test as early as possible.”

But that doesn’t always happen and again it comes down to communication.

“We want to test two windows but no one tells us when they start the install and we get there and 300 windows have been installed incorrectly,” he said.

The FGIA Annual Conference continues through today. Check for further updates.