Volume 40,   Issue 6                                  June  2005

Dear USG

Curtainwall Contractors Face Burdens
Dear USG,
During recent years we have had experience with several high-rise office buildings on which the primary curtainwall contractor hired a subcontractor to do all the field caulking around the glass and framing to the structure. 

On several of these buildings where we were called out to verify the performance of the curtainwall during or near the end of the warranty period, it turned out that there were massive failures in the sealants, mostly caused by improper workmanship by the subcontractor or improper joint sizes during the initial installation of the curtainwall versus the structure.

It becomes a burden on to the original curtainwall contractor to make the subcontractor live up to the warranty, which, in many cases, is questionable as to what is or is not included. The standard excuse given is that improper substrates and/or pretreatment “primers” were used.

When we have contacted the sealant manufacturers, they invariably see no problem with their materials and put the blame on the joint designs or workmanship.

All this finger pointing puts the burden on the owner of the building to make a third-party perform the warranty work to whose satisfaction? I wish the industry would address the issue of who finally makes good on warranties short of litigation and who stands behind the subsequent repair work. Bearing in mind that sealant material these days lasts about 40 years as specified, the fact that they often fail in the two to five year initial warranty period shows a sad state of affairs for our industry.

Peter M. Muller
Curtainwall Consultant

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