Talk it Through
Communication is Key for Renovation Projects
b y C h i p G e n t r y
ith more than 5.6 million cedures do you follow when installing So how can you prevent it from ever
commercial buildings and your windows?” getting to that stage? How can you re-
Mr. Fenestella replied, “I follow the duce the size of the “potential liability
housing units in the United States, manufacturer’s installation instruc- umbrella” hanging over your compa-
plenty of windows will be replaced in tions to the letter if possible, but they ny’s head? What should you do when
the coming years. There is plenty of don’t always conform to the type of res- you’ve tried doing the best you can, but
business and opportunity to go around. idential or commercial unit we’re ren- come across a building with a square
Unfortunately, that opportunity also ovating. So, I normally just rely on my hole, with instructions telling you to
leads to risk and liability. Inevitably, no many years of experience and do the use a round peg?
approximately 134 million
two commercial or residential struc- best I can under the conditions. What
tures could possibly be constructed else can I do?”
exactly alike. How can any reasonable Mr. Fenestella continued, “The con-
First, Keep Your promises
Remember that you have made a
installer expect to safely, consistently cept or design plans we receive show promise to the customer to comply
and efﬁciently replace those countless the building was constructed in a with your installer’s duty of care. You
windows without facing substantial certain way, but once my team gets in contracted with the customer to in-
liability, since they’re following man- there, more often than not, the actual stall a dependable and reliable product
ufacturer installation instructions that construction is nothing like the design properly, and that is what you are re-
don’t precisely ﬁt or coordinate with specifications provided. Then we’re quired, by law, to deliver. So what ex-
the project specifications? In short, standing there with a disgruntled client actly is the installer’s duty of care? It’s
there’s no perfect answer.
How can you reduce risk and sus- home or ofﬁce, and an eventual win-
with a gaping hole in the wall of their simply doing what you promised to do.
You are required to act as a reason-
tain profitability, despite inaccurate dow installation that doesn’t ‘perfectly’ able window installer and to execute
and inconsistent installation instruc- harmonize the window with the wall your contractual obligations. So ask
tions? That’s on top of developing gov- system and drainage plane. What else yourself, would a reasonably prudent
ernment regulations that hold you to should I do?”
increasingly strict guidelines and stan- “Luckily,” I replied calmingly, “the stall a window that doesn’t ﬁt or har-
dards.And, of course, the cost of doing answer is simple. You call the manu- monize properly to the wall system?
installation technician continue to in-
business continues to rise.
facturer who provided the instructions, Hopefully not. A reasonable window
explain the situation, and use their technician would not make a rash and
knowledge and guidance to make an reckless decision. In the likely event
I recently sat down with someone educated decision on how to address you’re faced with unexpected circum-
we’ll call“Mr.Fenestella,”the owner and the problem at hand. It’s really that stances, call the manufacturer. It is
general contractor of “Replacement easy. I’ve handled many cases where your ﬁrst line of defense against poten-
Windows.” Mr. Fenestella came into the installer never bothered to contact tial liability.
my ofﬁce and immediately exclaimed, the manufacturer and, had they done
The generic installation instructions
I need your help!” He told me that he so, most, if not all, of the installation may be all you need to complete the
current project and move on to the
was recently served with papers by the problems could have been avoided.”
prestigious plaintiffs’ﬁrm of “Ditchem,
“But what should I do in this situa- next one. However, the installation in-
Quick, and Hyde,” who represented tion now, when I’ve already made my structions are often ﬁlled with basic
a homeowner who complained her decision and the customer has already cookie-cutter installation recommen-
newly installed replacement windows sued me?” Mr. Fenestella asked.
dations and don’t conform to the spe-
leaked shortly after Replacement Win-
dows installed them.
So I asked,“What guidelines or pro- walk you through the process.
“That’s when you call me,” I replied. ciﬁc building you’re working on.
“If you ﬁnd yourself at that stage, I’ll
continued on page 16
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | October 2016