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Northeast Window and Door Association Doth Protest New Warranty Rules Too Much

Posted by Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief

Jun 5, 2017 4:14:57 PM

A bill under consideration would require window, siding and roofing companies to cover labor costs under existing warranties. What are they afraid of?30300044752_bfff571a7c_k.jpg

Why is it that associations always seem to begin every political discussion with the word "no?" We see it in both national and state level associations for most industries. In the building industry, prominent examples are the fight to keep sprinklers out of residential codes, the battle against low-flow toilets. They lost both of those, thank goodness. Millions of gallons of water have been saved, and not a few lives.

I received a release today from the Northeast Window and Door Manufacturers Association, urging me to contact Connecticut legislators and ask them NOT to put forward legislation that would make manufacturers more accountable for the products they build.  The Bill applies to windows, siding and roofing.

Why would I, or any building professional, be inclined to do this? It sounds to me like a pretty good idea. A manufacturer who knows he will carry the full cost of a product failure and replacement is less likely to cut corners, more likely to build a good, solid product, and offer a warranty that estimates the window lifespan in a reasonable manner, not a safe guess, based on conjecture.

Take windows. As I wrote about in our April issue of Green Builder magazine, window makers have been lazy. They know where the life cycle weakness is in the their products--at the end of the life of their glazing spacers, but have not taken the lead in correcting it. For decades, they have been selling a product with a short 25-year lifespan that is neither repairable nor easily recyclable. Can they truly be offended by top-down legislation aimed at accountability? Methinks they doth protest too much.

New windows are a major investment for the homeowner, and window failures are a major liability risk for the builder.

I read the Bill, which passed committee with a 100 percent "Yea" approval. It's broad in scope yes, but doesn't seem unreasonable. Here's an excerpt:

This bill (1) sets certain payment conditions and time frames for warranties on residential roofing, windows, and siding and (2) specifies that the warranty claims for farm, forestry, yard, and garden equipment include parts and hourly labor rates and prohibits suppliers from denying a warranty claim based on certain minor errors.
*Senate Amendment “A” (1) eliminates the underlying bill's warranty payment and time frame requirements for roofing, window, and siding suppliers and (2) adds the provision prohibiting farm, forestry, yard, and garden equipment suppliers from denying a warranty claim based on certain minor errors.
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2018
The bill requires manufacturers of residential roofing, window, or siding material who offer a consumer warranty for such material to pay any claim made for materials and labor under the warranty within 30 days after they receive and approve the claim.
The manufacturer must approve or disapprove a claim within 30 days after receiving the claim. If a claim is not disapproved in writing by the 30th day after receipt, it is deemed to be approved and the manufacturer must pay the claim within 30 days after that.
Under the bill, a manufacturer that pays such a consumer warranty must pay the consumer the full price for any materials and the hourly labor rate the consumer was charged, provided the consumer provides the price and rate in writing and the total amount payable for the claim must be equal to or less than the amount the consumer paid for the original purchase and installation.
Perhaps WDMA, mirroring the excessive anti-regulatory tenor of the NAHB, is simply digging in its heels because that's what associations do. But on its surface at least, this looks like a good Bill. Good for consumers. Good for builders, and ultimately good for REPUTABLE product manufacturers. Companies that are upset by the fact that they have to foot the entire bill for fixing a faulty product are probably not the ones that deserve our sympathy.
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