By now, most of you have heard the warnings about how faulty window installations can lead to moisture intrusion, callbacks, and, for some, lawsuits. But the issue is serious enough that a reminder is in order: If window installation is part of your service offerings, you must make sure your crew and subs are trained on how to properly install and flash each type of window and that you have procedures in place to verify that proper techniques have been followed for each and every job. Putting this into practice has gotten simultaneously easier and more complicated.

A recent amendment to the International Residential Code has taken effect. It says, in part: "Windows shall be installed and flashed in accordance with the window manufacturer's written installation instructions ..." On the surface, this sounds great; finally, there's a code that specifies the proper installation of windows in the house. However, it leaves unsaid exactly what those specifications should be. Window manufacturers have gone from providing almost no installation instructions to providing more than could possibly be comprehended by the average installer. And each and every manufacturer has a different set of standards that is "appropriate" for their individual product.

Mike Butts This matters because you face the consequences of poor installation. Thomas K. Butt, FAIA (no relation) writes in a paper titled "Window Installation–an Evolving Challenge" (Nov. 8, 2004) that of more than 3,000 window installations examined, roughly 20% of the windows leaked. That means that if you install 20 windows in a typical house, four of them are likely to leak. This is pretty frightening, especially in today's litigious society where there is an attorney hiding under every rock.

So what's the point? Simply this: Establish a standard by which you will install your windows and doors in accordance with the instructions specific to the window brands you're installing, train your installers to the highest level of proficiency, inspect the work completed, and document the training, jobsite inspections, and results. Guarantee the work to your customers and ensure that every step of the process is documented and follows approved/recommended best practices. Then kiss your lucky rabbit's foot.

In addition, I strongly recommend enrolling your installers in a certification program. Possibly the No. 1 program in our industry is Installation Masters ( It's widely recognized as one of the most comprehensive in dealing with all types of exterior cladding, wall thickness, construction techniques, window types, and flashing material. The course requires commitment by you and your installers–it's a whole week of intense training. When your installers come back, they will be qualified to install any window in any house.

To further demonstrate the industry's commitment to installation excellence, DuPont and its Tyvek division have established a new certification program for installers. They have long championed the proper installation of the weather-resistant barrier and making detailed drawings and instructions available in the store. Now they have developed a program to train and certify the proper installation of this important moisture management system.

Poor installation is a serious problem within our industry and is costing the supply chain millions of dollars each year in construction defect claims, warranty repairs, callbacks, lost time, and poor customer relations. It's time to step up to the plate, take the responsibility, and do it right. Change within the industry is good, and we can lead this charge.

Mike Butts is president of LBM Solutions, a DeWitt, Mich.?based LBM supply consulting and training firm. 517.668.0585. E-mail: mike@