Choosing windows and doors involves more than comparing features and shopping for the best price. Buyers should also consider potential health and safety issues, liabilities, and construction risks.
This checklist summarizes requirements that apply to all windows and doors sold and installed in BC for use in buildings built under Part 9 of the BC Building Code, titled Housing and Small Buildings. It also highlights several steps discerning buyers should take to minimize unnecessary risks.Your Health and Safety Are Important
Responsible window and door manufacturers make an effort to learn enough about a homeowner's requirements to be able to provide products that comply with the building code. At a minimum the window/door sales person should know where the home is located and obtain a set of drawings to have enough information to ensure the quoted products will address applicable safety, egress, water resistance and structural performance requirements.
The products supplied must be labeled to show they comply with all the requirements of CSA Standard A440-00, Windows (BCBC 188.8.131.52.1) and CSA A440.1, User Selection Guide to CCSA Standard A440-00, Windows. Products manufactured in other countries and rated to foreign standards are not equivalent to products rated in Canada for Canadian conditions.
The product labels should also show the ratings for structural wind loads, water penetration, and air leakage (ABC ratings) as determined by the CSA A440.1, User Selection Guide to CCSA Standard A440-00, Windows or by a licensed professional engineer.
Note that folding door products are new to the market and are not yet referenced in building codes and standards, and may not be available with ABC performance labels.
Products that are not rated correctly for the building's location do not comply with the code and can endanger your health and safety.
Energy Performance and The Law
It is against the law to buy or sell a window/door that does not comply with the BC Energy Efficiency Standards Regulation. While products that comply with the regulation may be a bit more expensive, they reduce both heating costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Windows and glazed must be labeled by a recognized energy certification agency showing they have a U-value of no more than 2.0 W/m2-K (0.35 in U.S. units). Recognized labels must bear the certification mark of Quality Auditing Institute (QAI), Warnock-Hersey, Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC). (Wood doors and insulated steel or fiberglass doors have similar labeling requirements.)
It is illegal to buy or sell products that do not have certified energy labels showing U-values of 2.00 or less.
Protection from the unexpected
You should not have to pay for workers insurance, injuries, or damage caused by people doing work on your home.
Are Workers Protected by WorkSafeBC?
Before choosing a business to work on your property ask for its WorkSafeBC account number, then get a clearance letter at www.worksafebc.com. You should always obtain a clearance letter before a business or contractor starts working for you and again before you make the final payment.
Anyone employing workers is at risk of being sued if a worker is injured and by law every employer is required to register for insurance with WorkSafeBC. If you hire workers or a company that are not insured you could be liable for the cost of insurance or be charged the total compensation cost if there is an injury.
If a business you hire is not registered or not making its payments to WorkSafeBC, you could be liable for insurance premiums owing in connection with the work or service being performed on your behalf.
Is Site Work Insured?
In addition to insurance for the workers you should ask prospective businesses that would work on your property to provide you copies of their certificates of liability insurance. This will not only protect you but may also allow you to reduce the extent of your own liability insurance for the project.
Innotech carries liability insurance of $2,000,000.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Isn't it the building inspector's job to enforce the building code?
A. No. The building officials have the authority to ensure the code is being followed. They are not obliged to enforce the building code. A building inspector may or may not deny an occupancy permit for windows/doors that are not correctly rated or labeled.
Q. Who is responsible to comply with the building code if not the building official?
A. The person who takes out the building permit is responsible to comply with all applicable provisions of the building code. If the building official fails to notice that some aspect of the building does not comply with the code, or chooses not to enforce some provision of the code, the party constructing the building is still under obligation to comply with the code.
Q. Doesn't my builder's and/or supplier’s insurance protect me if I and/or the builder/supplier accidentally fail to meet a code requirement?
A. No insurance policy will protect you or a supplier from failing to comply with an existing code or regulation. You will be left without recourse and end up paying for any potential claims or damages.
Q. Are there risks to buying windows/doors that do not meet the code?
A. There are several that can affect health and safety. Products that are not tested/engineered to meet the structural loads can endanger the life and safety of the occupants. Products that do not meet the minimum water tightness requirements required by code may cause water damage to the building and lead to the growth of mould. Products may also contain unsafe substances such as lead that can endanger the health of children. Most major surety companies have changed their policy wording to exclude damage to building structures resulting from water ingress through the building envelope. For example TD Insurance does not insure loss or damage caused by "seepage or influx of surface or ground water derived from natural sources though basement walls, doors, windows or other openings therein . . ." (direct quote from a 2011 insurance policy).
Q. Don't all windows/doors sold in BC automatically meet the Energy Efficiency Standards Regulation?
A. No. Some builders choose to buy less expensive products that do not meet the regulation, and there are some manufacturers who are willing to sell them.
Q. How do I know if a window/door complies with the Energy Efficiency Standards Regulation?
A. All windows, sliding glass doors and swinging glass doors that comply with the regulation have a label showing the product has a U-value less than or equal to 2.0 W/m2-K (0.35 in U.S. units). Wood doors must have a label showing that the glass complies with the regulation. Insulated steel or fiberglass doors must have labels that show both the glass and insulation glass meet the requirements of the regulation.
Recognized labels must bear the certification mark of one of the following: Quality Auditing Institute (QAI), Warnock-Hersey, Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC).
Products that are delivered to the jobsite without these labels do not comply with the regulation.
Q. If the window/door manufacturer is responsible to meet the requirements of the BC Energy Efficiency Regulation, doesn't that let me off the hook as the builder/owner/developer?
A. Not entirely. It is not only against the law to manufacture a window or door that doesn't comply with the regulation, it is also against the law to buy a product that doesn't comply with the regulation. A subsequent owner of the building or condo unit can sue the builder for selling them a property that does not comply with the law.