A challenge for all of us in the fenestration business is the contradiction between what our customers want and what we can legally provide. As we know, all provinces will be adopting some of the 2010 NBC over the next few months / years. In BC we will see the 2012 BCBC arrive December 20th 2013. After a couple of delays we are assured this is the "drop dead date". Product installed in BC on or after December 20th 2013 must comply with NAFS 08 and the Canadian Supplement. Over the past eighteen months many manufacturers have been spending a great deal of time working on their product offerings, designs and testing to be ready for this date.
I have discovered that the challenges to do this are far greater than I had anticipated. The difficulty is not so much the testing, but the products that the consumer demands. Under the outgoing code (CAN / CSA A440-00 Windows) most manufacturers simply built and tested a few simple products and they were good to go. Of course we all knew that testing a 29" xx 63" casement window and a 60" x 60" picture window was pretty easy, and most of us could achieve respectable performance. We also saw no problem in building any configuration and size of product and calling it tested. We all did it, and we all knew it was wrong. We my friends the window and door world is about to change.
The North American Fenestration Standard adopted in the NBC, and coming to a local building code near you has some very specific rules about what you must test. What is really interesting is that many of these combination windows and doors we have all been building for years were likely not even close to meeting the requirements under this new standard. For years the main concern for manufacturers was to design to manage air and water. Most of us have a good handle on that problem, but get ready to be shocked by how poorly your designs will perform structurally when you build and test what builders, home owners and architects design. IF you can get product rather to the actual designs requested of you, then you can expect to add significant cost to meet structural requirements when you get into larger combination systems.
Will things change? Consumers want what they want, architects draw what inspires them, if you won't give it to them, someone else probably will, as enforcement of code has been a very hit and miss (mostly miss) game. I can't speak for the rest of the country , but custom home owners and architects in BC want as big and as custom as can be dreamt. Extreme expanses of glass to bring in light and to provide views are seen in all areas of the province. Fifty, sixty and seventy square foot glazing panes and 200+ square foot combination windows and doors are seen in many designs and projects. Yes, for residential these may seem extreme, but even a typical west coast spec home with a six foot wide, eight foot tall combination windows, common in the great rooms and built in typical North American PVC products will surprise you when exposed to a PG 35 structural load. Recently I was in a local test lab and saw a slimline PVC slider window combination system, two operators and four fixed panes at 144" x 96". With relatively minimal hand pressure I could cause some deflection, good luck to them.
So what does a manufacturer do? The days of curbside quotation are gone. Manufacturer's reps need to be consultants, no simply sales people, and these consultants need to understand what the project requirements are. NAFS and the Canadian Supplement provide a great deal of information to determine the project performance requirements for specific regions, projects and product types. Not every project will require a CW class product rated to a performance grade 55. Fenestration Canada as well as the Fenestration Association of BC are continuing their efforts to educate builders, architects, building officials, manufacturers and others in the intricacies of product class and performance grade. Get your sales team in touch with the training available for these groups. The NAFS standard is very difficult form anything we in Canada are familiar with, and it will take some time manufacturers and sales consultants to get a handle on it.
It looks like BC will be the first province to really embrace this new standard. The chatter from the industry and government bodies assuring us the enforcement will be strong has been a positive thing for the local test laboratories; they confirm they are very busy. In the labs you will find every conceivable design of window and door system as many of us try our hand at getting on board with this very challenging change. What will be interesting is can we design our product offerings to meet the new requirements?
It is unlikely consumers will accept smaller openings in their homes, and it is highly unlikely architects will accept the limitations we may see from this new standard. So we are at a crossroads for the fenestration industry, if they design, can we supply? For decades we have had it relatively easy (especially the door folks), but this new standard for fenestration will be very challenging to all manufacturers. Windows and swing doors are going to need to adapt, and costs will go up. There lies the largest question of all. Will the consumer be prepared to pay for products that meet their local code requirements? The only answer should be, if that is that is available, then yes.
Consumers can come to Westeck Windows and Doors as we are ready for this new code, please contact us for more details
To learn more about Westeck Windows and Doors or if you would like to talk to someone about windows or doors for your next project, please call us toll free on 1-877-606-1166