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Community and Q&A

Acceptable install of windows and housewrap?

nj_homeowner | Posted in General Questions on

Hi everyone –

We installed new Andersen 400 Series windows and Tyvek WRB on our house currently under construction in NJ.

Can anyone knowledgeable please comment on whether this is an acceptable installation, or if we really should redo everything?

I am prepared to redo, but given the cost I would like to be certain that it’s really necessary.

I recently posted here about the same issue, but I thought I would add some detail here and expand the discussion to include the Tyvek install.  A link to the original thread is below.

As you can see in the photo here, many of the manufacturer’s installation instructions have not been followed.  Some things I notice are:

+ No caulking used at all on windows

+ No proper flashing tape used on sides or top of windows, just Tyvek housewrap tape

+ It looks like they lined the rough openings with Tyvek and a bit of Vycor Plus flashing at the bottom only, then installed the windows without caulk, then installed a layer of Tyvek across the tops of the windows, and over the top nailing flange, then taped the flanges with Tyvek housewrap tape

+ They taped across the bottom nailing flange with housewrap tape

+ They did not overlap the Tyvek by at least 6″ as required in the instructions

Thank you in advance for any help!!!

Brian

Here is a link to my original GBA post:

https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/question/good-window-installation

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Replies

  1. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Brian,

    Q. "I am prepared to redo, but given the cost I would like to be certain that it’s really necessary."

    A. Since the building code requires all materials to be installed according to manufacturers' instructions, to cost to you should be zero. The cost to fix this is the responsibility of the contractor who made the errors.

    [P.S. I'm sorry that I didn't notice your name when I first posted this answer.]

    1. nj_homeowner | | #2

      I know and understand what you are saying about what "should be" zero cost to me, and I agree, however I am also compassionate and reasonable and do not wish to cause my builder to incur a substantial loss due to this mistake unless there is real harm.

      1. Malcolm Taylor | | #3

        I don't think you are going to get any more clarity in this thread than the original one. It is a poor install. The "real harm" may not occur, or occur years down the road. Only you can decide if the risk is worth putting up with or not.

      2. John Clark | | #4

        My concern would be causing ill will with the builder. For example is he going to make up for the lost time in future phases of the build? In one sense you really are at the mercy of the builder, the clock is ticking and interest is accruing.

        1. Deleted | | #7

          Deleted

  2. Walter Ahlgrim | | #5

    Before you complain to the builder visit a few other builders work sites. My guess is you will find your house is much better than what you are likely to find in the wild.

    Walta

    1. nj_homeowner | | #6

      Are you saying that most new construction does not meet the building code?

      I don't think it's ok at any budget level to skip less than 1% in cost and effort needed to make a structure excellent, and so now instead it is totally questionable and at risk

  3. Akos | | #8

    My $0.02.

    Still have long ways to go to build the house (building structure is the easy part), so you don't want to alienate your builder.

    If you want a specific detail for the trim, I would offer up paying for the special materials (ie better flashing tape, caulk) and splitting the labor cost.

    In the future, I would recommend agreeing on these kinds of details ahead of time to save time. It might seem infantilizing to go over details they should know, but it at least sets the expectation of how you want the job done. This does mean a bit of research on your end and not going overboard, you don't want to sound like a Mike Holmes type of ass.

    Details are important to get right, they can also suck up a HUGE amount of time, so it is important to talk about it.

    1. Malcolm Taylor | | #10

      I don't know... On the drawing I do the details are for things the are out of the ordinary, or particularly important. In the absence of a specific detail, the default is to follow all pertinent codes and standards - and the manufacturers instructions. That's typically spelled out in a prominent note on the first page of the drawings - and since the drawings constitute part of the contract...

      Brian isn't asking for a specific trim detail, or even a specific way he would prefer the windows be installed. He is just asking that the work follow the building code.

      1. Akos | | #12

        You are right, but sometimes being a hard ass early on in the project might not be the best.

        I'm sure the guy though he was doing a good job, the install is actually better than lot of the subdivision builds I see. Sometimes it is worth a bit of effort and cost to move things along and actually finish the house.

        We are talking about maybe a day here for a guy to rip out the windows and install properly, so not a big cost, might not be worth having "contract" conversations over it. Not saying there should be no consequences for not getting things right.

        1. nj_homeowner | | #14

          You are so wrong. Finish a house with bad window installs? Now the whole house is at risk.

          Our house is now trimmed and sided outside. All of that might need to be ripped out, discarded, and done again.

          If the window install is not good, it is particularly terrible because it cannot be easily or inexpensively fixed, and now the life and performance of the whole structure is compromised.

    2. nj_homeowner | | #11

      Before the windows were installed, I knew nothing about installing windows.

      The builder told me he knows how to do it well, he's done thousands of windows, "never had a problem."

      Of course I trusted him. Why would I not expect him to install our windows to code and in an otherwise sensible fashion?

      We are not doing anything exotic. Just regular Tyvek and new Andersen windows.

      They did not follow the mfr instructions, nor any of the standard advice given in the multitudes of articles and videos available. No caulk was used. No flashing tape.

      Total material cost for house to do 50 windows correctly is less than $1k.

      Should I really roll the dice and accept this work? My Andersen warranty is void. No engineer will tell me this is ok. Should I really just go along and take the risks, building even more stuff around all of these windows?

      I personally do not know anyone, no matter how much they are spending on building their house, who would want these steps skipped to save less than 1% of the cost.

      Who would not want their new windows installed properly?

  4. Walter Ahlgrim | | #9

    The installation of house wrap is generally very sad and often looks like a christmas package wrapped up by a 6 year old. Then they leave it exposed to the wind months and make almost no attempt to repair the rips.

    Do I think building inspectors are failing houses for bad house wrap? Heck no!

    Do I think your builder has read the instructions for Andersen 400 Series windows and or Tyvek WRB in the last 7 years? Heck no!

    It is not that he is a bad guy there are 27 different window manufacturers in the market each has 3 different model lines with different instructions that get rewritten every few years.
    Be careful what you ask for. I printed the instructions for a window on Zip sheathing with foam insulation because it is not the norm around here. The instructions call for caulking months later when it was time to clean the windows only then did I find the clear calk on the glass. I spent hours cleaning caulk off the glass and when the rain gets on the glass I still can see where the caulk was.

    i couldn't agree more with Akos.

    Walta

    1. nj_homeowner | | #13

      My builder has installed only Andersen windows on the last four houses he's built. Andersen and Tyvek are best-selling brands, the very definition of "ordinary."

      Of course he should know exactly how to install them right.

  5. User avatar GBA Editor
    Peter Yost | | #15

    Really sorry for you situation; it is sadly too often that windows are installed either not according to window manufacturer requirements or to really manage water.

    If you have not insulated exterior walls yet, I would water test every window with a garden hose, starting at the head of the window and loading every square inch of the window unit and opening.

    Here is the "official" spray rack test; mimic it as best you can. ASTM E1105: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lNX-uxCOrk

    in terms of loading the wall from the exterior and depressurizing (with a blower door).

    Peter

    1. nj_homeowner | | #16

      Hi Peter -

      Thank you very much for your thoughts and this interesting idea.

      I don't think I can do the blower door part now, because it's not feasible to seal the house at this point.

      But let's say I were to aggressively spray each window from the outside while watching for leaks inside. And let's say there are no leaks during the test.

      Do you think that would be sufficient proof that the house will probably be fine going forward?

      I am concerned that as the house and its parts expand and contract over the years, and the materials age, their ability to resist the water will decline, and whatever performance we observe now will be meaningless.

      What do you think?

      Thank you,

      Brian

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