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Is an installed window a separate product or is it part of the wall? The doctrine of Economic Loss can affect liability when an installed window causes damage to the wall.

from AWDI

In 2002, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision basically says windows are part of the wall. The class action of Thelen Reid Brown, et. al. basically says that windows are separate.

Both of these deal with the economic loss doctrine governing the use of torts (sue for damages) versus contract law (violation of contract which is used when something doesn’t perform as promised). This is important because if the window isn’t part of the wall, then it can cause damage to the wall and a tort action is possible. If the window is part of the wall, then you can only recover what the contract/warranty allows.

So, what does a window manufacturer vote for: Part of the wall (responsibilities fall on contractor who “supplies the wall”) or not part of the wall (responsibilities fall on manufacturer for damages to the wall, etc., but handled by the contractor who “supplies” the component who can turn around and sue the manufacturer)?

This seems to be the debate. We both know it is part of the wall for two reasons:
  1. Windows serve no purpose sitting in the garage.
  2. Proper installation requires that the installer integrates the five barriers of the window to the five barriers in the wall to manage the weather/water/vapor, etc.
If you don’t integrate the new window properly, then you will have bypassed the legal position and consensus that the window becomes the wall — opening you to damages liability to the existing wall; over an above the window itself.

AWDI’s Pilot Window program and the separate identity of barrier integration installation can have a profound impact on settling the debate as well as the problems associated with it. Each state deals with the Doctrine of Economic Loss in their own way, but product liability versus damage a product can do if isolated, can mean big shift in liability. more


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