Starting this year, home sellers in Illinois are required to disclose any known window and door defects that might lead to moisture problems, reports the Springfield NPR affiliate, WUIS 91.9. This specific disclosure gets added to a long list of disclosures required from the seller at the time of sale, and reinforces the likelihood that window and door installation defects may end up in litigation.

The southside Chicago-based law firm of Wator & Zac explains in this short article the legal case that led to the Illinois legislature enacting the new disclosure terms in the Illinois Residential Real Estate Disclosure Report.

JLC editor, Clayton DeKorne, comments: There is still work to be done educating not just the building community, but the legal community, as well. Case in point: One western law firm cites examples of “common window construction defects” as:

  • Barrier-coated, reinforced flashing material (BCRFM) paper is missing or cut too short. [BCRFM is specific to stucco assemblies. With other cladding systems, different effective flashing materials would apply: Check.]
  • Mislapped building paper [a.k.a. reverse shingling of water-resistive barrier: Check.]
  • The omission of a sealant around the window [Screech! Hold a minute here.]

This last one might not be so easy to defend as a “defect.” Best practice window installation calls for building a drainable assembly, not using a barrier approach. Any water that gets through the window frame, or water that gets behind the trim and cladding and drains into the window assembly, must be able to drain safely out the bottom of each window and door. The use of a sill pan, combined with not sealing the bottom of the gap between this pan and the window and door unit, is the way to achieve this. Greg Burnet of Chicago Window and Door Solutions describes it well in his article, “Installing Full- Frame Replacement Windows”: “We leave the bottom flange without any tape, because any water that may make its way under the window has to be able to drain back out.”