The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) 2017 National Fall Conference, which was held this week in Greenville, S.C., addressed the timely topic of wind- and water-related codes during a session hosted by Dan Lavrich, owner of Lavrich & Associates Consulting Engineers in Florida. Lavrich is active in building code development in Florida and is currently  performing inspections in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which hit Florida last month just after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston.

Dan Lavrich.

Lavrich’s presentation, “Wind, Water, Codes, Coverage: Myths & Realities,” covered his experience with how wind and water damage happens, why it happens and even whether it really happened. He says determining the answer to the last question can get complicated.

During Hurricane Andrew in 1992, more damage was caused by breaches of the envelope than direct building damage, Lavrich said. Great attention must be paid to the installation of assemblies, and more attention is needed related to the design of building envelopes to resist water intrusion.

“Identification of point of entry and cause of water intrusion is essential,” said Lavrich. “Talk is cheap. You have to prove it.”

Lavrich’s role involves working with adjusters who are inspecting damage from water and wind impact.

“When I look at an insurance issue, I’m out there to tell the adjusters what happened and why,” he said. “Adjusters then decide whether to pay.”

According to Lavrich, insurance companies will generally pay for storm-related damage to fenestration caused by failure of the assemblies to withstand wind or impact, but they will not pay for entry of wind-driven rain unless a breach has been caused by wind, impact or another externally applied force. Common causes of structural failure of assembly include wind, impact, or failure of the attachment due to wind or impact.

An example in which insurance companies will pay is if a frame is bent by debris. If windows have no damage except for water intrusion, the policy that covers the building will typically not pay, he said. However, homeowner’s insurance may cover damage in this scenario.

In terms of hurricane season,  Lavrich said there have been places that never thought they would get hurricane-force winds that have experienced them this season.

“I’m a firm believer in impact-resistant products in building codes on the coast [due to this reason].”

Lavrich said it’s important for fenestration manufacturers to keep up to date with codes and regional conditions, because they never know when they could be faced with a complaint.

“If you’re called as a manufacturer to defend your product, remember what I’ve talked about today or it will come back to haunt you,” concluded Lavrich.

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