There are tons of new green products on the market, and many can help builders garner points toward green home certifications. But attorney Patrick Perrone, of K&L Gates, warned pros to be cautious about installing them.
“Before you make a leap to a new green product from a proven product, you need to ask a lot of questions,” Perrone said during an educational session at the NAHB Green Building Conference in Dallas. “If you don’t ask the questions of the manufacturer, those are the questions an attorney will ask you in a deposition.”
During the packed session, Perrone outlined 12 questions pros should ask in an effort to avoid green product legal issues:
1. What is this product supposed to do?
2. Can large quantities of this product be delivered in a timely manner?
“You want a product that is easy to obtain,” Perrone said. “If not, it will lead to construction delays.”
3. How does the product compare to existing products?
“If the manufacturer can’t prove the performance [with company and third-party testing], I would stay away from it,” he said.
4. Does it meet recognized industry performance standards?
For example, if you use a new green shingle that does not meet ASTM standards, a jury will ask you why you installed that product.
5. Does the product meet building code requirements?
“If the manufacturer hasn’t tested it vis-a-vis the code requirements, stay away,” the lawyer warned.
6. How long will the product last?
For shingles and siding, a new product should have a warranty of at least 10 years, Perrone said.
7. How difficult is it to repair the product?
8. Is there test data available?
Through accelerated testing, the manufacturer should show evidence that the product will last for a designated time period, Perrone noted.
“Ask for third-party certification so that it’s not just the product manufacturer who says it is good,” he said, adding that TP, UL, and ANSI are reliable certifications.
9. Are there installation issues that need to be considered?
“You need to know how difficult it is to install and if the performance of the product is tied to installation,” Perrone stated, pointing to lawsuits that mushroomed a number of years ago against builders who installed and manufacturers who produced EIFS.
10. Are there any maintenance requirements and are they necessary to ensure long-term performance?
Perrone said that most homeowners just don’t follow the maintenance instructions, so shy away from a product that requires intensive upkeep.
11. How will the product perform if it gets wet?
The speaker noted that a number of products get rained on before installation, or they could get moist due to poor installation.
12. What is the product’s performance history?
If it’s not new, Perrone said to ask how long the product has been in the field and are there claims against it? He also said to ask manufacturers for names of pros who have installed the product.
If possible, Perrone said to test the product--for up to a year or two--before making a decision whether to install it.
“You are not in a rush,” he said. “There are many good products out there. You don’t have to get points with a new product.”
Perrone concluded this portion of his presentation with a warning: A product defect “may be a manufacturing problem, but the homeowner is going to come after you first. If you don’t ask these questions, an attorney is going to ask them to you.”