Ordering Liability

Jim Snyder
January 13, 2015
THE TALK... | Operations

A few years ago, I was contracted by a dealer to perform the take-off of full-frame replacement windows for a very old home. This was my only role for this job. A general contractor would hire out the installation to a crew with window replacement skill-level unknown to me.

Most of the existing windows were double-hung wood, old-generation weight and pulley, with very robust exterior casing and with many layers of paint, so none would open. Some of the window combinations were site-built, based on the inconsistencies in spread-mulls and subsills.

The bay combinations varied in complexity, plus the home had an unusual mix of wall thicknesses, and there were plenty of various interior shutters, all of which the homeowner wanted to reuse after the windows were replaced. There wasn’t much consistency to rely on, so I had to number each opening rather than just specify eight of these, five of these, etc.

The existing window frame and casing profiles were quite common for that decade, but the new generation full-frame replacement products (also wood) were quite different proportionally. The weight pockets had to be removed and the rough openings narrowed to accommodate a conventional balance and frame system. Plus, other particulars had to be considered, such as the exterior projection of the new casing to span the unusually wide cavity between the wall sheathing and back of the brick.

With approximately 60 openings, the take-off would take days, not hours, and a lot of careful work to adapt or, really, design the new products to the openings. I like a challenge, but have to admit, this take-off was wearing and even stressful.

Approaching $75,000 in product alone, there was a lot at stake for accuracy. I was confident in my take-off but if, somehow, I made an ordering error, would I be liable for the cost of any windows should they not fit?

The answer to the question is not the point of this story. The point of the story is that this question was answered before I invested time in the take-off and especially before I placed the order. Do you take similar measures? Read my latest column that expands on the topic, take this week’s poll, post a comment, and/or email me to share your story.

Survey Results for 01/14/2015 :

Whatever your role in the ordering/take-off or payment process, is it made clear up-front which party will take on the financial liability of the order?

Most of the time










Only if the question comes up




Jim Snyder is an AAMA-certified FenestrationMaster and InstallationMaster who shares his years of installation field experience as an industry writer, speaker, trainer and project/product consultant for dealers and manufacturers. A member of various industry organizations, Snyder also is involved in instructional document creation and revision. Contact him at jim@windowjim.com.