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A Voice for Prehangers: B.C. door manufacturers look to form a new association

B.C. manufacturers look to smooth NAFS compliance with a new association.

July 3, 2019  By Andrew Snook

Photo: ID 100303288 © Auremar

The 2010 National Building Code of Canada (NBC) marked a monumental shift in how doors are tested in Canada with the introduction of NAFS, the North American Fenestration Standard.

The most updated version of NAFS is currently being used in the 2018 B.C. Building Code, and it requires doors being installed in the province to be NAFS compliant. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean all the players in the B.C. door market are adhering to the necessary bylaws, particularly in the Lower Mainland. From building inspectors being unsure on how to properly enforce these standards, to counterfeit labels showing up on jobsites, the NAFS standard has definitely encountered some roadblocks in its practical implementation into the B.C. market.

This has placed additional strain on companies like B.C. Door and other manufacturers in the province that are supportive of the government’s NAFS compliance and U-value requirements, and have already put forward thousands of dollars in new products and testing to comply with the new standard. To  try to find a solution to these challenges, B.C. Door president Shayne Palmer is working with another Lower Mainland manufacturer, Jason Sun of Parwood Door Products, to potentially build a NAFS prehangers association in B.C.

“We’re looking to work with people who want to work with the association to make things better,” Palmer says, adding that the association would ask for its members to become NAFS-certified manufacturers. “We’re looking for people having problems with what NAFS is and getting NAFS compliant – or having problems manufacturing NAFS frames – and help them through and how to rectify it.”

Palmer says there is a potentially large group of manufacturers that could come together and draw from each other’s ideas to help create solutions to their NAFS challenges.

Sun says getting all the manufacturers together within an association to share ideas will be extremely helpful for solving the industry’s current issues. He says the challenges the industry is facing right now are coming from three different directions:

  • The building code and the new act manufacturers have to comply with for meeting new requirements with existing products in the marketplace;
  • The individual companies are not big enough to handle every issue they’re currently facing, when considering the time and effort required to deal with each one on their own; and
  • Counterfeit products that don’t meet the necessary certification standards.

In addition to helping solve the industry’s current challenges, he says that forming an association could help all the manufacturers improve their operations through collaboration. “When we get more and more information from all over from these members I think it will help to improve our systems, too,” Jason Sun says. “That’s the goal we set and we’re working towards.”

APP-roving the right products
Sun and Palmer are looking to help building inspectors deal with counterfeit and other non-conforming products flooding the marketplace through the creation of an app inspectors could install on their smartphones to check labels on doors at worksites. Sun says fake labelling is a really bad issue in the Lower Mainland and that you could “probably drive around and see those fake labels every day in half of the jobsites.”

“With the app it could make them much more at ease,” Palmer says, adding that he’s heard of some cases in B.C. where inspectors are signing off on products that appear to be NAFS approved, but the inspectors can’t necessarily tell for sure. “With this app and the lab making certified labels, when the inspector sees a certified label on the product itself they should have complete comfort.

One section of the statement to form an association, created by Palmer and Sun, includes a $2,000 lab fee per company to become certified with the lab to create labels. The lab would also be responsible for confirming quality control at each operation.  

“If you look at the inspector’s job when he goes to look at a door frame, it’s like buying a car. How would you know which one meets your criteria? It’s very difficult because you have a draft seal sill, you have the Parwood sill, and you have an Endura sill… how would the inspector even know which sill he’s even looking at? Whose sill is it?” Palmer says. “It becomes very confusing for the inspector, and that’s why the building officials of B.C. are having a tough time even wanting to inspect for this situation, because now once they’ve passed it, they’re on the hook by saying, ‘Yes, I approve this because it was NAFS.’  They are only approving it because they see a label. But they’re not really inspecting how the door frame was really made. ‘Does it look like it was made properly?’ is the question mark and how would they be able to tell? They’re an inspector, they’re not a door manufacturer.

“This label system that Jason has come up with is to create an app on the inspector’s phone that would be a real tremendous help for the building inspector to type in the address and look at the test reports, if necessary, and then he’s not questioning it anymore. He knows what he’s doing is proper. ”

The association would construct a database for the members’ NAFS-complaint products that would function as a tracking system for every product sold into the marketplace that could be used for auditing by government officials, building envelope consultants and engineers.

The association database would offer the following functions:

  • Recording the product selling history of all of its members;
  • Recording the factory inspection history of all of its members;
  • Recording the product’s installed jobsite information;
  • Providing needed information for industry guidance;
  • Providing checking tools for the city inspector;
  • Providing information for the insurance companies;
  • Providing bonding foundation for all the material suppliers to their benefit of innovation.

Sun says the inspectors would be able to use the app to identify every one of the NAFS-certified products easily.

“The game is saving time and money,” he says. “And by getting the fake products out, saving the taxpayers some money.”

Added benefits
As an association, Palmer believes the industry in B.C. would have a stronger voice to lobby officials to enforce the proper labeling of products.

Other benefits of creating an association would include creating a united group to share the cost of tests and improvements to door systems; providing tools and educations for building officials, engineers and building envelope professionals about these tools and how to use them to better the industry; bringing in a testing facility and having it monitored with a third party performing tests to find out the quality level of products; and insisting on third-party certifiers to perform factory inspections at random, ensuring that association members are building door units up to the standard.

Palmer says that everyone adopting the same program, at the end of the day, would be win-win for everyone.

“I’m trying to make a better door and I think the other manufacturers are trying to make better doors,” he says.

“We want this article to go around and explain our opinions and our ideas,” Sun adds. “We want people to come in and talk to us and generate solutions. This is all the value to me. Whoever is willing to talk to us, we’re happy to talk to. I want people to hear the worries coming from this side, and we want new voices coming from outside coming here. You never know, it’s all for helping the industry to grow healthily.”

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