EXOVATIONS named 2013 Market Leader EXOVATIONS was recently contacted by Professional Remodeler Magazine for a front cover photo opportunity after being named 2013 Market Leader by the publication. Kyle Clapham wrote this about EXOVATIONS in the magazine publication, ” Exovations … Continue reading
Do you have a room of your home that always feels dark? Did you know that windows or doors can be cut in to create an entirely new feel to your home?
Upon purchasing my home, we fell in love with the lot, location, and layout but the house had one major problem. The Master bedroom only had one window and the room was DARK. We recently addressed the problem by having 3 windows cut into the wall. I can’t believe the addition of windows made such a difference to our home. The light can be seen from all the way down the hall.
Consulting with customers through Exovations, I’ve planned many wall modifications to let in light. Each time, the room is transformed beyond imagination. One customer had a brand new home with an amazing living room. The problem was – no light. She didn’t want to take up wall space where furniture could go with a window so we got creative. We cut a long window in over her couch. Instead of hanging a picture, we installed a picture window framing an image of her yard. The window is about 2 feet high and 8 feet wide. This allowed the perfect amount of light into the room while not affecting her furniture configuration in any way.
As people live in their homes, they often expand the outdoor living space. The home was most likely designed with only one back door. A large window can be converted into a door to add access to outdoor living areas. Single doors can be converted into double doors either French (in-swing or out-swing) or sliding doors (now available to look like French doors).
Skylights are an option for adding light to a room as well. Skylights however, potentially add a leak hazard to your roof. It’s really best to install skylights only at the time of re-roofing your home. This ensures that they are properly flashed and tied in to your roofing system.
Then there’s the other side of this conversation- removing a window or a door where you just don’t want one. If you’re considering new siding for your home, this is a perfect time to “fill in” an unwanted door or window. If the project is done properly, no one would ever know an opening existed.
One of my customers had a door in her bedroom that lead to “nowhere”. There had once been a balcony outside her room but it was long gone. The door was a safety hazard for her grandchildren however she didn’t want to lose the light it provided. Along with replacing the siding on her home, we framed in the door and installed a window in its place solving the problem.
Another customer had an arch window that allowed light to glare into the home fading out floors and furniture. A custom window treatment was required to cover the window. Instead of the expense of custom window treatments, they chose to have us: remove the window, frame in the opening, and install siding over the space. The elimination of the window solved the light problem and you would never know a window was ever there.
Eliminating or adding a door or window will create a drastic visual change to a home. Each scenario is unique and completely custom. Additional framing is always needed and often electrical work. The type of siding as well as interior wall treatment will also be a factor in the renovation plan. An experienced, licensed, and certified Contractor is highly recommended to make these changes. The investment however is worth it. The next time you go to turn on a lamp during the day just think – where could we put that window…
If you have ever solicited quotes for a home improvement project, you were probably more confused about what you were paying for than when you started. The more quotes you received the larger the variance between proposals.
Pricing is in the details. Regardless of the type of project; siding replacement, window replacement, roofing replacement, or any other home improvement; the price on the quote really doesn’t mean anything without knowing the specifications of ALL the work to be performed. For example, “replace all siding on the home” is not a specification. Describing the process of replacing the siding on your home would be specific, and would contain a list of specifications. For example: Remove all existing siding and place in contractor provided jobsite dumpster. Does “replace all siding on your home” include removal of the old siding? Probably. But it may not include the disposal of the waste. All siding manufacturers require a moisture barrier (house wrap) between the structure and the siding. Would this be included in “replace all siding on your home”? Very doubtful. What about inside corner boards, outside corner boards, window trim, window flashing, and cornice molding?
Window replacement pricing can be just as confusing and sometimes misleading. A $189 window does not meet the same specifications as a more expensive window. In fact, it does not qualify to meet the Federal Energy Star qualifications. Replacement Windows are manufactured using many different materials including: vinyl, cellular pvc, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum clad wood. A double pane window can be produced using single strength or double strength glass for each pane. The glass can then be coated with a low e coating. The low e coating can be applied to one or both panes of the glass. If it is applied to both panes, it is typically referred to as low e2. The low e coating will lessen the ultra violet sun rays and reduce the heat infiltration in the home. The glass coating efficiency will be reflected in the Solar Heat Gain Coefficent (SGHC) rating. The air space between the 2 panes of glass can be filled with a gas with more density than air such as argon or krypton which increases the insulating value of the glass and would be reflected in the U-Value rating. The other things that can affect window replacement prices are grids. Grids can be installed between the 2 panes of glass which is referred to as GBG (grids between the glass); installed on the interior and exterior of the glass which is referred to as SDL (simulated divided lite); or the grids can separate multiple panes of glass which is referred to as TDL (true divided lite). Again, pricing is in the details.
There are two ways a contractor can earn your business. He can try to be the lowest price or the best value. The lowest price typically comes with a large amount of risk. A low price typically means the following: low overhead (lack of capital, needs large down payment), no business location (moves around a lot), no workers compensation insurance, no general liability insurance, no business license, and no contractor’s license. The more items on the above list that applies, the greater the risk to the home owner. The best value is typically achieved when the customer knows exactly what they are going to receive (detailed specifications) from a company that has solid reputation with a history. They will supply a large reference list of previous customers in your area, require little or no down payment, provide proof of insurance with a contact and phone number, proof of business license, and a state contractor’s license.
The “highest price” is the perceived diminished value you will receive from not necessarily the most expensive quote. That’s right. If what you think I described above will result in the most expensive quote, you are wrong. Pricing for all reputable contractors is basic economics. The more material and labor you purchase, the lower the costs you will be able to obtain. Obviously the more material a company purchases, will enable them to negotiate larger discounts from the distributors. In fact, they may be able to buy directly from the manufacturers. Labor is the same way. Do you think a roofing crew would prefer to work 3 days a week on average or 5-6 days on average at a little lower rate? Now don’t start the “you subcontract your work?” It does not matter whether you subcontract your labor or if you have employees doing the work, the people who are good at what they do, highly specialized in their field, want to be paid on their performance, a per job rate, not an hourly rate!
The benefit to you is access to the highest quality craftsmanship, name brand products with superior warranties at the most competitive prices. Remember, pricing is in the details. Don’t make assumptions or rely on verbal commitments. Keep us all (contractors) accountable. The more you keep us accountable to you, the customer, the more we have to account for each other. The greater the competition leads to higher quality materials and workmanship at more competitive prices. But this cannot be obtained without THE DETAILS!
(Click to enlarge)
There are many factors to be examined when purchasing vinyl replacement windows and, therefore, is no straight-forward answer on how much they should cost. When starting the process of shopping around you will need to ask yourself the following questions about your windows and the company you choose to take on the project.
- What type of windows do I need? Prices vary for different types of windows. For example, casements, sliders and specialty shapes are going to be more expensive than basic double hung or picture windows
- Do I want energy efficient windows? The answer to this question should be YES. Energy efficient windows will lower your monthly utility bills, help keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and minimize the fading of furniture, flooring, rugs, etc. Most vinyl replacement windows on the market today are the double pane, low-e coated, argon filled windows that are very energy efficient. Be wary of companies advertising unusually inexpensive windows. They could be cheap windows with no better energy efficiency than older, poorly glazed, single-pane windows.
- What features am I interested in? Pricing will also vary depending on what additional features you are interested in. For instance, you have several options for window grids. Simulated divided light (SDL) grids on the exterior of the window pane are going to be more expensive that grids beween the glass (GBG) or no grids at all. Additional charges will also apply for options such as obscured glass, tempered glass, special colored or stained sashes, screens, special locks, etc.
- Who should install my windows? When shopping for vinyl windows you not only want to choose a company who offers quality windows, but also a company you can trust to install them properly and stand behind their work. Make sure your contractor is fully licensed and insured and offers a lifetime workmanship warranty. You will also want to be sure that your contractor has been trained and certified by the window manufacturer to perform the installation to proper specifications and ensure the best results.
Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. I personally don’t mind paying a little more to get a quality product from a reputable company who will stand behind their work. If you look for the lowest price, chances are you won’t be as satisfied. And finally, research window contractors on websites such as Kudzu.com and Angieslist.com to read specific experiences that customers have had.
When it’s time for window replacement for your home, there are several options for you to choose from. Lets look at two different windows made of the same material but using different manufacturing processes for the window components. Vinyl replacement windows are very common and made using components made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Polyvinyl chloride is a combination of different chemicals, plasticizers and pigments. Polyvinyl chloride is also used to make plumbing pipes, electrical pipes, and many other plastic items. Window components for vinyl replacement windows are extruded and contain hollow chambers. The hollow chambers make for a lighter product and easier for welding the components together.
The second type of window is also made from polyvinyl chloride. However, thru a different type of manufacturing process the components are solid. This material is known as Cellular PVC. Cellular PVC is unlike extruded hollow vinyl as it features a foam or cell-structure inside. It can be nailed, sawn and fabricated like wood. The window components (brickmould, sill, jamb, and sash rails) used to manufacture these windows look exactly like wood windows. Cellular PVC windows are solid and stronger than extruded vinyl windows which are thinner and can lead to warping.
Choosing between the two is difficult because they both have different attributes. Here are some things to consider:
- Architectural Style – Vinyl replacement windows do not look like wood where Cellular PVC windows have the same architectural moldings as traditional wood windows.
- Interior Design – vinyl replacement windows come in 2 interior colors, white and almond or tan. They are not manufactured to be painted. Cellular PVC windows can be painted to match your interior trim.
- Energy Efficiency – Cellular PVC windows solar heat gain and U-factor, as tested by the NFRC, are the same as vinyl replacement windows when using the same glass type.
- Maintenance – vinyl windows will never have to be painted. However, your color choices are limited and the color you choose will be your only future option. Once painted, cellular PVC windows require minimal maintenance.
One major factor to consider is loss of glass space. When replacing wood windows with a vinyl replacement window, there will be a significant loss of glass space. A vinyl window has its own frame and inserts into the existing wood frame of the wood window after the window sashes are removed. So imagine removing the glass from your window, and installing a new enclosed window in a frame where this glass area was. This will result in a significant loss of glass space which will result in a loss of natural light.
Based on the factors above, when replacing your wood windows, cellular PVC windows are your best option and will give you the highest return on your investment.
This is a very common question with homeowners not just after having windows replaced. Sometimes a homeowner may be considering replacing their windows in an effort to cure this problem. To answer these questions lets determine what causes window condensation.
Condensation is visible evidence of moisture in the air. It may appear as water, frost, or ice on the surface of windows and doors. This occurs more frequently during the winter months because of the extreme differences between the inside and outside air temperatures. The warmer the air, the more water the air can hold, which means that the air in the center of any given room will hold more water than the air adjacent to the window or door walls, since this area is always cooler. When the warm, moisture laden air moves toward the cooler window or door wall, it becomes cooler and cannot hold the moisture it held when it was warmer and is dropped and appears as water on the glass and frames of windows and doors.
Windows do not cause condensation, they just happen to be the place where moisture is most visible. Condensation is a sign of excess moisture in the home. This can be caused by factors that may be temporary conditions such as:
- New Construction or Remodeling: Building materials contain a great deal of moisture. As soon as the heat is turned on, this moisture will flow out into the air and settle on door and window glass. This will usually disappear following the first heating season.
- Humid Summers: During humid summers, houses absorb moisture. This will be apparent during the first few weeks of heating and then should dry out.
- Temperature Change: Sharp, quick, and sudden drops in temperature especially during the heating season will create temporary condensation problems.
Condensation can also be caused by more permanent conditions:
- Poor Ventilation: Insufficient attic ventilation and/or soffit ventilation is trap moisture in the home. Having sufficient soffit vents to allow air flow through the attic ventilation will allow moisture and humidity to escape.
- Excessive Humidity: Excessive humidity may be the result of poor ventilation but can also be a result of an imbalanced heating and air system or a need to add additional ventilation such as bathroom or kitchen exhaust vents.
Controlled ventilation and elimination of excessive indoor moisture can keep humidity within bounds. Here are some suggestions to help reduce indoor moisture:
- Turn off or set back furnace humidifiers until sweating (condensation) stops. Remove pots of water on radiators or kerosene heaters.
- Use exhaust fans or open windows slightly in kitchen, bathroom and laundry room during periods of high moisture production such as cooking, taking showers, washing and drying clothes. Clothes driers must be vented outside. Do not hang clothes to dry indoors.
- Keep the basement as dry as possible by waterproofing floors and walls.
- Make sure attic vents are unobstructed.
- Place all house plants in one sunny room where the door can be kept shut and avoid over watering.
- Opening windows slightly for a brief period of time will allow humid air to escape and drier air to enter.
- Use a dehumidifier, properly sized, to reduce the humidity in the house.
Excessive indoor humidity and moisture are not the result of your new windows. You should use the amount and severity of window condensation as a sign that moisture damage may be taking place inside the walls or ceiling cavities of your home. This can lead to rotting wood, deteriorating insulation, and blistering exterior paint.
I think that the more important question is “Does it pay to go cheap?”
Obviously, if you need to replace some windows and doors, there are some issues with the ones you currently have. Such as, your windows or doors may be rotted, your windows may be fogging, your doors might be warped, they may not be energy efficient, or they are just plain ugly and out-of-date or all of the above.
Buying the least expensive window or door for your home is never the best thing to do. They are usually cheap for a reason. In my opinion, it is well worth the extra cost to receive the increased value you receive for an energy efficient PVC or aluminum/clad window unit versus a vinyl replacement window.
Most vinyl replacements are not aesthetically appealing compared to a aluminum clad, PVC, or wood window. You also lose additional glass space with a vinyl replacement window, since they are an encapsulated window designed to install directly into your existing wood window frame. The wood frames are then capped with a coated aluminum trim coil. If the capping is not done correctly, water will seep in behind the aluminum coil and begin to rot the wood frame underneath and you may never know it.
If you choose to install a Full PVC Unit, or Full Aluminum Clad Unit, you can be assured that what you see is what you get; you shouldn’t have any worries about the window frames. After all, peace of mind is what we all want, isn’t it?
If you want a window that will never rot and the freedom to have a variety of color choices… PVC is the best option and value of any window on the market. You lose these options with aluminum clad and vinyl replacement windows because the exterior of the windows are not paintable. PVC windows are made to look identical to a wood window thus keeping the classy look of a real wood window without the possibility of rot. Aluminum clad units and PVC units are as energy efficient as vinyl replacement windows. Even though these full units cost more than a vinyl replacement window, you will notice a huge difference in the appearance and will be glad you decided to pay a little extra.
A great way to add architectural interest to your home is to have casement windows installed. These windows look like picture windows, but they open very easily with a crank. Using casement windows helps you to eliminate the middle check rails on your double hung windows that obstruct your outside view. These windows do cost more than a standard double-hung window. If you plan on staying in your home for an extended period of time, you will be glad you chose these windows in the long run due to the ease of opening and closing.
The front entrance of your home should speak to the person about to open your door. It should say, ”Welcome to our wonderful home!” You can make your door ”speak” in many different ways. It can make or break the whole look of the front of your home.
Spending money to enhance the face of your home will certainly add value. If you have an old dented up 6 panel steel door unit, replace it with something more up-to-date and add a leaded glass design or an updated craftsman style panel door with a small amount of glass a the top.
For heavens sake, get rid of that old ugly storm door and treat yourself to a nice fiberglass door with no-rot jambs. Choose a door your house will appreciate! After all, your home is a reflection of you! Make sure that you invest on the no-rot jambs. It means EVERYTHING to the life of your door. You can expect to replace your door in 5-7 years if you install a door with a wood frame, unless you maintain it regularly. This goes for any product you put on your home. If you spend a little more money up front making sure that these products are rot-proof, you will spend less later on maintaining those products, and spend more time enjoying them.
The same mentality should also be used when choosing a professional contractor to install these products. I recommend a State-Licensed Contractor that will provide you with a written warranty on their installation. Make sure you check out their reviews on Kudzu or Angies List, or with the Better Business Bureau. You wouldn’t ask a dentist to perform open-heart surgery. Make sure that your contractor has a proven track record for installing these quality products on your home. Yes, using a good contractor will also cost you more money, but you will be surprised at how much these professionals can help you save money in the long run by offering creative solutions to your window and door needs with their quality products and services. A good product is useless if not installed properly. So, find a good contractor that is familiar with their products and the benefits of using them and let them show you how paying a little more for quality now, will prevent you from having buyer’s remorse later. You almost always get more when you pay more for home improvements, but you never get more for paying less.