Terrific Broth

The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Tag: Windows

OMG OMG OMG We Got New Windows!

IMG_8894

Hallelujah, we finally updated all the windows!

IMG_8842

IMG_8766

IMG_8888

We used to have aluminum windows throughout the main floor of our ranch. Since day 1, Slav has been wanting to replace them. I do not blame him. The old aluminum windows lack both form and function. They are dingy, hard to clean, and do a terrible job insulating the cold/heat and noise.

IMG_8950

IMG_7863

The pictures above show the old aluminum windows on the back and the north side of the house. These are windows in the kitchen, our bedroom, and the office:

IMG_8674

IMG_6223

The previous owners added more layers to insulate, which made it impossible to clean between the layers:

IMG_8642

IMG_8645

IMG_8675

IMG_8633

Some of the windows are so rusted that they do not open. During winter months,  condensation formed and mold was growing along the window frames:

IMG_8684

Colorado is so dry that we do not usually deal with mold problems. But these windows were exception. Needless to say that we were ready for this upgrade for a long time. So when DesignCrew, who did our basement egress gave us a very reasonable quote, we jumped on it with both feet. Their quote does not only include replacing 7 old aluminum windows with custom vinyl windows, but also includes the cost of making the office window bigger.

IMG_3374

The picture above shows the old office window on the left, and the living room window on the right. You can see the office window was shorter. To bring some symmetry to the front of the house we wanted to make the office window taller so it would match the height of the living room window.

IMG_8655

Making this window taller requires cutting the brick window sill off, removing a few rows of bricks below the sill, and building the sill back up again. The DesignCrew guys subcontracts the brick work to a masonry contractor so the quality of the brick work is professional.

In the morning of the window installation, we pushed everything away from the old windows and covered our stuff.

IMG_8671

IMG_8665

The crew arrived after 8 AM and worked their way from the inside out, so they can clean after themselves effectively. Lee, the father of the company started to enlarge the front office window (the left window in the picture above) right away, while Ryan (one of his sons) worked on the smaller window on the north side (the right one in the pictured above).

IMG_8712

The bricks were removed before the windows were taking down. Lee, the guy in the picture explained to me that doing things in this order prevented the dust from entering the house. I really like how methodical and organized these guys work. Cannot recommend the DesignCrew enough!

Within an hour the bricks demo was done. Lee then removed the window and trimmed the wood framing to meet the new opening on the exterior brick. You can see how much we were lowering the sill from the picture below:

IMG_8717

IMG_8720

Before noon, the new opening was done and I had a rare opportunity to peak into our exterior walls.

IMG_8725

IMG_8727

Apparently our brick house was constructed in the following layers: a layer of brick, a layer of insulation board, then interior wood framing. There is no insulation between the interior studs as we discovered during the ethernet cable installation.

IMG_8721

It is so cool to be able to look into the walls – I love the mechanical aspect of the house a lot more than the finishes. Maybe one day we will build a house from scratch!

IMG_8728

The rebuilding of the window was pretty quick. I snapped the last picture above and went for a walk in the neighborhood. By the time I was back, the new window was up!

IMG_8781

The new and bigger window let in so much more light and the office was instantly brighter:

IMG_8839

And we can see a lot more of the front yard garden now with a lower sill. All the flower beds are visible as soon as you walk into the office. This new window has become my favorite spot in the morning. I love sipping my tea while watching birds and flowers in the comfort of my pj.

IMG_8740

All the new windows facing the front and back are double-slider windows – both glass panels are movable and can stop at any position along the window track. The panels can also be pop off easily from the inside for easy cleaning. Each window comes with a bug screen which is a continuous one-piece. The screen can be removed for clearer view. This feature is useful during winter months when we do not open the windows.

Lee saved all the sill bricks during demo so the masonry contractor could re-point them back onto the wall.

IMG_8845

He also replaced the bricks on the side that were cut into halves with bricks taken from the bottom of the window, so the wall on both sides of the new window looks seamless.

IMG_8843

And this is the new look in the front of the house! Doesn’t it look much better with both windows at the same height?

IMG_8842

Compared to this:

IMG_3374

So satisfying!

While Lee tackled the office window, Ryan worked on replacing the two small windows on the north side.

IMG_8718

We rarely open these small windows due to the furniture placement. All they are there for is letting the light in. To have a better view we opted for awning windows, a decision we are so happy with.

IMG_8750

IMG_8894

We anticipated that awning windows will appear bigger, but we did not think it would look THIS much bigger and better. The unobstructed view out of these windows looks like a picture and instantly made the rooms feel more finished. In the bathroom downstairs we chose a hopper which is also without the middle frame. For small windows I highly recommend this approach. It also made the windows look bigger from the outside.

IMG_8888

And there will be no more mold!

IMG_8752

IMG_8753

Also replaced are the kitchen windows:

IMG_8864

IMG_8744

IMG_8870

Which Roxie is clearly excited about:

IMG_8874

And the other window in our  bedroom. Directly below is the egress window DesignCrew put in for us back in January.

IMG_8770

A much better view of the backyard from our bed:

IMG_8755

The last window we replaced is in the garage! The old aluminum one was completely rusted and could not open.

IMG_8691

IMG_8700

And here is the new one:

IMG_8773

IMG_8760

We have been living with the new windows for a couple weeks now and really like them. We no longer hear traffic on the street, and every room is a lot brighter. The temperature inside is a lot more stable, and opening and closing the windows have been a breeze.

IMG_8842

IMG_8766

In addition to the comfort, upgrading the windows brought such an instant upgrade to our curb appeal. We keep asking ourselves why we had not done it sooner! After removing the old front porch, installing a new roof, putting in new landscaping, building a new horizontal fence, and now with brand new windows, we finally checked off all the big items on our exterior renovation list. Remember the front of the house when we bought it?

Ranch house - 1

A very different view today:

IMG_8842

Now we can finally move into the decorative elements for the exterior. Slav has been wanting to add stone veneer to the bare foundation, and I’ve been dreaming about climbing clematis on over-window pergolas. Slav is also very motivated to paint the gables and the garage door darker to better match the bronze trims and gutters – or I should say, to let me paint the gables and the garage door darker. This summer will be full of small and fun projects to continue improving our curb appeal, and I cannot wait!

New Egress Window in The Master

IMG_6068

Egress window came to our minds when we decided to move our master bedroom into the basement. Colorado weather is dry and each summer our city issues fire warning for several months. Adding an egress in our basement bedroom not only improves fire safety, but also brings our house to code for future resale.

We also want a bigger window in the basement for better ventilation. The summer nights here are cool and it is more comfortable to sleep with windows open than using air conditioning. For maximum privacy, we decided to install the new egress in place of the existing bedroom window facing the backyard.

IMG_5926

Above was what the east side of the bedroom looked like on last Tuesday, and below was the same angle on Saturday! You have to see it in person to appreciate how much difference the new window makes.

IMG_6077

As expected, the new egress brings much more light into the bedroom. The light color window well also helps to reflect light inside.

IMG_6073

We did not DIY the egress ourselves. Instead, we hired DesignCrew, who specializes in egress windows and have done work in our neighborhood on similar houses. Egress installation involves cutting into concrete foundation, which we have neither tools nor skill for.

IMG_6033

The foundation cutting was done from the outside of the house. The window closer to the downspout in the picture above is the one we replaced with egress. When grading around the foundation we put down 6-mil plastic and gravel around the foundation, both of which had to be removed for the window replacement.

IMG_6035

Egress window has many codes and regulations due to fire safety. We went with standard dimensions and location, with only one customization: lower the window well as much as possible so we can see the backyard. We never like standard window wells, especially the look from the inside. Since our backyard slopes down from the house, we have the option of installing the new well a few inches below the old level to get a better view of the garden.

IMG_6034

Several codes dictate where the egress window shall be installed. First, the window has to be less than 44″ from the floor of the bedroom. Second,  the window opening – not necessarily the size of the window – needs to be at least 5.7 sqft. Our current window is 32″ wide. So we chose a 32″ x 48″ casement window to satisfy these requirements.

DesignCrew moved fast. On the first day, a back hoe drove in (through our walk gate!) to excavate the soil around the window.

IMG_6037

IMG_6039

It was sad to see the window well we installed gone. But the demo contractor said that we did a great job installing it. So there is that.

IMG_6043

Another worker came over the second day to cut the window opening with a diamond blade saw. On the third day, the concrete block was pulled out and the window well was installed.

IMG_6045

IMG_6048

You can see the new window opening on the foundation from the picture below. The framing and drywall inside were cut away later. After installing the window well, the soil was backfilled and packed down around the well and the foundation.

IMG_6060

The bottom of the well was graded so the soil base slopes away from the house. Pea gravel was applied on top to facilitate the drainage.

IMG_6056

This was the look from the inside right before the drywall was cut and the window was installed. The old window opening looked so small! It was only 18″ tall and we could not see any part of the backyard from the old window.

IMG_6050

On the fifth day we welcomed window installation. The plywood was removed and the drywall behind the new opening was cut off:

IMG_6067

Before any part of the window going in, the concrete opening was polished to create a smooth surface to which the window sill plate and jamb could be glued down.  The aggregates in concrete looked so pretty!

IMG_6064

The sill plates went in next. It was cut to size on site using pre-treated lumber.

IMG_6069

Everything was screwed to the studs. From the picture below you can see the well was installed a few inches below the window sill, which prevents water penetration during rain storms. The well was cut short according to our request, so no ladder is needed inside of the wall for an adult person to escape (by code).

IMG_6071

After securing the new window onto the sill and jamb on each side, the gaps around the window casing was filled and window trims were installed. We picked the simplest design of the trim to match the existing ones around the doorways.

IMG_6072

The egress can be opened from the top like a hopper window to let cool air in. We plan to put our bed against this wall we can see the night sky from our bed. 🙂

IMG_6079

Below is what the window looks like from the inside today. The soil behind the window well is leftover from the backfill. We will be relocating it to a future garden bed. Once it is out of the way we should be able to see more of the backyard.

IMG_6075

The window casing outside is also finished nicely. We picked white color to match the existing basement windows.

IMG_6085

IMG_6088

The new metal cover is strong enough for me to walk on it:

IMG_6090

We would like to scrape the soil around both window wells a bit lower and layer the plastic and gravel back around the foundation. You can tell from the picture below that the new well was installed much lower than bathroom window well.

IMG_6084

Speaking of the bathroom window, we now have a new one! Remember how bad it was? We had a hard time replacing it ourselves due to its non-standard size. DesignCrew custom-made one for us and installed it with the egress window:

IMG_6092

It might not look impressive from the outside because of our rusted window sill. But it is the perfect window for this small bathroom. It is tempered for safety, obscured for privacy, and a hopper style so we can open it from the top to let moisture out. We are very happy with the result:

IMG_6095

Much better from the old window:

IMG_5944

It is so nice to cross the basement window work off our to-do list. We are also very pleased with the professional work our contractor did. This is the first time any contractor moved faster than I could anticipate, which was scary but exciting at the same time. We signed the contract on Jan 11th and by the 19th, all the work was completed. It is pretty impressive given that the excavation, foundation cutting, window well installation, and window installation was done by four different teams of contractors, plus a custom-made window. If you live in Denver area and wanted to do some window/door work, I highly recommend DesignCrew.

With the egress window installed and bathroom window replaced, we are moving onto the next phrase of the future master suite construction. Plumbing, electrical, and new insulation float to the top of the priority list. Cannot wait to show you our progress in the next post!

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén