THE BASICS OF HOW TO AVOID MISTAKES WITH RESIDENTIAL WINDOWS
As we start a fresh new year in 2017, I wanted to publish a Blog that might help folks make better decisions about ordering windows before mistakes are made! If you’ve never ordered windows before, and/or you are a novice, please read my Blog. All of my RULES come from experiences we’ve encountered here at Ringer Windows over the last 10 years where folks have made mistakes. If this Blog helps one person avoid mistakes, I’ll consider it a success!
HOW TO AVOID MISTAKES WITH RESIDENTIAL WINDOWS:
When ordering, quoting, or talking about windows & doors, the industry accepted standard is to list the width first and height second! NO EXCEPTIONS!!! If you want a window that’s 36” wide by 72” tall, you should ALWAYS list it as 36” x 72”. Example: If you list your potential window at a 72” x 36” measurement, we will likely make it as a horizontal slider that’s 72” wide and 36” tall. You can see the problem, especially if you wanted a single hung that was 36” wide!
Window Types & Terminology Are:
- Single Hung – Vertical Up & Down Window (Top sash is fixed and the bottom sash slides up and down)
- Architectural Single Hung – This is also a vertical Up & Down Window but it’s made with an elliptical top in most cases.
- Double Hung – Vertical Up & Down Window (Both the bottom and top sashes slide up and down)
- Horizontal Single Slider – This window includes one fixed and one operable sash. The operable sash slides horizontally.
- Fixed Picture Window – These are frame and glass only and do NOT open. They can be square shaped, rectangle, elliptical shapes (arch), triangles, trapezoid, or elliptical. If you want a shape, it’s best to include a drawing to avoid confusion!
- Casement – Often called Crank-Out, these look like picture windows but the window is comprised of one large operable sash that opens from a side hinge system (much like a door).
- Awning – This is similar to a Casement window except it has a scissor hinge at the bottom and it opens from the bottom.
Know the difference between a Call Size and Custom Size window or door. Builders, remodelers, and everyone in the professional building trades commonly refer to windows and doors using Call Sizes. One of the most commonly sized windows used in residential settings is a 3050 Single Hung Window. We pronounce 3050 as “Three-Zero/Five-Zero”. The 3050 designation identifies that this size window will fit into a new construction rough opening that’s framed at 36” wide by 60” tall (not 30 inches by 50 inches).
The 30 part of the designation means that the window is designed to fit into an opening that’s 3 Feet Wide Zero Inches wide. The 50 designates that the window opening will be 5 Feet Zero Inches tall. So, if you wanted to order a window designed to fit into an opening that was framed-up at 32” wide by 66” tall, the Call Size would be 2856 (2 Feet 8 Inches Wide by 5 Feet 6” Tall). We’d call this a Two-Eight/Five-Sixwindow.
The mistake that amateurs sometimes make is to read building plans and subsequently order windows based on inches rather than the Call Size. We try to catch these mistakes as often as we can and it helps if the client sends us copies of their plans so we can confirm what they actually need. Here at Ringer Windows, we take extra steps and list the ACTUAL SIZE of the finished windows on our order confirmations, to help alleviate this problem. We always confirm order sizes in writing as well, to help alleviate this potential issue but a few slip through now and then. Once a window is made, it can’t be changed!
Specify the type of windows you want! Sometimes, windows come in multiple styles for the same size, particularly with square windows. For example, a 48” wide x 48” tall window is a fairly common size, found in many homes. We commonly make FOUR windows that are 48” by 48”, with a Single Hung, Double Hung, Horizontal Slider, and a Fixed Picture Window. DON’T ASSUME we know which type of window you want or you might accidentally end-up with the wrong type of window. Although we do confirm your order in writing, people don’t always catch these details. Once an order is confirmed and produced, you own the window so please think about the kinds of windows you want. If you are not sure, ask your Ringer Window Representative to help! We are here to guide you!
If you’re not sure about the size, color, or style of window or door you need, don’t order it until you are! Here at Ringer Windows, once you place your order, we collect funds, order glass, and begin building your windows, sometimes within 24 hours. Once the process is begun and we make the windows and/or glass, it’s too late to change! This is why we try to confirm all our orders in writing. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen very often but please do not assume you have a few days to change your mind about sizes, colors, options, or styles once you place your initial order. Of course, if we haven’t started, we are more than happy to change but our emphasis on being quick with our production is what many folks come to Ringer Windows!
If you are building a home or involved with a remodeling project, particularly in Austin where the Building Inspectors have a reputation for being very particular, make sure you know the building codes! Many folks act as their own General Contractors and that’s OK! However, you should know all the building codes about windows and doors before you place your order. Once a set of windows are made, there’s no changing your order without spending additional dollars to correct your mistakes!
We bid these types of jobs all the time and it really helps if we have a set of building plans so that we may make recommendations. However, we sometimes bid windows without benefit of building plans. Even if you have the guidance of an Architect or Building Professional, it’s not uncommon to discover a few windows that will not pass or meet code. We do our best to bid window packages that meet all local codes as best we can.
Allow enough time! Order your windows early! People sometimes assume that they can simply order their windows in a few days but that rarely works. Here at Ringer, we stock one of the largest inventories of ready-made stock windows in Texas but we rarely stock every window that you’ll need. Windows need to be installed as soon as the framing goes up! EVERYTHING wraps around windows so the order of installation puts windows right at the beginning of the job! Order windows early!
Take control of your window selection and don’t get cheap! The fact is, most Builders use cheaply made new construction windows for their homes. Sadly, there is little attention to windows with respect to longevity, quality, appearance, and energy efficiency. Builders tend to focus on the more “showy” things like flooring, plumbing fixtures, and lighting. Here at Ringer Windows, we run a “very active & healthy” full-service replacement window business so we replace these types of windows every day!
However, if you’re a homeowner building a new home, I urge you to take control of your window selections if you have the opportunity. The truth is, you will spend slightly more up front on a set of superior windows that feature excellent energy efficiency and rock-solid reliability. Superior windows will save you money on your HVAC cost from Day Number One and never stop. Some of our Ringer Windows are so efficient that they’ll enable you to install a smaller HVAC system, costing less initially AND less to operate over a lifetime.
Secondly, superior windows will likely NEVER suffer seal failures or break down with broken balances. If you’ve ever had foggy or cloudy windows with failed seals, it’s costly to repair and there’s no guarantee that it will last more than a couple of years.
Furthermore, anyone who’s every experienced a window that won’t open or stay-in-place knows the pain of cheaply made windows. Superior windows will likely never have seal failures nor will you have to suffer through windows that won’t open or hold their position.
My last suggestion for potential homeowners is to think about creative ways to spice-up your window selections. Builders are quite happy to order the same set of commonly used windows and sizes that they always have. Remember, builders like EASY so custom things take time and cost more. Builders tend to shy away from anything that costs more or requires customization. I’ve lost track of how many people we’ve helped by simply showing them all the things they could do to “jazz-up” their window selections with simple things like different window configurations or window types. Very few of these types of suggestions add cost, but they make a HUGE difference in the way a home looks!
If you use or find any of my suggestions helpful, I hope you’ll drop me a line or post an online review for others. Feel free to share this information. Ringer Windows is located in Central Texas, in Taylor. We offer full service replacement window services as well as direct window sales to the Public and Building Professionals. We service Austin, San Antonio, Waco, and all of Central Texas! We can be reached at 512-989-7000