Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Great Window Saga

It all started with a quiet crash. I was cleaning, the kids were quietly playing inside the house and my husband was outside mowing the lawn. Since the kids appeared to be ok and the dog was in her typical do nothing pose, I figured it was from our neighbors. Then Jeff came inside.

"I need you to come outside."

"Why?"

"Just come outside. Kids stay inside, ok?"

Somehow he had managed to hit a small rock with the riding mower that then flew up into our daughter's second story window. Thankfully the rock only went through the outside window, leaving the inside storm window intact. We cleaned up as much as we could and took stock of the situation.

Over the course of three years we had come to the conclusion that our old, wood Pella windows were not nearly as good as they had been when they were installed years ago. We knew we needed new windows but we were going to put it off as long as we could. There were other projects that we wanted to complete first. There were other things we wanted to spend money on instead.

Now our hand had been forced. Our daughter's window needed to be replaced before winter and so we got estimates from a couple places in early June. Window installation was not something we wanted to attempt on our own so we knew we would have to pay for the labor. We finally made the difficult decision that it was going to be more beneficial to replace all of the bedrooms windows and most of the dining and living area windows. Not only would it be an aesthetic improvement but we knew that our windows were far from energy efficient. We found a good deal, were told that they could be installed by the end of the July, and signed the paperwork.

Teachers try to pack as much into the summer months as possible. One glance through this blog should make that perfectly clear. We wanted the windows done before school started. We NEEDED the windows done before school started. We couldn't justify one of us taking time off of work when I had already had time away from work and was available right then.

We were told that the windows were in the store in early July and then we waited and waited, but we never got a call to schedule. When we finally got a hold of someone to schedule, they told me that they had more orders than expected and they wouldn't be able to schedule us until the end of the August. Angry and frustrated my husband and I both started a series of phone calls that finally ended in them finding subcontractors to do our windows for us before the official start of school.

Notice that I said the official start of school. I still had things to do. I had a classroom that needed to be prepped, papers to print and copy, meetings to attend, and colleagues to meet with so we could plan for the year in our respective common classes. It was the start of August, the kids were back at daycare and I was in full teacher mode. They said they could start the Wednesday before school started. I spent all day Wednesday at our house working on the computer and cleaning the house. First I had to wait for them to arrive and then I sat and worked while they spent nearly six hours installing two windows. That's right, two windows. We had a grand total of thirteen windows being installed. They were nice enough guys, appeared to be doing good work, but they were taking forever to do the work. It turns out that one of the two guys had never done replacement windows in old construction. He was used to doing windows for new construction, which explained some of the difficulty. I was assured that they had a pattern down and they would be able to get a lot done on the next day. Thursday morning I headed to my meeting while my husband worked from home all morning. I raced home early from my meeting so that he could go to his meeting and then again worked from home while they worked. By the end of the day all but four replacement windows had been installed. However, three of those windows were going to be the most complicated windows to replace because they were going into our bay window in the dining room.

My husband and I followed the same schedule that Friday, splitting the day in half. When I got back home around noon the bay window replacement still had not taken place and it appeared that little had been done. That afternoon the guy responsible for wrapping the outside of all the windows finally showed up and started wrapping the windows halfway through day three of the installation. By the time they left in the afternoon all the windows were replaced but the finish work still needed to be done. What we had been told would be a three day project was suddenly a four day project. So much for me spending Monday working in my classroom.

Several phone calls later to figure out what was going on with the windows, it was determined that all they had to do was exterior work so we should just be able to leave. The boss suggested that I could just leave the garage open so that they could have access to all their tools. Uh, no. That wasn't happening. When they showed up over half an hour late on Monday morning I asked them to empty their stuff out of the garage so that I could leave for school. That was supposed to be the end of it. It wasn't. As I was headed out to lunch with some of my colleagues I got a phone call saying they needed to get into the house so they could more easily reach the window off of our master bedroom deck. Yes, it would be easier to reach from the inside, but I needed to get work done!

I headed home and continued my work from home, panicking because once again I was spending time at home instead of in my classroom. By the end of the day two windows still needed to be wrapped, tools were placed back into the garage, and we were left to wonder if they were making a career out of our window replacement.

By the end of day five our window work was finally completed. The windows look good and I'm shocked at the difference they make to the aesthetic appearance of our bedrooms and living room. I really didn't think they would make that much of a difference. We'll know in a couple months how much of a difference they make in our heating and cooling bills as those start to come in. And for the first time since we moved into the house I can open ALL of our windows to let in the cooler air. That being said the whole process was way more complicated than we wanted it to be and I would say that I learned a couple things.

One, if we want contractors to do work that we cannot do ourselves we need to make those plans sometime in March or April if we want those tasks to be completed by the end of my summer vacation.

Two, having other people work on our house doesn't necessarily mean fewer headaches, it just means different headaches. If I'm being honest, we could not have done the task even in the time that they did it and it probably wouldn't have been done as well. And I know that there are future tasks at our house that will also need contractor work, but this whole process wasn't headache free.

But we have another home improvement project knocked off of our list and I am relieved that it is done. Now, on to painting and staining trim so I can get those curtains up.

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