A win­dow into the soul of construction

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate -

Lo­ca­tion may be real es­tate’s best friend, but the view is the home’s soul­mate. Win­dows frame our vi­sion of the out­side world. As more peo­ple are looking for the best pos­si­ble per­spec­tive, they are also hunt­ing for smart ways to in­crease the value of their homes.

Win­dows are a good start­ing point.

Newer, big­ger, wider, taller, more ef­fi­cient win­dows are a hot up­grade for home­own­ers. Now there are more op­tions than ever.

Christo­pher Sim­monds, one of Ottawa’s lead­ing ar­chi­tects, works on the premise that, aside from pro­vid­ing shel­ter, a house is pri­mar­ily a place to ex­pe­ri­ence na­ture from within.

“For me, win­dows are all im­por­tant. So when we are de­sign­ing a house, we are al­ways think­ing, what are the views try­ing to cap­ture? Is it a tall tree? Is it a hori­zon? And how wide should we take the win­dow to cap­ture the view (but) screen out what we don’t want to see, like the side of a neigh­bour’s house or the road.”

In the past, win­dows were the ab­so­lute weak­est link in the home, says Sim­monds, who has crafted a rep­u­ta­tion for con­nect­ing in­side and out­side spa­ces by us­ing a lot of glass.

In the early years, when log cabins were the house of choice, peo­ple built small win­dows for struc­tural rea­sons and be­cause they let in the cold.

Tech­nolo­gies have vastly im­proved, even if win­ters are still raw, and many Cana­di­ans are at­tracted to a Mediter­ranean con­cept of liv­ing with lots of light.

“There is such a de­sire to open up to the out­side to cre­ate this in­te­gra­tion,” says Sim­monds. “For­tu­nately we have the tech­nol­ogy to go along with it.

It’s com­mon to see triple-glazed win­dows with low-e coat­ings and ar­gon gas, says the ar­chi­tect.

“The ther­mal per­for­mance of th­ese win­dows is sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter, three or four times bet­ter, than win­dows used to be 25 or 30 years ago.”

Man­otick Win­dows and Doors owner Bob Milne has also seen a lot of changes in the past 20 years, with own­ers of older homes and those build­ing new homes looking for the best win­dows to stop drafts, re­sist mould and rot and pro­vide added se­cu­rity.

Typ­i­cally, they choose from four types of frames that carry their own strengths and weak­nesses. Th­ese in­clude PVC, fi­bre­glass, wood and alu­minum. PVC win­dows PVC, or polyvinyl chlo­ride, are well suited for buy­ers looking for ex­tremely low main­te­nance. Th­ese win­dows re­quire no paint­ing in­side or out­side; and are pop­u­lar for starter homes right up to mil­lion-dol­lar prop­er­ties.

“You don’t have to paint against weather strip­ping,” says Milne, adding the frames come in trendy colours, in­clud­ing shades of brown, grey, and green. “You don’t have to paint against han­dles or cranks. You just clean your win­dows.”

Milne notes one of the down­sides to PVC is its ten­dency to ex­pand.

So why would you want it?

“PVC is the most eco­nom­i­cal prod­uct on the mar­ket right now,” says Milne. “So say win­dows are $10,000 in PVC, they may be $14,000 in fi­bre­glass.”

Given PVC is ex­tremely cost ef­fi­cient, they are the cur­rent in­dus­try stan­dard - which is why most com­pa­nies that make the cranks and the hard­ware for win­dow com­pa­nies are de­sign­ing them mostly for vinyl win­dows.

The price: A 60-by 60-inch pic­ture win­dow costs be­tween $900 to $1,100, in­stalled. Fi­bre­glass Fi­bre­glass has been around for years, but it’s still a rel­a­tively small player in the world of win­dows. Its big ad­van­tage is that it ex­pands very lit­tle, al­low­ing the caulk­ing that holds the seal to out­last other in­stal­la­tions.

“Fi­bre­glass does not ex­pand any dif­fer­ently than glass,” says Milne. “It’s made of glass. It’s glass fi­bres.”

Peo­ple con­cerned about hav­ing the high­est en­ergy ef­fi­ciency will search out fi­bre­glass prod­ucts. But they come with a higher price tag, and there are some lim­i­ta­tions, such as it’s hard to get them made into cir­cu­lar shapes and curves.

The price: A 60-by 60-inch pic­ture win­dow costs be­tween $1,300 to $1,500, in­stalled. Wood Wood is the orig­i­nal win­dow frame ma­te­rial, but th­ese days it’s usu­ally used for high-end jobs and comes with reg­u­lar main­te­nance.

“It’s usu­ally some­one who ap­pre­ci­ates a wood fin­ish on the in­side,” says Milne. Given Ottawa’s weather ex­tremes, it’s hard to keep paint on a wood win­dow. Wooden win­dows usu­ally have alu­minum cladding on the out­side and wood on the in­side.

“Some peo­ple for­get the wood and then let it go. Then it peels in­side and it’s not as good a look as the vinyl win­dow. They are not great in this cli­mate.”

The price: Wood win­dows have a big­ger price range, just like wood fur­ni­ture, be­cause there will be dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties of wood. Prices range be­tween $900 and $2,000 for a 60-by 60-inch pic­ture win­dow, in­stalled. Alu­minum Alu­minum has been widely used in high-rises for its strength and longevity, which is of ut­most im­por­tance when deal­ing with high winds sev­eral floors up.

They are light, strong, low-main­te­nance and eas­ily formed into com­plex shapes. How­ever, they con­duct the cold, so it will tend to be a chill­ier win­dow.

“You go on the bal­cony of a 17th-floor apart­ment build­ing and feel the wind blow­ing. You want a win­dow that’s stronger to hold that glass,” says Milne.

He says alu­minum ex­pands a cer­tain amount too. “It’s less than vinyl, but more than wood or fi­bre­glass.”

The price: Sim­i­lar to vinyl for a 60-by 60-inch win­dow, rang­ing be­tween $900 to $1,200, in­stalled. Styles & bud­get The next step is to con­sider the style and your bud­get, says Chris Danko, man­ager of the Vinyl & Alu­minum Ware­house in Ottawa.

Un­like Milne, Danko’s com­pany is strictly whole­sale. He says if a cus­tomer wants the win­dows in­stalled by a rep­utable com­pany, he sug­gests they dou­ble the price of the win­dow and add about 15 per cent.

The spec­trum of cost ranges from the pic­ture win­dow, which is the cheapest, to a dou­ble op­er­at­ing case­ment where the two win­dows both crank out.

Most cus­tomers are looking for En­ergy Star prod­ucts, which can range from dou­ble pane up to quadru­ple pane for en­hanced ther­mal ef­fi­ciency, with heat re­flec­tive coat­ing. The best way to check a man­u­fac­turer’s rat­ing while shop­ping around is by vis­it­ing: www.en­er­gys­tar.gov.

Win­dows with ar­gon gas help in­su­late against sound, heat and cold pen­e­tra­tion. And heat-re­flect­ing coat­ing, or low emis­siv­ity (lowe) is ap­plied to the in­side sur­face of one or more panes to pre­vent heat trans­fer from es­cap­ing from the in­side out, says Danko.

Some low-e ver­sions also helps pro­tect against ul­tra-vi­o­let light, which can dam­age fur­nish­ings.

Danko’s most pop­u­lar win­dow prod­uct is vinyl. He says a 72-by 60-inch vinyl pic­ture win­dow is $495 whole­sale; sin­gle, side slid­ers are $504.75; while a dou­ble op­er­at­ing en­case­ment, where both win­dows crank out­ward are $741.46, which are the most ef­fi­cient.

“The case­ment and awning win­dows have a bet­ter en­ergy rat­ing over­all in the frame,” says Danko, adding the slid­ing ver­sions are less struc­tural and tech­ni­cally less ef­fi­cient.

“You are get­ting bet­ter in­su­la­tion in the frame, and there is less air/wa­ter fil­tra­tion be­cause they are a tighter seal with the mod­ern ver­sions. It’s not like the old fash­ioned ones that wouldn’t shut all the way, the wood warps and the hard­ware is the pits. There’s more to the frame.”

The crank style is the most pop­u­lar, how­ever, they are also the most ex­pen­sive. If peo­ple are build­ing new and are in a bud­get strug­gle they are usu­ally go­ing to try to put the case­ments on the front face of the house for in­creased re­sale value.

“It has more curb ap­peal,” says Danko. “Then if they are go­ing to bud­get them­selves, they’ll put slid­ing win­dows or vertical slides, in the base­ment, sides, and bath­room.”

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