By October 10, 2005

House of Glass

As I mentioned in my fourth post ever on Gibberish, Lady Jaye and I ordered new windows for our home. The installation folks had scheduled us for Saturday, 10/08 well over a month ago. The problem was that it had been raining like a mofo, and we figured they were going to have to reschedule. I changed my cell phone number without notifying the company, and Lady Jaye’s cell phone call log featured a missed call but no voice mail from the installers. Given the rainstorm I drove through on Friday on my way back from DC, I thought for sure that they wouldn’t show.

I went to bed at about 3AM on Saturday morning — a little amped from my drive back, but also from the general excitement from playing AD&D and seeing my DC friends again. I woke up at 7:30AM to the sound of someone knocking loudly on our front door. That meant only one thing: the installers were here, and I was naked. I guess that’s two things.

I stepped into my shorts worn the night before, pulled a fresh t-shirt over my head, and zombied down the stairs. We were all so tired that Porter didn’t even spring out of bed to see who was at the door. Sure enough, it was the installer foreman and his crew.

“DIDN’T THINK WE WERE GONNA SHOW UP WITH THE RAIN, DIDJA?” he said with a grin.

I clapped him on the shoulder. “Holy shit, I’m sorry — I changed my cell phone number on you.”

“It’s okay, we’ll start bringing the windows in.”

I hurriedly cleared the areas around the old windows. I finished the downstairs quickly and moved to my office, which I knew was going to be a major pain in the ass. My monitor weighs about 65 pounds, and I had to move both of my work desks to clear the windows. Lady Jaye was awesome as usual — clearing the bedroom windows and talking Porter outside before I finished in my office.

The Foreman brought along three other fellows Each man was given a particular role, and they immediately went to work. Just like a dog pack, the hierarchy was clear: The Foreman was the alpha; his second in command was an older man wearing a wife beater and shoulder hair; the third man down was a young skinny white kid dressed in baggy black jeans and a black tshirt; the omega position was held by a young black man who was definitely the newest part of their crew. The Foreman gave him different, smaller tasks than the rest of the group, and while the omega’s job was primarily to collect the debris around our house later in the day, his initial duty was to set up the working area outside in our driveway.

The Foreman’s first job was to drink his coffee. Pleased that I was making them a fresh pot of coffee, he walked around our windows with a 2 foot long crowbar and began taking off the window molding. After that was done, he pushed each window out of the house to Wife Beater, who would then throw the window and debris into a trash can, hauled away by Omega. White Kid ran in and out of the house, carrying our new windows to their respective installation points.

Window no more!!

The actual window installation — the part where they put the new window into the house — was pretty cool. There are anchor points on each frame that lock the window to the house until the rest of the installation is complete. This is what allowed the team to put the new windows in so quickly. In most cases, either Wife Beater or The Foreman could manhandle the window by themselves and install them bang-bang-bang after each other. The more precarious ones, such as the windows upstairs, required a helper.

Wife Beater locking the new bay kitchen windows into place.

I was impressed; even stopping for coffee, the entire crew had removed our windows and placed the new ones into the house in a little over an hour. They weren’t done — no, not by a long shot, but the first part of the installation was complete.

The rest of their day wasn’t as quick, or as easy. They had 18 windows to do, and there were many more steps involved in the installation process than just knocking out the old windows and putting in new ones. At 11:30 White Kid and Omega took a lunch break, and then at around 12:30 Wife Beater took off to get something to eat. I don’t think The Foreman left all day, but I assume he took some time off to eat a quick bite during the installation.

The crew was back to four strong by 1:30. The rest of the installation, especially compared to the initial phase, seemed like a total fucking pain in the ass. Someone also removed all the shutters — I’m not exactly sure when they did this. White Kid measured the exterior of all of the windows, and he and Omega began to custom-cut metal flashing for the outside of the house. The metal flashing would help anchor the windows to the house as well as keep rain, debris, critters, etc from getting between the house and the window frame. I think this part took the longest, although by now I was ready for the crew to leave and had stopped taking such studious notes about the install process :). The Foreman and Wife Beater worked on stripping random bits of wood left over from the original windows. I hopped on my bike and tooled around for a half hour while the sky was clear, so I’m not sure if there were extra proceedures that I haven’t chronicled here.

At any rate, the crew still had more steps to finish. They put the shutters back on the front of the house. The Foreman caulked the insides of each window, and Wife Beater used a cordless nail gun to reattach the molding to each window. Omega was given a pitifully underpowered shop vac and began vacuuming the debris inside the house.

By the time all of the men were ready to go it was close to 5PM. Kevin, our salesperson, said that it would take 45 minutes to an hour for each window, and in the end he was right — 18 windows in a touch over 34 minutes a piece. The installation seemed to go without incident, and as far as I can tell their craftsmanship was top notch. There was a slight problem with the right molding on several windows not being fully nailed down, but a quick talk with The Foreman took care of that. The crew was extremely friendly and professional. I especially appreciated their patience with Porter, who was excited that he had four new friends to play with and weaved in and out between their legs all day.

I’ll review the windows separately in another post after I’ve had some time to play with them, but they look awesome. Lady Jaye and I feel that they give the house a more modern look. We were a bit afraid that the white vinyl frames would look goofy in the dark wood molding, but I think it makes the house look very craftsman style, similar to the home I owned in Oregon. The white frames make the house look A LOT brighter on the inside. I was surprised at how something so minor could have such a major difference in how I perceived the interior.

An old office window

New office window hotness.

Old bedroom bay window, with a new window awaiting deployment.

New bedroom windows, ready peeping, sir!

We’ve spent one night with the windows already, and I can definitely tell that we are losing less heat with the new windows in. I really should have checked the power meter before the new windows were put in, but I can tell you this: the air conditioner is running much less frequently now that the new windows are in.

Thus far we’re pleased with our investment. It would be nice to roll our financing into a home equity loan in a year or so, but even now the payments on the windows are pretty low. It would just be an added bonus to make them tax deductible.

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2 Comments on "House of Glass"

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  1. configuratrix says:

    […] I can definitely tell that we are losing less heat with the new windows in. […] the air conditioner is running much less frequently now that the new windows are in.

    One of these sentences is not like the other?

    The new windows in the pictures look nice, especially the bay window. They do seem to lighten things right up.

    I’m glad the installation went well!

  2. drfaulken says:

    Hrm, good point 🙂

    A better way of putting it would be to say that we are losing less cool air with the new windows in. Or if you’re a half-empty cup kinda person, that we’re getting less heat from the outside. Nice catch!