window tornado

scene: men's workboot foot prints leading from the door, to the kitchen, up the stairs, down the stairs, and outside again. a thin layer of dusk covers every horizontal surface. the cats aren't quite sure why the basement door is open. wires, machinery, boards, tools, toolboxes, and ladders are leaned up against the walls, in corners, and strewn about the house. there is man pee under the seat of the toilet.

i describe the condition of my home every day that i have returned from work the last two days. i'm having my windows replaced. rather, the windows have been replaced.

i ordered new windows soon after i closed. the existing windows were horrid. most were rotted, cracked, non-functional. one didn't even have a meeting rail. i sometimes wonder how the previous tenants dealt with their condition. even though they were in extreme disrepair, i have to admit, they were a turn-on. not in the sense that i loooove me some crappy windows, but in the sense that i'm a historic architecture nerd and these were the original windows.

how do i know this?

well, just looking at my house, i can tell right away.. because i do that for a living. but i also did a bit of reserach and discovered that my block was constructed at the turn of the century; some time between 1895 and 1900. during this period, a new method for mass producing larger sheets of glass to create sashes with one piece of glass, rather than two, four, or six pieces of small sheets divided by muntins, was invented. now, at the time, these one-over-one windows were cutting edge and more fashionable and more expensive. so they were put on the fronts of new houses, while the old style two-over-twos and six-over-six windows were used for the rears. my house had original two-over-twos and six-over-six in the rear as well.

i hated to part with the wood material or pane configuration so i decided to try and hold on to the aesthetic... at least for the first floor and front of the second floor and basement. i decided to bend and go with yucky vinyl on the rear because no one sees those ones, but me. i consulted with Architectural Window of Philadelphia because we work with them a lot at my job. they do a lot of windows that replicate the historic profiles while maintaining energy efficiency and modern window technology. after going around for wood window estimates, they seemed the the most reasonable. expensive, but reasonable.

i knew i was getting $8,000 from the government for the first-time home buyer credit so i figured i could splurge this on the windows. and that's pretty much what the final bill came to. a punch in the purse, but worth it, in my book. i mean, if you think about it, besides masonry, what else makes up the envelope of a house? = the windows and doors.

by june my order was in and by august i had 8 giant windows sitting in my living room staring at me to paint. (i decided to paint them myself because having them factory-painted added about $100 per window). dad brought down some saw horses and a drop cloth. kristin set me up with brushes. now the question was - color?

i ran through the Benjamin Moore historic color palette and nothing really excited me. i wanted to do the right thing and maintain the "historic appearance" in materials, but that didn't mean i'd have to sacrifice my personal taste or flare in color. so i thought of my favorite color: green. and i settled on the Split Pea Green. it's bright, fun, and totally me!

i bought a quart of the "Aura" line because the guy at the store said it preserves color the best for elevations in direct sunlight.. blah blah blah. "team we" went right to work.

side note: team we = kristin. a term borrowed from my derby friend dara. i say alot, "we should really paint those windows" or "we should make dinner tonight" or "we need to make cookies for so-and-so." and usually "we" turns into kristin... because princess becky isn't very handy, or culinary, or motivated when it comes to physical tasks that require skill ... or movement in general.

team we (and i helped!) spent the next month and a half painting the windows. we puttied, sanded, taped, painted, and painted again till the weekend before installation we were finally done.

i made an appointment for installation and 7am tuesday morning, they were there. before i got out of the shower at 7:30am they already knocked out a window. by the time i got home from work, the entire front of the house was replaced with brand new bright green windows. yesterday the entire rear was replaced. now all they have left to do is the trim work and some rear capping.

last evening i took a good look at the work and could see immediately that my work has not ended. they used white caulk to seal up the window openings, which i should have forseen, but didn't think of it. so now i have to paint the caulk once it dries thoroughly. there are also white vinyl jamb-liners in the track of the windows that i didn't think would be so obvious, but they are. a specification error that i'll just have to live with. i think i notice these things more than the average human because of what i do. we're going to paint the door this weekend so the starkness of the windows should blend a bit better with the rest of the house.

lessons learned:

- for wood windows: ask thoroughly about how to paint windows if you're doing that portion yourself. don't paint the sides and use a very high-quality paint. you don't want to skimp on new wood. wood rots fast if it's not well-maintained.

- try to schedule installation when the weather's nice. they can't work in wet conditions.

- COVER EVERYTHING with drop cloths, sheets, or plastic. i didn't and now i have to vacume and wipe down the dust that caked on EVERYTHING.

- leave your installers a case of beer or something as a thanks. leave out some delivery menus for lunch too.

- hide all personal or "bedroom" items and pictures that may reveal anything you don't want any other stranger to know about. make-out shots with your lesbian girlfriend, love notes enscrawled on the dry-erase board about how sexy you are, bras and underware laying on the floor... just do a walk-through and hide it BEFORE you realize it's been sitting out the whole day.

- look into tax-incentive requirements BEFORE you place your order. Energy Star recently upped their Solar Coefficient to .30 in June 2009. any windows that met their previous requirement would still qualify for the tax credit if they were purchased BEFORE June 30, 2009. i looked into the cut-off date too late and my window guy placed the order 3 days after the June 30th. hopefully he can finagle some paperwork so i can still get the $1500.

- get at least 3 quotes before you settle and be sure to factor in installation and all of the "extras" like screens, special glazing, etc..

- look into getting sash packs if your frame and casing is salvagable.

- save your old wood sashes to sell or give to a salvage yard. i'm hanging mine on my fence in the back yard.

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