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Repalacement window recommendations / window film

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Joined: Oct 13 2003

My husband and I are remodeling our San Francisco Eichler and we need to replace some of the windows. Some are rusted, some leak air (badly), and some won't shut at all. We want to keep the original look in all windows except two tall louver style windows (florida windows?) which are ridiculously innefficient for our climate. We plan to replace these with casement windows.

For all the replacements we are thinking double pane glass (filled with argon gas) and aluminum powder-coated frame to match the original wood trim. Can anyone recommend a good window manufacturer and a good installer? If anyone has any advice regarding window replacement it would be appreciated! If so, please e-mail directly at stacey@impureacts.com :)

As for the infamous Eichler single pane glass that is set into wood trim (non-opening) is there any company out there that makes the acrylic plastic inserts to make these more energy efficient? (I understand Noise Solutions is no longer an option.) Has anyone replaces these with non-opening double pane windows for energy efficiency? We have quite a few that fall under the 40 sqr foot max that could be replaced.

We also plan to put UV film on all sliding glass doors and all the HUGE Eichler single (non-tempered) panes of glass. Both to help with fading and to make them a tad bit safer. :-/ Does anyone have a company to recommend for window film? If so, please e-mail directly.

thanks for any advice!

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Hopefully the inexplicably articulate contractor/remodeling guy "renman" will weigh in this. In his absence, my DIY thoughts:

>For all the replacements we are thinking double pane glass (filled with
>argon gas) and aluminum powder-coated frame to match the original
> wood trim.

Agreed about replacing the louvered windows, but don't get too concerned about the technology (argon gas, triple paned, etc.) nor even the efficiency of your windows. After all, you live near SoMa, not NoDak. Compare window "A" to window "B" based on your aesthetic choices, and the "U Factor" that should be printed on the label. 100s of window makers have their windows rated by the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council). Don't buy a window without it. Also, try to make sure that the Visible Tranmittance (also on the label) of two windows installed on the same wall are matched.

> Can anyone recommend a good window manufacturer and a good
> installer?

Take some measurements and go to some stores. Try the windows. check out how they open, look at the profile, figure out if you want "new construction" or retrofit windows. In the South Bay, Milgard seems to control much of the market, not sure about the city. You know enough about what you want to whittle down the choices fairly quickly.

> Has anyone replaces these with
> non-opening double pane windows for energy efficiency? We have quite
> a few that fall under the 40 sqr foot max that could be replaced.

40 sq. feet is a limit for a framed window. By contrast, the big panes you want to insulate are "glass units". All of my glass units are double paned, and the biggest one is about 60 square feet. Took four guys to install it. They weren't cheap to replace, but they insulate really well and their proximity to the living spaces of the house made us decide to go for it.

> We also plan to put UV film on all sliding glass doors and all the HUGE\
> Eichler single (non-tempered) panes of glass.

SunCheck has a good reputation (or is it SunChek? SunCzech?) , but I've never used it. These films aren't as cheap as you might guess. Be sure to check on the Emissivity and Visible Tranmittance of the film, and consider the match to any nearby windows. Check the installer's references, contracting license, and see the work they've done if possible. Look for, and ask about installation problems or anything that could cause bubbles in the film.

This homeowner was obviously displeased with bubbles and decided to sound off about it: http://tinyurl.com/37cu4

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Joined: Oct 10 2003

regarding window film,

we had Sunchek (hmm, i didnt call SunCzechs) install safety films and some shaded films in December last year. Dave, the main guy there, is a good guy to talk to.

Boberonicus is right that its not cheap, but especially in light of Noise Solution's situation, its a pretty reasonable alternative to replacement. For reference, we happened to replace one of our glass sliding door panes around the same time, and it was about as much to replace the old glass with tempered as it was to coat it with film. I'm sure that for the larger pieces of glass, the film is probably much much cheaper.

There's a volume discount as well, and it also makes sense to have all of the windows facing any particular direction done at the same time to make sure all of the films match -you dont want to notice the film color when you're looking out a wall of glass.

One thing to note is that if you have alot of flurorecent lights, their reflections off the film will look strange at night, kind of oily. Dave tells me that this is just the way it is with fluorecents and I believe him. I've had no issues with other lights, sunlight, etc.

Finally, as part of the installation of the films, they have to clean the window for you. How cool is that, free window cleaning!

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Joined: Aug 28 2003

We had asked for a quote from Sun Check and it came in at almost $2,000.00 for the floor to ceiling windows in a 1,400 square foot house. They were very professional and answered all of our questions--leaving some samples of different types of film with us. The film and installation is expensive but I am sure we could have scraped together the money somehow.
The real reason we decided against it was that the samples they gave us were all very grey looking on the windows--unless the sun was shining very brightly--and we thought this film would ruin the look of the original windows. So being conservative, we decided against it. Others have told us visibility is not a problem with this film.
Most contractors will give you a list of satisfied clients and you could look
at their work "in situ" before taking the plunge.

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Joined: Mar 22 2003

Hi Stacey:

I cannot comment on the film, as we have never used it, but here is some other information.

We replaced all of our sliders and windows, with the exception of the two huge walls of glass in the LR and MBR vinyl-frame, double-pane Millgards with LowE glass. Given the SE exposure of the MBR side of the house, they made a huge difference, insulation wise. The frames are quite a bit wider and more noticable than the original low profile Al sliders. On the windows, the asthetic difference is not so dramatic.

We looked at the argon-filled options available (and heard a lot of Hard -Sell pitches for them - kinda like shopping for a used car, if you get my drift), and decided after doing more research, not to do this. Some say that you get very little long term benefit, since the gas eventually leaks out.

But, more important than what brand you buy, is who you have install them. In the first go-around (3 sets of 8-foot high sliders and 3 sets of sidelights) we used a local window company that had a very nice showroom and an OK reputation, but no Eichler-specific experience. It was a nightmare and without dragging everyone through the details, suffice it to say that the installers were incompetent, hated our house (they had never seen one before), could't wait to get out of here, and left with all the doors out of square. The final resolution came when Milgard came out and completed the job-but it was tough getting them to do so. Their story was "we don't install, we just manufacture." Yeh, right. I said "let me get this straight. You sign contracts with 'authorized' dealer/installers and you warranty the doors ONLY if installed correctly. Will you put in writing, here and now, that mine HAVE been installed correctly and thus are full warrantied?" That got their attention.

We later decided to replace all the BR windows with Milgards. This time we used someone with Eichler experience (Ron Key Construction). They did a wonderful job and took great care to build new framing to match the look of the origianal, as close as possible. They even painted the trim for us -- something few contractors will do these days.

I would just like to sum up by saying that the importance of finding someone with Eichler specific experience and even orientation cannot be overstated. It is that imporant and can make all the difference in the world. I have heard good things about Palo Alto Glass (a supporter of this site) from several neighbors who have used them. They are one of the only companies we have ever found that will replace those huge walls of glass with solid panes (as opposted to having to break them up) and will warranty them. It takes a lot of special equipment to do b/c they are so heavy, thus this is a rarety today. They do a lot of commercial jobs, which is one reason why they have the resources to tackle something like this. We are thinking of engaging them to replace the two remaining large pieces of glass in our house.

Cathye

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

cathye wrote:

Palo Alto Glass [edited]. They are one of the only companies we have ever found that will replace those huge walls of glass with solid panes (as opposted to having to break them up) and will warranty them.

After some investigation, I got quotes from four firms in the Santa Clara valley willing to replace the glass units without using framed windows or changing the sight lines. You just need to call around. I chose one that didn't advertise on this site, and they worked out fine. Palo Alto Glass prices were fine, but they couldn't do all of the work I needed.

I would list the names of these alternate firms, but the last time I did that my post was edited to exclude any mention of non-advertisers. Luckily, your handy yellow pages is not controlled by the Eichler Network.

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Joined: Apr 2 2003

Well, as we are guests of this site, I can't get too uptight about them setting some rules (after all, the service groups do pay for the right to advertise--which keeps it free for the rest of us--and are vetted to help protect the site and the Eichler customers). It has always been acceptable for people to exchange information about recommended (or not recommended) companies directly.

Boberinicus, I value your recommendations and would really appreciate knowing the firm you chose. There have been some issues with the company I typically recommend and I'd like to have some additional ones for future reference.

You can email me direct: eichfan@rawbw.com

Cheers.
Jake

eichfan at rawbw dot com

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Joined: Mar 20 2003

Hey Jake,

I'll happily email you the names of the places I contacted. I may even be able to dig up the actual quotes; I'll check my files.

Jake wrote:
Well, as we are guests of this site, I can't get too uptight about them setting some rules

Rules about decorum are cool, and appreciated. But rules that eliminate my recommendation of a firm that doesn't pay money to the site are draconian. Anyway, the rules are not fully codified, and are inconsistent. You can't mention a window company, but you can mention Home Depot because it's impractical to disallow it. But Home Depot sells windows, and I'll wager that Palo Alto Glass is more worried about Home Depot than (insert name of mom and pop glass company here).

An uncensored forum would actually benefit the site, and the sponsors. That's because giving forum users the right to share direct, complete experiences without fear of reprisal would only increase our trust in one another's comments. And an increase in trust brings more participants - it's why people flock to thathomesite, or The John Bridge Tile Forum.

Jake wrote:
(after all, the service groups do pay for the right to advertise--which keeps it free for the rest of us

Given the traffic and the software used, the cost of running the forum portion of this site are trivial; I'd wager they're under 1% of what the sponsors of this site pay. So let's not be too grateful to the largess of the Eichler Network. If they start charging, I'll setup my own PHP based Eichler web forum. We'll call it openeichler, or somesuch.

Jake wrote:
and are vetted to help protect the site and the Eichler customers).

I trust the CSLB. I trust referrals. I trust contracts. Supposing that the people who run the site are able to vet your contractor could endanger the roof above your head.

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