It’s not often that I hire professionals to do a house-related job for me. I love DIYing, and I love learning new things. I like to push myself a little bit further with each project and expand my skill set. But I figured that installing windows was something best left to the pros. After all, you really have to know what you’re doing in order to prevent water leakage (and in turn, prevent the possibility of rotting wood in the future) and to ensure and air tight and energy efficient install. Right? Right.
So after doing quite a bit of research on windows (for about six months now), I finally decided to go with a national franchise company that has a location here in Waco. I’ve spoken with them several times on the phone, and was always very impressed with their knowledge and customer service. Their products sounded great, and come with a lifetime warranty. Plus, I constantly see their signs in yards around town. So I set up an appointment. I expected everything to go smoothly, and to have an estimate in hand by the end of that day. Heck, I expected that by now, my new dining room windows would be ordered and paid for, and I’d be expecting their arrival and installation in four weeks or so.
Why can’t anything ever be as easy as I expect it to be?!
Two guys came out to do the measurements and give me an estimate. One was being trained, but he used to be an installer and is now working in sales, so I was actually glad to have him there since he has actual hands-on experience with installing windows.
Well, the first thing they told me was that the configuration on the front window would have to stay the same because the two inside vertical pieces (the pieces separating the side casement windows from the center picture window) are probably structural, and not just decorative.
Bummer. I was really hoping to have three double-hung windows of equal width in the front. And call me crazy, but this doesn’t look structural to me.
Something structural (i.e., actually holding up the weight of the front wall of the house) would go all the way from floor to ceiling, right? And clearly that doesn’t. But I also know nothing about windows. I could now kick myself for not taking better notice (and not taking pictures) when we had all of the drywall and shiplap removed from the area above this window. That would tell us exactly what’s going on up there, and I’d know without a doubt what’s structural or not. But of course, I didn’t even think about it.
But oh well. If they say it’s structural, then it must be. They’re the window experts, right? If there’s no way around it, then I can live with new windows in the current configuration, although I’d probably opt for double hung windows on the sides rather than casement windows, and a solid pane-free picture window in the middle. Probably. Maybe. Okay, I’m not sure.
So I was already a little disappointed. Then they moved to the side windows and took some measurements and made notes. They got to the window on the right, and the one guy told the other to make a note that they would need to replace the window sill. That window is in sad shape because it has had a window unit air conditioner in it for years (decades?) and has probably seen more than a few leaks over the years. The window sill is completely rotted.
But there’s no way I want JUST one window sill replaced. Somewhere along the line, the window on the left was replaced with an aluminum window, and whoever installed it used regular 1 x whatever wood to trim out the areas around the window, and to build a new window sill.
It doesn’t match the other (original) windows at all. Those windows have much thinner wood casing the window and on the window sill.
I had just assumed that when you get new windows, all of that is replaced and all of the windows look exactly the same and actually match each other when all is said and done. But when I told them that I wanted all of that replaced on all of the windows, they both looked at me as if I had just requested that they tear down my house and rebuild from scratch. They made a big deal about how that’s not how it’s done, and they didn’t know if they could do that, or if they could find someone who would be willing to do that, etc.
Now granted, I’ve never replaced windows. I’ve never installed a window in a new build before. Sure, I’ve watched a few YouTube videos, but I have no hands-on experience of my own. But what I do know is that when you take the window out, you’re left with an opening that’s cased with wood. Right? So why is it a big deal to replace that wood?
Ugh! Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I do know that this is one of the main reasons I hate working with contractors. They very often make things seem impossible when the reality is that they just don’t want to bother.
So anyway, when they left that day, they weren’t able to give me an estimate because they said they needed to find someone who could do this obviously amazingly difficult and unusual thing that I was asking them to do. They gave me a ballpark estimate for the windows and a regular install (around $2500 for the dining room windows), but of course, the above-and-beyond work that I had requested would be in addition to that cost.
So Monday morning I got an email from them, and was told that they had found someone who could do the work, and they were waiting to hear back from him about how much it would cost, and if he would even be willing to do the work…because he lives in Richardson! As in, he lives in Richardson, Texas! As in, he lives ONE HUNDRED AND TEN MILES NORTH of Waco! North of Dallas! So in the entire greater Waco area with a population of 250,000, and with a contractor on every corner, this company that specializes in selling and installing custom windows can’t find anyone who can take off the old wood from my windows and replace it with new wood, and therefore must bring in someone who lives and works almost two hours away from Waco.
Are you freaking kidding me?!
This, in a nutshell, is why I DIY. I hate dealing with contractors. I hate them telling me that things are impossible, and making a big deal out of things that shouldn’t be a big deal. I’d rather just do it myself and avoid the frustration of dealing with them. And at least if I do it myself, I know that if it’s done wrong, the only person I have to blame is myself, and I can learn from it and redo it if needed.
So maybe it’s time for me to learn how to install windows.
EDIT: I won’t actually be installing my own windows, although I think I could if I really wanted to, and with an extra pair of hands to help me. I’ll be calling other companies, and getting more quotes. I’m just feeling a bit frustrated today. I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end. But I can’t, for the life of me, understand how a company that specializes in making and installing custom windows doesn’t have someone (or a few someones) locally who can tackle any and every framing situation they come across. That makes no sense at all to me.