One of Kevin's favorite books is the "children's" book "Harold and the Purple Crayon". Harold was able to draw his world, including his house, bed and windows. If a monster started to chase him - all he had to do was draw his way out of it. If he wanted some pie, a few marks with the crayon and voila, he was hungry no more. Sometimes being an architect is just like that- you just draw the picture and it will eventually become real. But most of the time it takes a whole lot of drawing, erasing, drawing and erasing.
One of the things we've been drawing and erasing are the windows for our new house. In our perspective, windows are a crucial element that we won’t cut corners on. They must meet both our esthetic and performance goals. They must be energy star rated. We’ve looked at Marvin Integrity, Accurate Dorwin and Fibertec and InLine Windows. These are all pultruded fiberglass windows, which we are selecting for their strength, durability and great performance from an environmental and energy point of view.
The Marvin windows were in the original bid, but we realized that they do not have the awning and casement windows we need. We are going with a white frame to match the existing windows and to create a modern, clean interior look. If we went with wood clad, they do have the types of windows in that line, but we don’t want wood - wood warps our current wood clad windows don't perform as well as we'd like them to.
The Accurate Dorwin windows are out of Canada they are a great window- but the lead times are crazy right now. It would be 12-14 weeks out and we just can’t afford that kind of time.
Inline and Fibertec windows are also out of Canada and have great performance. It will come down to a question of pricing and schedule.
http://www.fibertec.com/ (Don’t be scared off by the castle-like monster home on their web home page!) We’ve gone back and forth with them to establish the size and functioning of the windows and have learned a few lessons:
1. Customize glazing and Low E coatings depending on the orientation of the window: We are likely going to go with triple glazed units with 2 low e coatings and argon filled cavities. On the north facing units (very few of those) we may use 3 low e coatings on different surfaces of the glass. The low e coatings will be slightly different, depending on the direction they face. The goal is to optimize the window's performance depending on the orientation and what we hope to accomplish - passive solar gain in the winter from the south is critical - so we're fine tuning the glazing to make sure that happens. The cost increase appears to be minimal to move from double glased to triple glazed units and as we will own this house for a long time, we want the extra performance - even if the payback in energy savings is 10 years out. Our triple glazed units will feature u values in the .15 to .20 range which gives us and Rvalue of R6 in most cases.
We shouldn't feel a draft off these windows at all - even on the coldest Minnesota winter days.
2. Think carefully where you need operable windows. We were originally showing nearly all windows being operable. For example on a typical casement window of 48” wide x 36” high, we were showing 2 operable sides. By having only 1 operable side, it saves over $500 per window.
2. Consolidate. Less is more (and it will cost you less). We had 4 small operable windows. Each of them was over $800 each. We combined them into 2 larger windows and will save significantly. We don’t want all the design decisions to be driven by cost, but “simple” usually means less cost and “simple” is often the better design decision.
3. The weak dollar sucks. The price for products from outside the US have increased significantly due to the weak dollar.
Look for some revised elevations soon!