Sunroom Renovation Plans

In my last post, I detailed my window decisions. Now it’s time to get into the rest of our plans and the budget [gulp].

Hiring a contractor

In August, I posted on Instagram about needing a contractor who is skilled with window installation. A college friend messaged me to say “My folks got their windows done and were happy with the contractor, and my dad is truly a fastidious basketcase.” SOLD. She referred me to CKM/Mizener Construction, whose website says “The joy of a cheap price passes quickly. The sorrow of poor quality lingers on and on.” DOUBLE SOLD.

I’ve had several in-depth conversations with Chris (the lead contractor) and Paul (the superintendent) over the past months and I am thoroughly smitten. I’ve never immediately clicked with a contractor like I have with them: we see eye to eye, they understand my goals and my concerns, and we respect each other and this old house. Chris has already spent many hours onsite and gone through countless rounds with our window supplier to get all the details nailed down. Here’s a drawing Chris made on my wall to illustrate some window sill and moulding choices.

wall-drawing.jpg

Header beam – womp, womp

Installing a continuous run of windows requires major structural integrity. It’s a 20′ opening.

sunroom-window-drawing.png

In order to know what we were getting into in the sunroom – and to get accurate labor quotes – I demoed some sections of the sunroom paneling ahead of Chris coming out for final measurements.

sunroom-exploration.jpg

I assumed our existing header “beam” was solid, but we learned that is not the case: it’s a hollow trough formed by three boards.

fake-header.jpg

We have to install a Parallam beam across the sunroom’s west wall. That added significant labor to our plans. I’m grateful we found out before starting work and I’m glad to have hired a contractor with the skills to tackle this.

All the things

Bringing my sunroom plans to life is a major undertaking: we are essentially rebuilding the entire room. In addition to installing the new windows, we will:

  • Thoroughly demo the room – the ceiling, paneling, framing, etc. is all coming out
  • Install the Parallam header
  • Spray insulation onto the ceiling and brick walls
  • Install two new outlets
  • Install new drywall – though there won’t be much of it, because the room will be predominantly windows!
  • Shim the floor and install new subfloor so it’s level – there is currently a significant slope to shed rainwater because, again, it used to be an exterior porch
  • Install new oak floors and stain them to match the hardwood in the living room
  • Install trim around the new windows
  • Install a new wood beadboard ceiling

The sunroom ceiling is currently dilapidated insulation tile that is glued over the original beadboard ceiling. It was rotting in one corner and I pulled away the tile to find an old wasp nest!

wasp-home.jpg

Timeline

The windows will take 3-4 weeks to manufacture and ship. The job will take 2-3 weeks all totaled. Fingers crossed, we’ll be finished by the end of April.

Cost – gird your loins

The 16 Marvin windows (3 in the bedroom, 3 in the dining room, and 10 in the sunroom) cost ~$17k. Labor and materials are estimated to run ~$26k. I’ll do a full budget breakdown once everything is finished, but I wanted to go ahead and get the $43k number out there now so we can all absorb the shock and recover from it. I’ve been saving for over two years for this, and I am willingly paying more for a perfectionist. Cutting open the front of our house is not a time to skimp.

Oh, and I’m also getting a new roof installed on the house and garage. That will cost an additional ~$10k. We’re currently figuring out the timeline re: having it done before or after the window installation.

Oh, and I’m also getting our brick tuckpointing repaired in several areas around the house where it’s failing. That will cost an additional ~$1,400. Hauslermo is getting the works in 2020!

DIY and cost-cutting

To save money where I can, I will be doing some DIY: demo prep, painting the new sunroom walls and ceiling, installing the sunroom baseboard and crown moulding, and installing the trim around the dining room and master bedroom windows. (Given the size of the sunroom window expanse, I’m having the crew do that trim work, but I can handle the other rooms.)

I also decided not to install new windows in the stairwell and guest bedroom during this renovation phase. It’s my hope we can order and install those windows by the end of the year, but I didn’t want to commit all of my project funds from the outset. The side benefit of this is that our entire house won’t turn into our construction zone.

tree.jpg

So, that’s where we stand currently: a partially disassembled sunroom, awaiting windows, and equal parts excited and barfing about what we’re undertaking. I’ll keep you posted here and on Instagram!

Bungalow Window Decision Making

New windows for Hauslermo are officially a go! I’ve signed a contract with a general contractor I’m super excited about, finalized my sunroom renovation plans, and pulled the trigger on the window order. I have a lot to say on these topics, so I’m going to break it up into two posts. Let’s start by talking at length, ad nauseam, about windows.

Why I’m replacing our windows

Our existing windows are cheap white vinyl, installed sometime in the 1990s. Aesthetically, they’re a poor match for a 1913 bungalow. I want wood on the interior; metal on the exterior. Functionally, they’re starting to fail – for example, the dining room crank-out casement windows fall of their track frequently, and we have to go outside to push them shut.

I’ve known ever since when we bought the house that I would want to remove the walls of our sunroom (originally an exterior porch) and install new windows across the front. That’s what this bungalow wants, and that’s what this bungalow is going to get. As a reminder, here’s what it looks like now:

Bungalow Window Before 1

And here’s approximately what it will look like after – although they won’t be white!

Bungalow Window Mockup 6 Windows.jpg

It will be a major improvement for our house’s appearance, both inside and out, and I can’t wait to get more daylight into our living room.

Window manufacturer selection

The three big options for our region are Marvin, Pella, and Andersen. I got quotes for Marvin’s Signature Ultimate series (via Next Door & Window as well as direct from Midwest Window & Door), Pella’s Architect series (via a Pella supplier), and Andersen’s 400 series (via Home Depot).

I wish I could share helpful numbers with you, but it’s impossible to compare apples to apples on the quotes because different companies provide different types of quotes: Home Depot and Next Door bundle all of the windows and the installation costs into one, whereas if you buy direct from a supplier you see the individual window cost and labor is priced out separately. Furthermore, Home Depot only does simple replacement work – they couldn’t quote for the sunroom portion because it requires enlarging the existing window opening.

Dining-room-mockup.jpg

If we look only at the dining room – where I’m doing three double-hung windows as mocked up above – I can share some rough numbers to give you an idea of how much the options cost:

  • Anderson 400 including installation = ~$5k
  • Pella Architect excluding installation = ~$3k
  • Marvin Signature Ultimate excluding installation = ~$2,200

Anderson 400 is a cheaper product, but Home Depot’s installation costs are steep. Pella Architect and Marvin Signature Ultimate are both high-end products and are comparable in cost, but the latter is a better value, in my opinion. I decided to go with Marvin Signature Ultimate because they are widely regarded to be the highest quality. Here’s what sold me: Pella uses roll form aluminum cladding, which means it’s a thin metal wrapped around wood, whereas Marvin used extruded aluminum. It’s like a soda can versus a quarter: Marvin’s metal is structural. Unless something unexpected happens, this is our forever house, and I want forever windows.

Once I landed on Marvin, it was time to make 100 other decisions.

Exterior color – Clay vs. Gunmetal

Marvin offers 19 exterior color options. Clay and Gunmetal were my immediate lead contenders.

marvin ultimite window brochure-6.jpg

I was leaning toward Clay because it’s a subtle earthy color that seemed perfect for a bungalow. But then I chatted with an architect acquaintance who has impeccable taste and makes window decisions regularly for projects. He encouraged me to consider Gunmetal because it will provide more contrast with our brick. Our face brick (the brick on the front sides of the house) is super red. The Clay color couldn’t hold its own against it. Furthermore our common brick (the brick on the back half of the house) is a light tan, and the Clay color disappears against it – they’re far too similar in shade. Gunmetal is a classic dark gray that is strong enough to complement both brick types.

Clay vs Gunmetal.jpg

Here’s a photo of a bungalow in a nearby neighborhood that I love and keep coming back to for inspiration.

Bungalow-inspiration.jpg

And here’s a lovely bungalow that shows what our window style will look like, generally.

Bungalow-inspiration2.jpg

Other details

The interior wood will be factory-primed and I’ll have them painted white onsite. I selected matte black hardware. I’m doing simulated divided lite with an in-glass spacer bar – I don’t love the stainless steel they show on the Marvin website and was pleased to learn they offer a black option for a small upcharge.

Screen Shot 2020-03-02 at 8.47.32 AM.png

Excruciatingly exact measurements are required because these windows will be custom-made to fit an existing masonry opening – there’s no wiggle room with brick. There are also lots of other small manufacturing decisions that could make or break the project – brick moulding, mullions, jambs, sills, etc. The shop drawings look like an aeronautics design.

shop-drawings-2.jpg

I wouldn’t know how to make heads or tails of these fine details, so I’m grateful to have found a contractor I trust to get this right. I’ll cover that plus budget and sunroom plans in my next post!