An Out of The Box Project Will Need Out of The Box Solutions

Windows Will Help You See Those Solutions

The view through a window is much better than through a solid wall. If you’re in a box without windows, it’s hard to see out. Most of the time people are looking for solutions from inside the box. Even the most basic construction project needs a clear view of where things are headed. When it’s something “Undefined” it becomes more difficult.

An update on Hannah’s out of the box, grain bin home project.

As I expected when Hannah went to the bank yesterday, they didn’t just hand her a blank check, imagine that. The meeting went well though and they didn’t tell her no. As always, they gave her some papers to fill out for getting her credit approved. Because the house is going to be built on property that currently belongs to her parents there needs to be a survey done for separating off a parcel. The tricky part will be the appraisal. When doing appraisals, they will compare this project to other similar ones in the area. This is often an issue even for conventional construction projects. Guess what…there aren’t very many ‘out of the box, grain bin houses’ around.

Every problem has a solution, you just have to be willing to look for it.

As Hannah was telling her mom about the meeting with the bank, she said the banker said, “You’ll need some prices from a contractor.” …she handed them the eight-page detailed proposal. Next, they said, “We’ll need drawings.” …she gave them those as well. Most building project customers never get the level of documentation that Hannah had, even after meeting with the bank, let alone before. Another out of the box solution.

Another way windows help, is when they’re delivered. We received the windows and door that were purchased at the Pella contractor garage sale. They were unloaded in her parents’ garage until we are ready for them. We had to do some out of the box thinking to figure out what changes needed to be made to find the out of the box solutions.

Met with the bank and received windows. Two things accomplished this week that move the project forward. We are approaching the top of the mountain and it won’t be long before the momentum picks up. When that happens, we’ll be in for a fast ride down the other side.

Every nail driven, puts another board in the wall.  

Don’t be afraid to look outside of the box for solutions. If you need help with this, let us know in the comments below.

The Cost of Change Can Be More Than Time and Money

It Can Be Reputation and Loyalty, and To Me These Are More Important

Change happens for all kinds of reasons, some needed, some not. Some people love change, it excites them. These people are the ones pushing the envelope and coming up with new ways of doing things. Others on the opposite side never want to change anything. It’s scary to change. What if it doesn’t work? It’s warm and comfortable a lot like being in the bottom of a rut. It’s been said that a rut is just a grave with both ends kicked out.

So, which of these positions should a business take?

I think it depends on the situation, the people or person and the reason(s). As is the case most times, the right answer is somewhere in the middle.

Let me preface this next portion with the fact that I have been a longtime supporter and user of Pella products, for more than 30 years. I have enthusiastically advocated and installed their products throughout that time.

I AM NOW RETHINKING THIS. I was informed yesterday of some product changes that have been implemented at Pella and one of those changes may just be the straw that will break this camel’s back.

Pella has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation. (A part of what gained my admiration and loyalty.) One of these innovations is…was…one of my favorite products. Double or single hung windows with blinds or shades behind a removable pane of glass has been discontinued. This would have been the window I would have recommended above all others, short of some specific design parameters. This is the very window that I planned to put in my home in the next few years. I never imagined that this window would not be available.

I don’t profess to be a Pella historical authority, but I do remember some things that happened in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. This is not about specific times or details, but about a decided trajectory that began and seems to be continuing.

Prior to that point customers would talk about the exceptional quality of Pella windows. The first straw was the question that I began getting about the ProLine Series “builder’s” windows. People wondered why Pella was making a lower quality builder’s window. It seemed to be counter to what Pella stood for. I assured them the quality was as good as ever, there were just less options and fixed sizes in this series.

The next straw came with the introduction of vinyl windows. More questions about what was going on. Why is Pella selling “cheap vinyl windows”? I would tell people that it was just a way to give the public more options. It was a way of helping more people and Pella quality was still available in the wood windows.

Then the next straw came. It was when there began to be problems with the bottom sash of the ProLine casement windows rotting. I continued to defend them. This was a fluke…just some bad sealant on one select style in one series. The straws continued to come, and I continued to defend Pella and my supplier. The service and support were great. We would do what was needed to help them through this freak incident.

Now, full circle back to yesterday’s straw. I can’t say why Pella made this change to no longer offer shades between the glass in hung windows. I assume it was monetary as I presume all these decisions were. I don’t have any of Pella’s internal decision-making criteria, but they are a company that needs and deserves to make a profit.

What Pella needs to remember is that dollars are certificates of appreciation and consider that my appreciation may go somewhere else.

I’m sure that as big a company as Pella is that they won’t even notice when I’m gone. What they may notice is the size of the snowball when more and more contractors and customers do the same.

These types of changes have become too common place over the last 20 – 30 years. Too many times companies have chosen to sell more for less rather than seeking to provide high quality at a high price. There’s nothing wrong with buying inexpensive projects for less. It’s about deciding who you want to be and who you want to serve.

Pella’s decisions are theirs just as my decisions are mine.

Window Shopping…Really I Mean Shopping for Windows – Part 3

Even More Things to Consider When Buying Windows


I know that it seems that I have written a lot about windows in this ‘Window Shopping’ series. I think one of the issues with construction in general and this topic of windows specifically, is the lack of information people have before deciding what to buy. There is no right answer for everyone, but the more you know the more likely it is to find the best one for you.

In the previous two blogs in this series, part 1 and part 2, we discussed materials used and construction options for windows. In this final one we will talk design.

3-st_brigide_church-doorway-montreal_2013-ticklebear4u_comDESIGN – When considering design, it is more about function and appearance. There are a huge variety of options available to choose from. This is one reason to start with a clear why. Design is an area that can make a big difference in the finished project. You need to be careful though because it is easy for the ‘bells and whistles’ to push the price beyond your budget.

            Shapes – There are a lot of shapes available; curved tops, circles, triangle, trapezoid and custom shapes. Depending on the manufacturer, some size limitations and how much you want to spend, shape is open to your imagination.

            Grilles – Grilles tend to have more of a connection to the architectural design and that should be considered if you are thinking about painted-windowsgrilles. It may also be that you hope to change the view when looking through the windows. Grilles are a great way to do this.

            Shades – Mini blinds or cellular shades between the panes of glass aren’t offered by all manufacturers, but serve both a design and pragmatic purpose. They also have a big effect on how the window looks. They allow you to let in only as much sun as you would like, as well as provide privacy.

            Colors – This is another area where, depending on who makes the windows, there are a large number of color choices. These choice options will also depend on material; wood, aluminum, vinyl, etc. With some manufacturers it is possible to get one pre-finished color on the outside and a different one on the inside.

Let me give you an example of how this decision making process works. I live in a one hundred-year-old craftsman style farm house, built by my Great Grandfather. It has always been in our family and both my Grandmother and Mother grew up in this home. To me the history and heritage plays a large part in my decisions. It was built with large double hung, single pane windows. Originally the size allowed for an ample amount of natural light and fresh air. There wasn’t much in the way of electric lighting and air conditioning when it was built. We have plenty of artificial light and central heat and air now so we could go with smaller windows.

When considering windows here are the things that I would keep in mind:

      windows-with-shades      Wood – I like its stability and the option of having a stained wood interior.

            Double Hung – Match the original architecture with windows the same size.

            Grilles – Possibly, might give the house an upgraded feel, while being true to the original style.

            Shades – Definitely mini blinds between the panes of glass. My experience with these are that even though they add to the price they are worth it. They are great at controlling the amount of natural light coming in as well as privacy.

            Colors – A neutral aluminum clad exterior with a pre-finished stained interior. These colors will not be too restrictive when considering future painting and finishes.

There is a lot to consider when it comes to deciding what you want when buying windows. As I told you in the beginning, not all windows are created equal and the same is true for installation.

I hope that this gives you some physical insight and direction when shopping for windows. Don’t forget that there is an emotional consideration as well. You can find out about it in the blog about “How Do You Feel About Windows”.

Window Shopping…Really I Mean Shopping For Windows – Part 2

More Things to Consider When Buying Windows


If you are an information junkie and want all of the info you can get before making a decision about windows, then reading this series of blogs is for you. I think it is vital to learn as much as you can when a decision is as important and expensive as windows are.

My previous blog in this series, Window Shopping…Really I Mean Shopping For Windows – Part 1. I shared about the pros and cons of the different materials used in making windows. I also said the first thing to determine was the why behind window choices and how important this is. Help with determining the why can be found in How Do You Feel About Windows?


The next thing to consider is CONSTRUCTION – There are a lot of differences in how windows operate. You should give some thought to these differences to make sure that the windows match the style of the building. One thing to be aware of when considering the different construction styles is the screen. The screens can or will be only on the portion of the window where the sashes operate. They will be on the inside, if the windows hinge out (casement and awning) and on the outside if the windows slide (double hung, single hung and side sliding). The screen material can be steel, aluminum or fiberglass. These are all things to consider.

            Double Hung – These windows have two sashes and both slide up and down. These windows are probably the most common style due to the longevity and durability. This is in part because they having very few mechanical parts.double-hung-windows

            Single Hung – The same as double hung except that only one sash opens, normally the bottom one.

            Sliding – Side sliding windows work the same as either double or single hung windows except they slide sideways.

Casement – These windows crank open and are hinged from one side. Because of this, they have more mechanical parts. They typically seal better due to the fact that they swing and when the wind blows against them they are pushed tighter against the weather seal.casement-windows

            Awning – Operate similar to the casement windows, but open from the bottom and are hinged on the top. They have the same benefits and concerns of the casements as well.

            Fixed – A fixed window is just that, it doesn’t open. These are commonly used for picture, center bay or areas where large pieces of glass are wanted. Fixed windows will have the most shape flexibly of any.

I hope you find this ‘Window Shopping’ information helpful. The third and final post in this series which is about design will be out in a few weeks so be looking for it.

If you need any additional window information or have other construction project questions, please let me know in the comments.

Window Shopping…Really I Mean Shopping For Windows – Part 1

Things to Consider When Buying Windows


Whether you are shopping for new construction or replacement windows, the first thing you should know is, not all windows are created equal. The same is true for installation. As the saying goes, ‘you get what you pay for’. When picking windows this is as true as any other time. It doesn’t mean that if you spend a lot of money that you will get the best deal. It is however a good idea to do some research and know what you’re getting – for what you’re spending.

The first thing that you need to do is to determine why. Are you building something new or adding a room? If you’re not building then why do you want/need to replace or add windows to your existing structure? If you will give this some thought, it will help you to make the best decision. Once you have answered the why question it will help you going forward. For help answering this question read my blog about how windows make you feel.

Once you have determined why then you can shift your focus to the what and how. There are three main areas of research to be able answer these questions, material, construction and design. In this post I will review the material question. I will address the construction and design elements in two later blogs.

MATERIALS – The biggest difference in windows are the frames. There really isn’t much difference in glass manufacturing. The glass choices are mostly what types of insulating gas or sun blocking coatings you would prefer. Some windows also offer a third pane option. The frame material is the important thing to consider. There are a several options, with wood and vinyl currently being the two most common. There is also aluminum, steel and fiberglass reinforced composites and who knows what may be next.

411530104_6f5d483b36_oWood Benefits – Stability is the biggest benefit to wood framed windows. The wood frames expand and contract less with changing temperatures. This means the seals where the glass and the frame are connected are more likely to last longer.

Strength is another benefit of wood. Wood is not likely to be structurally damaged by hail or flying debris. If hit it may be dented, but it is unusual for that to cause failure of seals or to decrease the integrity of the window.

Wood Concerns – The most common concern of wood is the cost. Wood windows, especially good quality windows, generally cost more than the other materials.

Rot is also a concern of wood. It is less of an issue now than it used to be. Most wood framed windows now have an external aluminum, or some type of cladding that protect them from the weather. If an unclad window is used it will need to be painted and then be regularly repainted for the life of the window. Most wood windows now are being treated to help prevent water damage.

V5456092177_4ea777747b_oinyl Benefits – One good thing about vinyl is that it doesn’t rot or deteriorate from exposure to moisture.

Vinyl windows are a less expensive way to get new windows. There is a wide price range of vinyl windows and this is due to various construction practices; i.e. thickness of the vinyl, welded or molded corners, how the vinyl is extruded and/or frame construction. This is an area where manufacturer research would be good.

Vinyl Concerns – One concern of vinyl window frames is the possibility of damage from hail and mower thrown rocks. I have on several occasions replaced vinyl windows due to frames broken by hail. The fact that the vinyl frames were broke and the glass wasn’t is something to consider when deciding. The longer the vinyl is exposed to sun and weather the more brittle it gets.

Vinyl expands and contracts considerably with changes in temperatures. This is also something that you should factor in to your decision.

Fiberglass Benefits – One of the newer window frame options is fiberglass. It is a product is a mix of the benefits of both wood and vinyl. It is stronger than vinyl and expands and contracts less. On the other hand, it won’t rot like wood.

Fiberglass concerns – The main concern with vinyl is price. It will be more comparable to wood in this area.


As you can see there is a lot to consider when it comes to deciding what you want when you buy windows and we only covered a portion of it here.

I hope that this gives you some insight and direction when shopping for windows, be sure to come back and learn about construction and design in the next few weeks.

How Do You Feel About Windows?

Considerations When Choosing Windows


Windows play a big part of how we feel about buildings. They serve a variety of purposes. Determining what needs and/or wants you are looking to satisfy, will affect your decisions about windows.

Window purposes to consider:

            Letting in light – Without windows it is dark inside. Even with artificial electric light, the absence of natural light can be dark and 9477331897_d9266bbf18_odepressing. Even when it’s cloudy outside the natural light will brighten and energizes us. We aren’t intended to be cave dwellers. We need natural light both physically and emotionally.

            Letting in fresh air – Just like the light we need fresh air. In an effort to be more efficient with resources we have continued to make buildings more air tight. It is important to control this as much as we can. However, the tighter we make buildings the more stagnant the air inside becomes. If we can open some windows and let the air circulate when the weather allows…it’s like a ‘breath of fresh air’.

            Keeping out bad weather – Not only are windows used to let things in (light and fresh air) they should also keep things out. This includes hot, cold, rain and pests. To achieve this, they need to be able to be opened and closed easily, have good seals, good glass and functional screens.

            Architectural beauty – Windows can add a lot to the appearance of a building. Both from the inside and from the outside. There is a large variety of sizes, shapes, materials and designs to choose from. Location and configuration also has an impact on how the building looks.27769616255_ab582ab08e_o

            Escape – Although this may not be one of the first reasons considered in choosing windows it is a critical one. Imagine getting trapped in a building with only walls, one door and no other way out. Having windows that allow for egress is a really good plan.

When I was a kid I used to have a reoccurring dream. In this dream there was a concrete block room, standing isolated in the country. It had no top, no doors and no windows. There was a ladder fastened to one of the walls that went up and over and down the other side. I would get inside this room and then a giant mallard duck would show up and circle around overhead (this might be a conversation I should have with a doctor while lying on a couch) …I digress. When I would try to get out the duck would dive down close to the top of the walls. I still remember how it felt, the feeling of being trapped in this room with no way out. I sure wish that there had been a nice Pella window in one of those walls, one with shades between the panes of glass. This would have made me feel better.

Our feelings will be included when making a decision, whether we realize it or not. This is not to say that feelings are the only thing, just a part of the process. Feelings are powerful and can have a lasting effect on us.

Don’t be afraid of your feelings, include them when considering your decisions.