Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations
Window Replacement: Getting it Right
From the Volume 12, Spring 2022 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
As a condo owner, replacing windows can be a significant investment in your building. Window replacement can be expensive and disruptive, but can improve occupant comfort, building aesthetics, and maintain the value of your property. To ensure a successful project and avoid common pitfalls, the Board of Directors should answer the following questions when considering a window replacement project:
1. When Should I Replace My Windows?
There are a number of reasons to replace windows including: leaks, occupant comfort, energy use, road noise, and fogged glass, to name a few. The timing of replacement may depend on the reserve fund study and how widespread the issues have become. An owner survey can provide a good representation of how many owners are currently having issues.
It is important to understand the causes of your window issues to ensure new windows will actually address noted problems. Is your leak really a window leak? Is it condensation or a leak through the adjacent wall? Accurately diagnosing your window issues early on can reduce the potential of re-work and help you develop an accurate plan.
2. What Types of Windows Should We Choose?
Windows are available in a variety of configurations with fixed units, sliders, casement, awning, tilt and turn, etc. The operable window type will impact how easy they are to open, durability, energy efficiency, and more.
Common window frame materials include aluminum, fiberglass, vinyl, and wood. Aluminum window frames are more common for high-rise buildings due to fire resistance and strength requirements.
Vinyl window frames are most commonly used for low-rise residential buildings and smaller window sizes. Vinyl is a very energy efficient material, but lacks the strength and fire resistance required for high-rise buildings.
Fiberglass and wood window frames are less common in condominium buildings due to their cost, but may be an option if energy efficiency or aesthetics are of primary concern.
Condensation and interior comfort problems are common in buildings with older windows and poor ventilation. Improvements in window designs and materials can significantly reduce condensation, drafts and energy loss. As with all products, different window designs and materials may be better at addressing these issues, so make sure to ask your engineer for options.
3. How Can We Reduce Construction Issues?
As with any capital repair project, proper planning can help reduce the potential of common construction issues. Make sure you have the following measures in place before undertaking window replacement:
1-Get Real Numbers
It is common for condo boards to rely solely on reserve fund studies for financial planning of window replacement projects. While reserve funds can be beneficial for long term planning, many window budgets are no longer accurate due to Covid-19 related cost and supply disruptions. A comprehensive window assessment can give you sufficient detail and accurate estimated costs to effectively plan for a large project.
Assembling the right team of engineering professionals and contractors can reduce delays, cost overruns, and reduce headaches. Window replacement is a complex process. Obtain pricing from qualified contractors and ensure your engineer includes regular meetings and site visits to keep you informed.
3-Time your Quotations Right
There are good times and costly times to tender a window replacement project. Obtaining pricing in the late fall or early winter will typically yield the best pricing, as contractors are planning their workload for the upcoming summer construction season. Missing this optimal timing can increase window replacement costs by 25% or more.
Ensure your project team considers interior preparation and security. Furniture must be moved away from the windows. Window blinds should be removed and then reinstated to reduce the potential for damage.
Window replacement can be disruptive for anyone in the unit during the work, but each window is typically removed and replaced before the end of the work day and the unit is handed back watertight. Finish painting or drywall repairs may require return visits.
Many buildings constructed in the 1970’s and 1980’s may contain hazardous materials such as asbestos in drywall or ceiling finishes. Make sure your engineer or contractor retains the services of an environmental consultant to perform testing of these components prior to undertaking work.
In summary, it is important to properly plan for window replacement to ensure the project meets your needs and budgetary constraints. Assembling the right team and answering these questions early will help start your window replacement project in the right direction.
Jordan Swail, P.Eng. – Project Engineer
Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd.
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