They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. When building an addition, the right size, style and number of windows are among the most important decisions you’ll make. If you are renovating, getting more light in the house or “opening up” a room was probably a key motivation. From a design and cost perspective, you must be educated to ensure this most visible of home elements works for you in every way.
Windows are a key cost item during the design phase of a new addition or renovation. There is the price for the actual windows, but your budget must also cover creating the opening for each, installation, trim, and painting.
In most home renovations you match the new windows to the existing ones so there is harmony in terms of sizing, spacing and style. An important consideration is that you have to look at your windows from the inside out and the outside in. Which is more important to you – the exterior or interior look? For example, sometimes window placement makes sense for the floor plan on the inside but then looks out of place on the exterior or vice versa. This is where a strong design and build partner comes in. You must think through every aspect of a window’s purpose and place in your daily life.
Your builder will know all of the required codes of course, and windows are no different. But a little information to consider as you imagine your design.
Bedrooms always need egress (exit point) windows in the case of an emergency so someone can get in or out of the window. A double hung window will need to be larger than a casement since the double hung when open is only half the window size. A casement can be smaller to hit egress since when open the entire window size is the opening.
There are a range of materials and prices out there and a 2016 Consumer Reports window market test noted that materials don’t guarantee performance and neither does price. Frames come in wood, composite, all-vinyl, all-fiberglass and all-aluminum windows.
There many types of windows, but these are the most common.
Double Hung & Single Hung: Both sash in the window frame are operable, meaning they move up and down. The sashes on a double hung window also tilt in for cleaning. Single Hung: Have only a lower operating sash for ventilation.
Casement windows: A window hinged on the side, the sash opens horizontally opposite the hinge. This type of window allows for full ventilation from top to bottom of the window opening and the extended sash can catch the breeze and direct it into the house for better air flow.
Bay and Bow: Combining three or more windows together so that they angle out beyond the house wall. They can be casement, double-hung or picture units depending on the need. By using more windows, bay and bow windows allow more light in and also give you extra space inside your room.
Gliding Windows: Sash operate in a horizontal fashion to allow for full top to bottom ventilation. Because the sash do not open outward they are an excellent choice for rooms that face walkways, porches or decks.
Picture Window: These windows are stationary and do not open. This makes them more energy efficient and allows for larger sizes than a window that vents. Often used in combinations to maximize the view.
Experienced builders will have recommendations when it comes to manufacturers (we often suggest Pella.) The harder part is where you want them. If you love the look of your neighbor’s windows, take some photos. Also, walk through your existing house. Always wished you had a bay window? A window over the sink to look out into the yard? Windows matter and are a worthwhile investment to get the amount you want and the style you love. Cheaper windows will last about a decade and higher quality windows up to 25 years.
While there’s lots to think about, windows make your home inviting, bright and happy. And, I’ve never met a person yet who thought they bought too many.