New windows and an unexpected drama: First Time Renovator

new windows

We had at least eight weeks to wait for the decision on our planning permission. Time to settle into the house and mull over the decor. Then make some decisions on the new windows, maybe buy some samples and start some Pinterest boards. Or so we thought! But no one could have expected what came next.

Let me start at the beginning; we began by looking at window companies for new windows. This was because we knew the building officer wanted us to replace our current double-glazed aluminium frames. The enforcement was only for the two front windows (facing onto the road and in the oldest part of the house). However, I didn’t want a mismatch in the rest of the house, so we looked at our options. I spoke to a local joiner who could handmake the two wooden front windows, but it was a four-month wait for these. I also invited a couple of companies round to give us a quote for new windows, one local and one national.

new windows
We were glad to get rid of the hideous dark brown windows, but we hadn’t originally factored in this cost.

The window salesman from the national company lived up to every cliché. During a site visit the price of the new windows dropped by half of the original price. This was after he asked to use our landline (the village is in a signal blackout zone) to call his boss and get the price down! I was sceptical to say the least and it put me off immediately. The local company was the opposite and left us with our quote to think about it.

But drama would occur before any decisions on new windows

The front two rooms: the master bedroom and front room, which was a dining room when we moved in, would not be affected by any of the building work. So we planned to decorate these two and install my dream log burner. However, one morning we woke up in a cloud of dust and quickly realised that our bedroom ceiling was collapsing! The rafters behind the dormer window had rotted with time (not surprising after 170 years really!) This wasn’t flagged up on our structural report because the previous owners had boarded the section that would have been visible in the loft.

damage to the ceiling
There was substantial damage to the ceiling. It had to be held up by a wooden beam so it didn’t collapse any further.

It was cold in the room, not to mention dangerous. So this had to take priority over new windows as the roof had actually started to fall in. As a temporary measure, we covered the hole with some boards and slept downstairs in the front room.

Before the roof drama we had started our search for a builder. We had three quotes to go through. We’d received recommendations for two local builders (the single-man-band-type). Then a larger company who would project manage the build and provide all the tradesmen we would need, electricians, plumbers, etc. But this option had a premium. Our preferred builder was a local tradesman from the village who had experience with older houses. This was important to us as we needed the materials to match the existing house.

We finally made a decision on which builder to use

After some deliberation, we decided to use our preferred builder for the bedroom roof as a ‘test run’ before the bigger build. That way we could get to know him and see what his work was like before accepting his quote.

At this time we had to make lots of decisions, which seemed separate but actually coincided with each other. While the builder was fixing the roof he would have to rebuild the dormer. So we needed to make a choice on the new windows sooner rather than later. The builder was able to source wooden windows through a trade manufacturer and this would save us money. It seemed like a no-brainer. He ordered two new windows so the downstairs could be done at the same time. Then we could revisit the quotes for the rest of the house later in the year during the main build.

new windows
We needed to secure the entire ceiling in the master bedroom and build a new frame to ensure it wouldn’t collapse again.

We needed to make some serious decisions

Although unfinished, we can already see the difference the new windows will make to the exterior of the cottage.

They took a few weeks to repair the bedroom roof. The builder kept the slightly wonky curve of the dormer that was previously there so it would fit with the quirkiness of the rest of the house. The front of the property has been transformed by the new windows and I can’t wait to get started on the rest. Now for decorating that bedroom and finding my log burner.

Read more First Time Renovator blogs in the series.

Featured image: The front of the house with the existing brown windows and after, with the new wooden frames. They still need to seal and repaint the frames, but what a transformation the new windows have made!

So, did you enjoy this feature on new windows? Then you’ll love Window dressings explained: which is which?

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