Replacing windows, frame and all

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I am planning on replacing all of the windows in a house that I own that is being completely rehabbed and will then be rented out. I am wondering about the possibility of replacing the entire windows, frames and trim and all, rather than just inserting new replacement windows within the existing frames. In other words, ripping out all of the existing windows down to the studs and putting in new windows and new inside and outside trim. I won't be doing the work myself; I will be hiring people to do it.
Part of why I am thinking of doing it that way is that the property was built long before 1978 and I would like to remove as many potential sources of lead paint as possible. I do know that to do that kind of work these days the contractors will need to be certified and use lead safe practices etc.
How much more difficult or complicated is it to go ahead and replace the entire windows, frames and all, versus just inserting replacement windows in the old frames? My guess is that the window rip-out and replacement part is roughly the same either way, and the additional work in a complete replacement will mostly just involve buying and installing the new trim.
Is that correct? or, is there more to it that I am not taking into consideration? Any thoughts or experiences regarding this idea would be appreciated.
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Probably at least 50% more cost to do the entire job. If you are worried about lead paint, there is much more to worry about than just the windows. Every painted surface in the house probably has lead paint.
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I've just finished replacing all the windows in my old house. I bought 'new construction' windows for all of them. One huge difference is that I did all my own work- so labor was a minor issue-- but here was my reasoning behind replacing the windows rather than getting 'replacement windows' 1. Don't know if I could get same-size replacements. 2. New windows look better, and are more energy efficient. 3. About 1/2 of the new windows were different sizes- by far- than the old ones. I made the north & west side windows smaller- and the south facing windows larger. I also shrunk the 36x60 windows that were in a bathroom, a hallway & a closet. 4. When I went window shopping- I was able to shop for what I wanted-- not what would plug into what I had.
I personally don't think the windows themselves were a lot more work- but I *did* spread the job over 20 years.<g>
The downside is that siding and sheetrock need to be accounted for. The sheetrock was no problem as I was re-doing the rooms anyway. The siding wasn't an issue for because I've been replacing chalky aluminum with vinyl as I go along.

Lead abatement questions should be addressed with the contractor. *If* you have lead and have to deal with it, you have my sympathy.

And maybe putting in headers and a kneewall-- my house is balloon construction & they paid no attention to such things-- just threw a window in where they wanted it.
They weren't difficult to do - but took more time and needed more tearing apart of the inside wall.
Jim
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re: "my reasoning behind replacing the windows rather than getting 'replacement windows'"
1. Don't know if I could get same-size replacements.
You didn't have to worry about that. See Item 4
2. New windows look better, and are more energy efficient.
I'm not sure what you mean by either of those items. Are you referring to "new" as in "new construction" or "new" as in newer than the old windows - which would mean that "new" would also include VRW. Please explain. Are new construction windows more energy efficient than a properly installed VRW?
3. About 1/2 of the new windows were different sizes- by far- than the old ones. I made the north & west side windows smaller- and the south facing windows larger. I also shrunk the 36x60 windows that were in a bathroom, a hallway & a closet.
You didn't have to worry about that. See Item 4
4. When I went window shopping- I was able to shop for what I wanted-- not what would plug into what I had.
You didn't have to worry about that.
If you stay away from the big box stores, VRW are custom made to your size specifications for the same price as stock big box windows.
I bought all of my VRW from the local Norandex-Reynolds outlet and paid the same price for custom-sized, higher-spec'd windows as the big boxes charged for the stock sizes/specs. Comparatively, it was "one step up" spec-wise from the big box stock windows - for the same price.
I only had to wait about a week for each order. They placed all orders on Tuesdays for delivery the following Tuesday, so the max wait would be 13 days if I ordered on a Wednesday. One window or 10. I think I did 9, then 3, then 1 and it was all the same process. I've got one 48 x 48 picture window to go this spring.
I also bought my entry door and storm door from the same dealer. Everything I said about the VRW applies to the doors also.
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Some of can't bear the thought of VRW. We want REAL windows. Vinyl- clad may make sense to keep upkeep down, but IMHO vinyl is not a structural material. People always talk about 'lifetime' warrantees, and how their 20 YO VRW look fine, but from hearing moans and wails of people with plastic windows, I am dubious. A properly installed wood window, as long as you keep a coat of paint on it (which many people don't, sadly) can easily last 100 years or more.
-- aem sends, stuck on Google till New Years Eve...
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wrote:

And you need to remember, custom windows can be made to ANY size, so the original can be replaced with a brand new window that fits the original hole with no siding or drywall issues. I've even been able to re-install the original trim in several cases.
I've seen some real butchers install both insert and frame-out windows - - - - -.
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On Dec 17, 4:05pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

re: "I've even been able to re-install the original trim in several cases."
I did just that with the exterior aluminum and the interior wood trim.
The exterior trim had been installed after the triple track storms so it had to be removed in order to get the storms off.
Removing the spacers that had been used allowed me to slip the aluminum trim up against the VRW and use caulk to fill in any gaps.
Every contractor I spoke to told me I would have to have the trim replaced - at a cost of course - if they installed the windows. It probably would have been faster for them to bend new trim than it took me to remove, clean and replace the old, but I had time on my side and saved a lot of money by doing that.
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Replacing all (i.e. frames as well as windows) is the normal way window contractors work: i.e. you need not plan to provide any special instructions to your workforce. Current methods of installing window frames use technology unavailable in the 1970s (e.g. expanding foam to fill voids with thermal insulation.)
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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On a frame house where the exterior siding is to be replaced a complete rip out is the only way I would do it.
A brick or stone home presents more of a challenge but new construction style is still my preference.
I was moderately surprised to see that posters to date agree with me.
--
Colbyt
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
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wrote:

As far as I'm concerned, and having worked for 2 reputable window contractors over the years, the ONLY correct way to replace a window is "frame out" Tear the old window out to the original rough opening and replace the entire window. It sure makes a better LOOKING job, and you get to properly seal and insulate where the window goes into the framing.
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wrote:

Can't speak to the lead. Might only be in the exterior paint. But for renting that's a valid concern. You might take chips/scrapings to a lab that will tell you if it's lead-based paint. After that, the folks doing the work can give you estimates of inserts vs. frame/window. That's how you know the cost difference. Then you hope the workers have good framing skills. I had inserts put in all my windows a few years ago. Brick house. There were no sizing issues in getting exactly the windows we wanted, and they look/operate real good. Frames were all square enough and sills were sound so the guys doing the work had no problems, and they insulated all voids that were uncovered.
--Vic
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re: "The warranty may void if the window company determines the windows were not installed correctly. Best to use an installer the is trained to factory expectations."
You know, I've been thinking about this and I'm not sure that's as big a factor as some folks claim. Let's look at the numbers.
I saved a boat-load of cash by installing my own windows.
What's the percentage of labor v. material to have a contractor do it? Let's say it's as low as 50% - and I'm sure it's more in many cases.
Now, what are the odds that I'm going to have a warranty related issue *and* that the company is going to void the warranty because they don't like the way I installed them?
Let's use round numbers and say I paid $200 per window for 10 windows. That's $2000 for a DIY job, $3000 for a contractor to do them. Even at a low 50% upcharge, I'd have to have 5 windows go bad *and* be denied warranty coverage before I'd be out any more money than if the contractor did them originally.
If a window goes bad and the company balks, I'd simply buy a new one for $200 and put it in myself. I'd still be $800 ahead for the whole job, and that's assuming I had to buy a whole new window and not just a sash or two. 2 windows go bad? I'm still ahead $600.
What are the odds that any competent DIYer is going to screw up more than half the windows he installs to such an extent that the warranty is voided?
.
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On 12/17/2010 2:23 PM DerbyDad03 spake thus:

Can you get windows that cheap? Decent ones?
I ask because I just installed two new windows, Marvin Integrity casements. The client paid almost $700 for them (but will be able to claim a 30% tax credit for them by the end of this year).
These were low-end windows (wood interiors but vinyl exteriors). And I assume that double-hungs will be more expensive than casements.
--
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re: "Can you get windows that cheap? Decent ones?"
From: http://www.vinyl-replacement-windows.com/replacement-window-cost-guidelines.html
*** Begin Included Text ***
Vinyl Replacement Window Cost Guidelines
On average, vinyl windows can be one of the lesser expensive types of windows. The average window size is 30 inch by 48 inch and can range in average cost from $150.00 to $500.00 per window.
*** End Included Text ***
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That's what spray foam is for ;}

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EVERY pro installer uses spray foam - to install it right.(the spray foam isn't the be-all and end-all, but is virtually "required" for a tight installation.) Use the "low expanding foam" only, or it will warp the window very badly.
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In most cases the closed cell blocker, if used, is just to keep the foam in place. (so it doesn't run out all over either the inside wall or the outside trim) as it expands.
The R value would be pretty close (per inch), but the Backer rod does not make as sure a seal, and you will likely get more foam in the joint than you will get backer rod - so the total r value would be higher
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On Dec 19, 9:10pm, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Based on my experience of using backer rod - as backer rod for caulk - leads me to question its ability to hold foam in place.
It sure doesn't take much to push backer rod deeper into an open cavity than you might want it so I don't see how it would not just be pushed out of the way by the expanding foam.
I've used minimally expanding foam and seen it expand it's way out from behind nailed on trim. I can't imagine that backer rod wouldn't just get pushed right out of the way.
Am I missing something in how it would be used with foam?
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RogerT wrote:

Can't help you on the windows, but I am curious as to why you would want to remove sources of lead paint?
Lead poisoning from paint was extremely rare, even back when lead paint was in common use. The most common method of ingestion was from children eating the paint chips!
You're on the horns of a dilemma. If you hire an EPA-certified lead abatement team, you'll pay maybe 50% more for the project, but there may be no lead involved! On the other hand, if you test for lead - with a view toward saving the premium - and lead is discovered, you'll have to disclose that the property is, or once was, contaminated with lead and may present a hazard to humans and chickens.
In my view, the most economical practice is to paint over whatever's there, sealing in any problem.
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IMO, if lead is known to exist, best to get rid of it on your own now, before any testing is done. With the hysteria it causes today, painting over is not an option and having it reduces the ability to sell the house later.
I cannot imagine the tedium of removing lead from window panes, especially if you have 12 over 12.
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