Sunday, May 10, 2009

Window Worries




I was so happy last week when the windows & doors were delivered, but when I saw them, something didn't seem right. I thought the clerestory windows seemed smaller than I expected them to be. Then our architect, John Spears, stopped by the house early last week and also noticed that. He looked into this and the found that the salesperson at Quality Window & Door did not quote or order the proper clerestory windows. Instead of 3' x 3' windows, as specified in the window & door schedule detail, he ordered 2' x 2'. John had reviewed the quote in detail and did not notice that mistake. The right sized clerestory windows is extremely important as they are an integral part of the passive heating and cooling of the house. These smaller windows won't work from that perspective.

As if that wasn't enough of a problem, the hours and hours of discussions between John Spears and Quality Window & Door sales rep, with regard to ensuring the correct glass is used by WeatherShield in the manufacture of the Southern exposure sliders, seemed to have been forgotten as well. The standard glass was used, not the Cardinal Glass as specified by John. That means that all of the Southern sliders do not have the proper glass for the necessary solar heat gain co-efficient. 

There's not much point in building a passive solar house if the glass isn't right.

We all make mistakes. I probably make more than my fair share of them. But I try to catch them before someone else does and fix it. And if someone else catches my mistake, I apologize and work to get it fixed. 

So far, no apologies and after days and days and days, no answer as to what the fix will be (if any). I learned Friday evening that the owner of Quality Window & Door has been out of town and he'll be back on Monday, which is why they haven't been able to solve this problem. I hope we'll have a resolution identified on Monday. 

Here's the fix: 

1) replace the incorrect clerestory sized windows with the correct sized ones. 
2) replace the incorrect southern sliders with new factory-made sliders with the correct glass.
    -- NOTE: replacing the glass on-site with the correct glass is not an acceptable solution. We paid for factory-new windows with the quality control that comes from that environment and that's what we need to have installed in our house -- with the correct glass.
3) expedite the order with the factory so we do not have to hold up progress on the rest of the house for another five weeks while these windows are being made. It doesn't take five weeks to make/ship windows and doors. 

We remain optimistic that this can be accomplished. It's not that big of a deal in the overall context of a window & door business, but it's a huge deal for us and our house. Without the proper windows & doors, we might as well stop the project since the house won't be able to do what it was designed to do. 

Readers, do you think our expectations are too high? 


  1. Absolutely not. You specified exactly what you wanted, and this is not what you are getting. It's clearly their error and they are responsible for fixing it.

    I had an experience years ago when my ex and I replaced all the windows in the house we owned in Annandale. The discrepancy wasn't as huge as what you're experiencing, but from that experience, I learned a few things.

    You need to be very firm with them. They will try to suggest all sorts of compromises. Don't budge. Also, don't release any funds to them until everything is resolved to your satisfaction. Money is your only leverage, short of suing them.

    Write everything down. Present the fix you have described above to them in writing. Follow up all verbal discussions and agreements in writing. Get their consent to everything in writing. At this point, you really need to deal with the owner.

    Unfortunately, you don't have much leverage where time is concerned. There's not much you can do to force them to expedite your order.

    The other thing that concerns me about this situation is the construction under the windows that will have to be re-done (the wood and bricks). Who will pay for that? I'm surprised that this discrepancy was not noticed by the construction crew when they were building this, if they are following the plans. They had to build an extra foot of wall, and the window frames don't match the plans.

    Good luck with this. Keep us posted!

  2. That's terrible. I agree with everything said above, and especially the part about not paying them.

  3. This is really disappointing to hear. My husband and I are getting ready to build a house and we are seriously considering hiring John Spears, since we really love what you're doing with the earth bricks. I will continue to monitor your situation before making any decisions about hiring a house designer. What you laid out is a reasonable resolution to the problem. You hired so-called experts to do their jobs. They dropped the ball - you should not be harmed as a result of their mistakes.

    Good luck - I hope it's resolved to your satisfaction quickly!

  4. I agree with above. It certainly is not your mistake, and the amount of planning and thought put into this house should not go down the tubes over the window situation.

    I would think the subcontractor would want to demonstrate some pride in their product and make it right. Good luck with this argument.

  5. Just wanted to express my sympathy! We are gearing up for a big project and it's amazing how many little details there are to keep up with. One of the pros should have caught this one though-the contractor, the architect, the sub....the owner hires these people so they can keep track of the details! Best of luck to you. Let us know how it turns out.

  6. We are also close to sign a contract with John Spears, the architect. I am amazed at the attention to detail one has to have.
    I wish you get this resolved soon.