Window installation problems

Novice77August 8, 2014

We had all our windows replaced in a high end property. We did not know what kind of windows we had and allowed a contractor we thought to be expert determine what windows to order. Our previous windows effectively kept out the traffic noise from the two highways we are adjacent to. We were VERY unhappy with the job and have been trying to get someone to do something about it. Our general contractor has finally determined that the subcontractor (sub 1) he hired, did a substandard installation and is sending someone another subcontractor (sub 2) in to fix the problems. Sub 2 is the same person who the general contractor originally sent to assess the windows when we kept complaining about the traffic noise and the quality of the job. Here is what he determined. 1- Windows were not properly insulated. When you take trim off windows you can see spaces where there is no insulation. 2- They were not shimmed properly. 3- Some were installed unevenly. 4- The windows were not ordered for the proper wall width, so they all stick out almost 1/2 inch into the room. 5- Trim was made for flush install, so the trim was either glued together, or where it could not be seen (top and bottom) it was left with air between the trim and wall. 6- The windows were ordered with plain glass that has very low STC numbers. When Sub 2 came the first time, the solution was to start over. Order new windows and do the job again. When the owner of the contracting firm found out what was planned, he stopped the process and said that they were going to fix everything instead.
Obviously, we are concerned about our enjoyment of our home, but also retaining its value.
Questions for you experts:
1- Can they really fix this or are we going to end up with a better, but not quality job?
2- Will proper installation solve the traffic noise? If not, what can we do?
Thanks for your help.

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Windows on Washington Ltd

1. You can fix this install based on what you have told me.

2. While improving and sealing up the install should provide you with some measured improvement, if the windows were not specified with the correct glazing or upgrades to deal with the noise, you probably will not get the results you are looking for.

You can re-order the windows or combine the windows with a storm window option.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 10:28AM
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Thanks windowsonwashington! You confirmed my suspicion that we will only solve part of the problem. Since the window installer and general contractor are telling us that this is the same kind of window we had...and we replaced them all, so we have no way of proving that isn't true...we are in a jam. The only thing that could help us is to determine what kind of sashes were used on the twin home attached to ours. How does someone determine what glass was used, etc. on a window? Hope that makes sense! Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:05PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Pull up the build sheet on the windows.

Call the manufacturer.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:26PM
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Unfortunately, the window manufacturer records do not go back to 1985.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

If you are trying to confirm laminated glass, just tap on the window. If it has a thuddy sound (i.e. dull) its laminated.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 12:45PM
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First- did you bother to ask your contractor what type of window was going to be installed?
If he did, did you do any research on the window brand?
Lastly, did you ask the contractor who would be installing the windows?

My take so far is that you used a " jack of all trades" contractor who doesnt have expertise in windows. Quite frankly, i am not at all surprised at the outcome here. I see this all the time and the answer is always the same; " he was recommended by a friend ".
Hate to send harsh but its like buying a house without getting an inspection.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Yes, mmarse1, we made many mistakes. It was an insurance claim and we hired a general contractor who we trusted, to handle the details. They bid the windows and the insurance company got another (much lower) bid and the contractor hired the low bidder. All of this was done by the contractor's rep without ever consulting us. Obviously, the sub they used for the windows (who came highly recommended by the insurance agency) is a total scammer. What we have learned is that you can't trust anyone even if they come recommended. You also have to insist that you are copied on all correspondence with the insurance company. Had that happened, we would have had a chance to get in front of this. Our only hope now is that they want to be paid. The insurance company wrote checks to us for the entire job (roof, exterior work..these have been inspected and well as the windows). They have told us to hold all payment until we are satisfied with the job. Live and learn.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 1:34PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

Keep us posted and I hope this gets fixed up soon enough.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:12PM
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"we made many mistakes .... we hired a general contractor who we trusted, to handle the details"

This is not to belittle you. However you took 'the easy / lazy way - the contractor will handle all the details.' When you sit back, and don't get involved in a major decision - this is what happens.

You should have been involved in the window selection, and had the make / model of the window specified on the contract.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Sorry to hear about the problems you've had, and sorry that you seem to be getting roughed up a bit here.

In retrospect I'm sure you'd do things differently, but just wanted to let you know that we do appreciate you providing additional information regarding the insurance claim as it will very likely help some other homeowners somewhere down the line avoid the same trouble.

Best wishes with everything.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:37PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

+1 Ultra Windows.

He/she is helping folks out in the future and thank you for that.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 7:23PM
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To Geoffrey B
No kidding!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:32PM
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Thanks for all the feedback. Even the tough stuff. We all live and learn. A couple more questions. I have made multiple calls trying to find more information on the windows that were originally installed to no avail. There are several things that I have found, but I don't know if they are helpful. I am going to throw them out in case they mean something to you experts.
1- Prior to removal of the old windows, I found a code in spacer between the glass. The code said, "IGCC CBA 361 August 14, 1985". Does this give me any meaningful information?
2- When the blinds did not fit, the sub told me that it was because our windows had offset (inset) jambs and that the new ones didn't. Is that information that tells me anything?
3- I looked at our original home inspection (done in 2000), and the inspector said the windows were double glazed. In my research, it appears that this only refers to the fact that we have double pane, rather than single pane. Is that correct, or does the inspector's note indicate something other than that?
I really appreciate everyone who has tried to help. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 10:49PM
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1) No

2) No

3) No

Sorry, but this is going to be difficult to assist with since you don't know what window you had before. Posting up some photos might possibly allow us to be of more help to you.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 10:09AM
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I just finished remodeling my master bath - with permits. I installed a new window.

The IBC has strict specs about insulating and sealing around doors / windows / sill plate. I know this from speaking with my building inspector.

Did you have a building permit for the replacement of these windows?

It sounds like the original installation did not meet these specs. Whatever is done (new windows or a fix-up) - I would want someone to inspect the installation before the trim goes on. To make sure they are installed properly, and that they work properly.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:19AM
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Good news on our window problem. After a consult with an attorney, a phone call with our insurance adjuster, we sent a stern, demanding letter to the general contractor. The result was that the contractor agreed to try the reinstall and insulation on one window and see if it solved the traffic noise issue. It did not. The owner of the contracting company went back to the insurance company and is now proposing that in addition to the reinstall, they will replace all the sashes.

Since I have learned a thing or two in this process, I have asked them for very detailed specifications and want to make sure that we are really going to end up with the same quality and performance (soundproofing) that we had previously.
Here is my concern and my questions. 1- The sashes that they installed carry the following values: STC-27, OITC-23. The sashes that they are proposing are STC-34, OITC-27. From everything that I have been reading, it appears that these values will not be high enough to block the traffic noise from the intersection of the two interstates we live next to. What values should we be looking for?
2- Our roof mate likely has the same windows that we had in our home and we would like to have those windows evaluated to help us correctly specify our job going forward. Since our windows are already gone, and we know that the window manufacturer is no longer in the window business, and that the company does not have records dating back to when our home was built, our neighbor's existing windows appear to be our only hope of discovering the original window specifications. Problem can we do that? What information do we gather to find out? How can we tell what kind of glass was used, the amount of space between the panes, the thickness of the panes, etc.?

I apologize for the length of this and appreciate any help that you can give us. We are trying to be smarter this time around. Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2014 at 3:14PM
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