Botched window installation job?

MichiganJenSeptember 13, 2009

Hi everyone,

I recently had 10 Marvin wood replacement (insert) windows installed in my old Victorian to replace some badly weathered double-hungs. The windows seem to be high quality, but I'm disappointed with the installation job. They must not have taken very accurate measurements, because the windows are all significantly smaller than the opening. Typically there is a 5/16"-7/16" gap on both sides of the window, and a gap of 1/4"-2/3" on top -- so I have lost a good amount of glass and incoming light.

The installer insisted that this wasn't a problem. But he didn't seem to know what he was doing, and just wanted to complete the job as quickly as possible. He was about to cut into my windowsills and put the entire replacement window deeper into the house, rather than cutting off the exterior stop. Luckily, I caught him and talked him out of that.

They put in a bead of expanding foam to fill the gap around the window on the interior, but there is a big vacant slot surrounding the window on the exterior, which has not been filled. I'm not sure what should be done there, but it clearly should be filled with something... A few of the windows are a bit tilted, by about 1/32" per vertical foot.

On the interior, I can't re-use my original 1/2" trim, because it isn't wide enough to cover the foamed gap and go up to the groove on the insert's frame. My trim would have worked fine if the window was sized correctly for the opening. Now, I'll need to make new trim, at least 15/16" wide.

I'm usually DIY for my home projects, but hired this out because I thought that a professional would be able to do a better job with fitting, installation etc. So this has been very disappointing...

What do you think of this situation? What is the appropriate size of the surrounding gap? I'm hoping to collect some opinions/advice before I make a complaint. To re-replace all of those windows would be a major pain, since I'd have to prime and paint them all myself (weeks of frustrating work). Would I be justified in asking for a refund of the installation costs? This was a $12,000 job, covering both materials and labor.

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Following Marvin's instructions the windows should have a 3/16" gap on each side and a 1/4" gap at the top. But that assumes that your windows were perfectly square - if not the gap will be larger in some places.

You do lose glass area with inserts - no way around that. Didn't the installation include the replacement of the interior stops? It seems like they should have informed you up front if they weren't going to be able to reuse the existing ones.

Here is a link that might be useful: Measuring Instructions

    Bookmark   September 18, 2009 at 10:23AM
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Problem is Marvin has replacement inserts and new contruction frames. The depth of the two frames are 3 1/2 for the insert and 5 9/16 for the new construction. If you houses walls are too small for the new construction frame you could have major problems. Some installers think they can fit the new construction frame into a existing opening and make it work. That is not always true. So please post what type of frame is it and where are you at right now.

This is why most homeowners go with vinyl windows. Vinyl windows go in easy with zero problems.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 12:58AM
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michiganjen, can you explain to me what you mean by the "gaps" in your windows? do you have a photo of the problem?

We are in the process of trying to decide whether to go with Marvin Integrity, Marvin Infinity, or a Trimline window. Different places carry the integrity and the infinity, but each has told us we wouldn't lose too much glass area (acutally, the trimline guy said the same). I wish I could find someone somewhere who could really tell me what the difference would be. The Infinity guy who was here last week used his fingers to show the difference at less than an inch in overall width, and said there may actually be a smidge more glass vertically.

The small window samples they have had sure look to me like there is a big difference to what we have now, but It's really hard to tell for sure.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 2:00PM
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i'm familiar with the situation you're describing, the inside sill sticks out(towards exterior) past the inside stops, meaning on the bottom of the opening between the sill and outside stops there is more like 2.75" rather than the 3.25" needed for a replacment window

the correct way to do these is to cut the sill off even, with a knife score and careful chiseling(or in some cases you can cut the new window around the sill)

sounds like you talked him out of doing them correctly

are you really going to miss that little 1/2" X 3/4" strip of wood that resided under the lower sash out of view anyway???

sorry to say it but imo there was more damage done to the integrity of the house by changing the position of the window, all the shadow lines are now thrown off inside and out, not to mention removing the exterior blind stops

if it were my job i would have put away my tools and refused to put these windows in in this hack job manner

the customer is not always right. shame on your contractor for not pointing it out

    Bookmark   October 13, 2009 at 5:11PM
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If you want to know how the window should be installed look at the instructions that came with it or go get them from the Marvin website. Why would you be giving the installer advice without having studied this information?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2009 at 10:21PM
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dennisgli: The interior stops should be replaced, the job hasn't been finished yet.

jdavis: The depth of the Marvin wood ultimate insert double hung window is 4 9/16", significantly larger than the jamb pocket depth on my originals. It's a 1906 home with original varnished wood interior trim everywhere; vinyl would have been horrendous...

fusion866: I appreciate your reply, but that's not my situation here. My original sash slid down behind the windowsill, it did not rest on top of it. The outer sill edge was even with the inside stop trim. The installer wanted to cut away part of the windowsill and move the replacement window further into the house -- past the position of the original interior stop trim. This would have required moving the interior stop trim further into the room. If the window was moved in as proposed, the interior stop trim would have jut out further into the room than any of the surrounding window casing woodwork. Would not be pretty...

macv: I *have* read the Marvin installation instructions. That's why I'm disappointed in the shoddy install job...

    Bookmark   October 15, 2009 at 4:38PM
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