That %^&#% Window

Friends, family, and heck, random strangers at this point know that our neighbor’s tree fell on our house last March. I’ve blogged a little about it, but I haven’t written up too much yet. This is because (1) I didn’t want to jinx our rebuild as it was happening and (2) it’s still a bit tender to even think about it.

I’m sure I’ll be mining this for ideas for a long time, but for now I want to focus on a single item, the bane of my existence for a couple months: The New Window.

Let me back up. When the tree fell, we realized the house would need extensive work: the entire back of our house was affected. So we figured we should take advantage of the situation to also improve the house rather than just bringing it back to its pre-tree condition. We started by dreaming BIG. What if we added a bathroom? Lots of square footage? But the reality of our finances quickly made it clear that was not to be. OK, but smaller improvements would make a difference too.

There was one in particular we’ve been wanting for a long time: dividing one of the bedrooms in half. The existing room was much too big, and it also meant that the girls had to either share the big room or be very uneven: one in the ginormous room and one in a tiny one. SO. Dividing the room seemed very feasible: all it would need is a partition wall, a new door, and a window where there was a closet. No problem, right? [<- Can you guess that is an exceedingly sarcastic question?]

1. We knew this would require ARB approval since we live in the historic district and the window would be visible from the right of way. We got the approval in a mostly painless if very time-sensitive process. Hooray!

2. The contractors thought this would be easy and cheap, other than the electrical work, which, yay!! They put up the 2x4s for the new room and got the openings ready for the door and window. Hooray again!

But then: the City said no, because the opening for the window is less than 3 feet from our property line, and you can’t put openings there. Does this make sense to you? Me neither. There are already lots of windows on the side of our house. Our neighbor was fine with a new window. But codes are codes.

The contractor tried to come up with another solution, but their ideas were all unworkable because at least one dimension of the reconfigured rooms was too small. [There’s lots more detail here, and weeks of trying different things, and failing, trying again, and failing again. I’ll spare you.]

But then! The City said we *could* add a new window if we blocked up another opening. In other words, as long as opening remained the same, it doesn’t matter where they are. Of course, blocking a window wouldn’t work – who wants a dining room without windows? – but there is a vent in our attic.

We already were getting a new roof, so adding a roof vent and blocking off the wall vent was easily feasible. But that vent was pretty small, and the window couldn’t be bigger but needed to be big enough for egress.

What does this mean? It means that the window was super crazy expensive. It’s a true divided light double hung sash wood window. It had to be custom made (obviously).

Pic of the window from outside.
The new window is the one on the second floor, just below the vent. This is before the paint was finished.

When I look at this window, I’m reminded of the headaches of the construction process. The fact that it took longer than planned, that we had to go back to the drawing board multiple times, that it felt like we were in a permanent purgatory of not knowing. But I’m also reminded that the new rooms are so much better than they were. The girls both have rooms that are nice and relatively even. And we have a guest room! It is much, much more practical.

In the end, the %^&#% window was worth it. Phew!

Pic of the window
It’s pretty, really. Which, for that price, it should be.