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Windows chaos

I’m gradually trying to drag my Victorian cottage at least into the 20th century, if not the 21st. The latest episode in the ongoing saga of renovation is getting new windows in the bedrooms. The current ones have very leaky secondary double glazing, and are draughty and have lots of condensation. As a result, the bedrooms are cold pretty much all year round – possibly an advantage in the height of summer, but a definite problem in the depths of winter! I’ve therefore decided that my major renovation efforts this year will go towards getting the windows in both bedrooms replaced with modern double-glazed units.

Unfortunately, nothing is ever straightforward in a property as old as this one, and so it’s been proved with the windows. Each bedroom is dual-aspect, with windows onto the front and side. So that makes four in total to be replaced. But they’re a very non-standard shape (a sort of squared-off arch) and they are all slightly different sizes. So no off-the-peg solutions here! They’ve each had to be hand-made by a joiner, and it’s taken ages to make them – not helped by the fact that the subcontractor who made the double-glazed glass panes got the size and shape wrong and had to redo the work. Fortunately at his expense, not mine!

I’ve had two carpenters here since Monday morning, and so far they’ve managed to nearly finish the two windows in the main bedroom. But they’ve not found it at all easy – there’s been an awful lot of swearing going on. It appears that when my bedroom was built (it seems to be an addition to the original house, but built several decades ago) the builders actually built the window frames into the brickwork, and then plastered over about half of the wooden frame to make a neat join. So in order to get the old windows out, the builders have had to cut them into sections and chip away the plaster around them. The amount of dust has to be seen to be believed!

At one stage yesterday morning I really wasn’t convinced that the two chippies were on top of the job. They are apparently both fairly new to the building firm I use, and aren’t as all over it as the main guys, who are impressively competent. The Dangerous Brothers, in contrast, hadn’t grasped that all the windows were different sizes – and therefore that they had to be really confident that they knew which one went where. They also showed an alarming propensity to knock all the windows out of bedroom one before starting to think about fitting the new ones. They¬†had to be firmly instructed to finish one window before starting the next one, and that it would not be acceptable to leave me overnight with a hole in the wall and no window! However a phone call to the builder’s head office soon sorted them out. I’m a good customer, and the boss has high hopes of persuading me to let him completely replace my roof in the next few years, so they really don’t want to upset me. Within half an hour, both a senior carpenter and the extremely competent foreman had turned up to see what was going on, give the Dangerous Brothers a good bollocking, and oversee the work for the rest of the day.

Today they nearly but not quite finished the second window in the main bedroom. The walls still need to be replastered around the windows, and some extra non-functional wooden panels added around the top of the arches. Then they can make a start on bedroom 2, which still has its original Victorian windows. They’re hoping that those should be easier to remove – I certainly hope so too!

{ 1 } Comments

  1. pauld | 28 June 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    think your better off staying in the 19th century, we’ve had more damp problems on 1980’s cavity wall extension than on solid 2ft thick walls built in 1800’s !