Just what the (window) doctor ordered: A quick, clean, accurate ‘Angel’

#528 in a series of true experiences in real estate
February 2007, Hills Newspapers

We were standing outside on the sidewalk looking at the big house when Anet noticed something odd about one of the upstairs bedroom windows. There at the bottom of the center sash, a white rag or crumpled sheet with the window glass resting on it.

When we went inside to see closer, there was no wood left, only cloth where the bottom of that window frame should have been. The frame had absorbed rain water and become soft in spots, then over time, holding more and more moisture, the cells in the wood broke down completely.

The process takes quite awhile, probably many years for this window to rot. Not to worry, we know the best window people, we told the owners, and promptly gave them the name and phone number for The Window Shop in Concord.

Having contacted Angel Gomez, the owners let him into the house a few days later. Angel measured the broken window and looked at other windows. He advised that the three side-by-side front bedroom windows all be replaced. He would make double-hung windows just as they had been built originally for this old house.

A few weeks later, Angel was back installing new wooden windows, prime painted on the outside. Everything looked great and the cost was less than $1500 for all three, installation included.

Quick, clean, accurate, well crafted – what else could anyone ask?

We already knew to expect good work from them because it was the same company that built windows for my house about 15 years ago when my husband and I were remodeling. We wanted to change out the existing ranch-style picture windows in several locations in the house. We replaced those 1950-era windows and frames with divided-pane windows built for us in exactly the configuration we chose.

Deciding on the style and layout was hard, mostly because we could choose just about anything; way too many possibilities. The windows could be fixed in place or hinged to open. Built in a series, or bank, of windows, include different pane and frame styles and sizes.

We used blue painter’s tape to try out the look of different sized panes on the old, single-pane window. Did we prefer many, smaller frames, or fewer, larger ones? Maybe a mix of both?

The old living room window, the largest one, was 12 feet wide and about 7 feet tall. It was placed low in the wall, almost to the floor. We criss-cross taped the glass in numerous ways until we landed on what we thought was right.

We had the window raised off the floor in the living room a couple of feet and the new window, made of unpainted fir to match the fir in the ceiling, has 8 panels, called lites, across the width and there are 3 panes in height. Window people call this “3 over 8″.

I look at windows everywhere I go. I love windows. Often I will remember the windows in a house when I can’t remember anything else. Recently I saw casement windows (the push-out kind, which I particularly like) in a house that are the best, most beautifully proportioned windows I’ve seen in maybe ever.

In a house built in the 1920s, wooden windows in good condition, and what was unusual was the frames: Closer to square in shape than the more typical tall rectangle, 6 lites over 6 lites. Very lovely.

The window people, Angel himself, helped me a year ago on another project at my house. Leading out to a partially enclosed patio I have 4 pairs of French doors. Because they are wooden and exposed to the weather, they swell and shrink during the seasons and certain ones must be shoved hard to open, pulled firmly to close during winter. I live with this because I’d rather have wood than not.

I try to keep the doors and all of the exterior of my house sealed and painted but it seems some part constantly needs renewal, and although I’ve been careful to seal the bottoms of the doors, water does wick up over time into the wood. In the case of one door, the lower portion got soft, then later, it rotted, and I decided it was time for replacement.

Angel arrived, measured, and went away to build a duplicate. Several weeks later he brought the new door and with him came 3 helpers. All four men worked like crazy. They took down all of my doors, laid each on sawhorses on the patio and tightened hinges where needed, caulked glass where caulk was cracked or had fallen out, planed the tops and sides of doors that fit too tightly, and overall improved the health of the doors.

On another day I asked Angel if he would replace cracked and broken window glass in a listing. “Absolutely,” he told me. The house was vacant, so we put a lockbox on it for him and described on the phone the locations of the broken glass.

Angel went when it worked for him without our having to meet him. He put new glass in 8 windows, cleaned up after himself and let us know how much money to send him.

It was easy, done right and at a reasonable cost. I told him, “Angel, you really are an angel.”

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