Worker does wonders with wooden windows

#578 in a series of true experiences in real estate
February 2009, Hills Newspapers

While readying a large house for market a few months ago we asked our expert window man to look at the windows. The house had been built entirely of wood 100 years before, including beautiful multi-pane casement windows, but little attention had been paid to sealing or otherwise maintaining the wood. In most every room, true especially on the second floor bedroom level, the windows were falling apart.

On the sleeping porch, a marvelous cabin-like space with windows looking out to tree tops, the wooden sliding windows were badly deteriorated. Plus it appeared that through a construction error, one window sill, a wide and broad one holding the most damaged sliding window, sloped inward allowing rainwater to soak the entire area inside and out. We puzzled over this construction for some time trying to figure why the carpenter had not built the slope in the other direction.

Angel Gomez who works for The Window Shop in Concord has replaced quite a number of wooden windows for us and for our clients. Often we have sent Angel directly to a listing on his own to measure and prepare a bid. But in this case we and the owner met him at the house so we could together look at all of the windows and hear what Angel had to say.

A number of the windows Angel pronounced ok, or at least not in need of total replacement. We were about to have the outside trim painted, making the glass tight and sealing the wood against the weather, and Angel felt that this would make them serviceable for some years.

But some windows were beyond such treatment and would need replacing. He measured the 12 to 14 pairs of casement windows that he would duplicate. He looked at the inward sloping window sill in the sleeping porch and told us that it would need to be completely removed and rebuilt. Angel’s a window guy, not a sill guy so he referred us to a carpenter he thought would be the right person to rebuild the area. Once the sill was new and the opening size set, Angel would come back to measure and give us a bid for the 3 pairs of sliding windows in the sleeping porch.

There were a couple of other things that we asked Angel about that day. One of the spindles on the stair railing had been scratched almost to toothpick size by a cat who must have spent years at it. We didn’t see how this one spindle could be replaced as it was locked top and bottom by other parts of the rail, but we asked Angel about it anyway, and he said he could fix it! Really? We were excited. “Add that to the bid,” we told him.

Then, in the kitchen, we were looking at windows again when Angel asked about the pencil markings on the doorway trim: children’s heights and dates recorded over 70 years. The owner was standing there and she told us which were her measurements and which belonged to her sisters and brother. Angel asked if she was going to take them when the house was sold?

I had just been telling the owner that probably the best thing to do was take good photos of the measurements and I repeated this to Angel. “No,” he said and he seemed very sure, “Life measurements she needs to take with her.”

Of course we asked how that was possible. Angel could remove the door casings intact and replace them with new. He’d have to order redwood with the right dimensions because the size used when the house was built is not commonly available but it could all be done. He’d put the work on his bid as a separate item.

Great. Lastly, we wanted a few pieces of cracked window glass replaced and this was no problem either. We got Angel’s bid in a day or two, prices more than fair for fine work, excellent duplication of the existing windows, careful attention to fitting the new windows and reusing wherever possible the existing, lovely old brass window hardware.

Pairs of casement windows, including installation, were around $1200, with larger sliding windows costing more. I believe Angel charged around $300 for the new stair spindle, which seems very inexpensive for what was involved, but maybe he offered it as a bonus because the main job for windows was so large.

Gently Angel removed the door casings bearing “life measurements” without damaging them at all. He replaced them exactly in kind so that they look like they’ve been there from the start. I’m not sure who this tickled more, Angel or the owner.

The owner did hire Angel’s carpenter referral to replace the sleeping porch sill and window frame, then Angel made new sliding windows that look just like the originals. The exteriors of all windows were prime painted by Angel’s crew, ready for a finish coat, and all work was completed and installed in a couple of weeks. Very satisfying all around.

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