Monday, September 10, 2012

Seeing Things For the First Time

It constantly amazes me how our brains work when it comes to real estate. Sometimes I see things but more often than not, I find myself wondering how on earth I missed things. Let me give you an example.

When we first looked at this house before making an offer, there was a broken window in the dining room that the owner assured that he would get fixed before we moved in. When we made our final inspection, the window (an inner storm window) had been removed from the frame and was leaning against the dining room wall and the owner assured me that it was getting fixed before we moved.

When we moved, the broken window had been put back into the window but was still broken. I wasn't surprised so I removed it and took it down to the local glass shop to be fixed. It was just a single pane of glass with an aluminum edging all around it. I thought it would be fixed by the end of the day by reasonable shops.

After two and a half weeks of repeated calls and being told at how difficult it was to fix, I finally was able to pick it up. But when I got home and tried putting it in the window, it wouldn't fit. I took it out and measured it and found that the diagonal measurements were 3/16" off, i.e. the window wasn't square. After debating what to do, I put the window back in and after some finageling, got it to a point where it was just shy of fitting by about a 1/16" in one corner. The window being long and skinny had a lot of flex to it so I thought that if I were to get a putty knife into the corner and flex it just so, I might be able to get it into place. Long story short, the window broke again.

So I took it back to the shop, explained how it wasn't cut square and was told that I would get it back by that afternoon. I did receive a phone call an hour later from the owner who said that it should have flexed into place and that it not being square shouldn't have made a difference at all. In the end, he said he would fix the situation and this time send one of his men to insure that it was installed correctly. Another two weeks later, the man finally showed up.

First thing I did was measure the newly fixed inner storm window to see that it was 3/16" out of square leading me to believe their glass cutter isn't cutting square. The man sent with the window struggled with a putty knife to get the window in just like I had and several times I winced at the sounds of crash under stress but eventually he did get it in place and intact. I was happy to have that job done.

That was fixing something I had seen right off the bat before we had even bought the place. Several days after that window had been crossed off my list, a squeegee with telescoping handle appeared at my door step. It allows me to clean the windows on the north side of the house with ease instead of trying to suspend myself off the back side of an extension ladder and lean in enough to clean all five feet of the windows. It worked well but in the process of cleaning all the windows, I discovered that I have not one but two more windows that are broken. One is another inner pane on the garage that is cracked and the second one is in the soon to be nursery and is the outer pane. It is completely gone except for a few jagged shards still clinging to the sides of the casing. It is the more serious of the two since we do plan on heating the nursery this winter and because it is the outside pane, all the moisture can rain in on the inside pain and rot the window wood and/or leak to the inside of the house. *Sigh*

Now I am on the hunt for a different glass repair shop.


Ron said...

Finding people who are actually competent at fixing things is a real challenge nowadays.

If you can't find a decent glass cutter, you could try it yourself. Ideally, with some free windows off of CL.

I got lucky in that the local lumberyard will cut glass for me for free if I have the glass... makes me glad to fork over a couple of extra bucks for a bag of cement or whatever.

Ed said...

Ron - Part of the reason they said it took so long were because these were Pella windows and whatever Pella uses to adhere the trim to the glass is mega hard to get off. Had they been old school windows with quarter round holding the pane in, I would have tried what you suggested.

On the plus side, I ended up taking the second window to the same people and they were able to turn it around in just a few hours and did a great job on it. I thought they might jack up the price to recoup from their probably loss on the first window but they didn't so I'm fairly pleased with them right now.

I haven't tried our local lumberyard here but the one I just left was worthless. They only wanted to do business with contractors and priced their work accordingly. I'm not even sure there is a local lumberyard here anymore since the big box store has been here for almost a decade now. The only one I can think of went out of business probably five years ago unfortunately. There is an ACE hardware which is mega nice to go to if you don't need lumber or quantity of anything. They are easy in and out and the people who work there actually know their products.

Vince said...

They are having the very same problem here just now. The first lot of housing built using laser levels which allowed a far tighter tolerances and so savings on materials are in need of a spruce up. People are finding that what was a standard window size will no longer fit into the former gap for the glass since the warp and sag natural to settlement is squeezing the frame out of kilter. SO what was for the builder a boon has become anything but for the current owner. Such that each door and window is now tailored to for it's gap.

warren said...

I think I would not have bought my current house had I been using my normal eyes, not my homebuyer eyes. It seems like a constant problem for all people...oh well, I own a money pit!

Three Score and Ten or more said...

This is one time when your irritation with big box stores may be exacerbating problems. In my rental house, at the end of the season there were two broken windows (I rent to students with one year lease). When it came time to repair, I took the measurments of the windows (one of which was out of square) to Lowes and the tuy there cut pains to my measurements and I was able to slip them in.