December 7, 2016

Winter House Project Part 2

In my first "Winter House Project" post I showed you the windows we wanted to replace and the new window to replace them. The first step was to remove the old trims.


One of the reasons our house was so energy inefficient is because the original windows used a weight and pulley system for opening and closing. This requires space on either side of the window to accommodate cast iron sash weights.


These balance the weight of the window sashes making them easy to open and shut - that is until the pulley ropes break.

With the other double windows Dan has replaced, the builder's rough opening has had no header. The job of the header is to bear the weight of the materials above it. Without it, sagging will begin to take place. Instead of a header, the builder of our house used the window casing to act as a post to bear the weight. We assumed this set of windows would be the same and so were surprised when that wasn't the case.

There's actually space between the window casing and the 2x4 above it.

So nothing was holding up the 2x4 that served as a pseudo-header.

View from the outside looking in. You can see the 2x4
with the blown-in insulation above the window opening.

It sagged a little bit but not too badly.


Dan's new header is a sturdy 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches.


The best part was being able to use all of our own homegrown, home-milled lumber.

New sill on the table saw.

Since the new window is smaller than the two old ones, the next step was to frame out the space for wall with a new rough-in for the new window.


Amazingly, there have been no unpleasant surprises to fix or rebuild, and this is probably going to be the fastest house project we've ever done.


New window shimmed and secured. The next step will be to put up the new siding.

Click here for Part 3.

Winter House Project Part 2 © December 2016 

20 comments:

  1. That is a much smaller window? Will you miss the light or is the interior wall space more desirable? Nice job with the new mill and quite the money saver.

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    1. I think if it was the only window in the room I wouldn't be happy with it. As a corner room, though, the two replacement windows on the other wall will be larger than the originals, so I'm hoping the light will be what I want. I will be happy for some wall space, because this room had only one blank wall: large windows on two walls, and a fireplace and closet on a third. I'm thinking I'll be able to use the wall under this window to set up my sewing machine. :)

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  2. So glad that you finally had a project without surprises. Amazing how building codes have changed things over the years.
    We are STILL waiting for re-approval on our Church building plans from the Fire Dept. I don't understand why a change from paper to computer on their part meant our previous plans were no longer approved. Our cement pad was supposed to get poured a few weeks ago but has been held up by weather. sigh... I don't think we can expect to be in by Easter at this rate.

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    1. Oftentimes it's not the codes, it's the people interpreting the codes! And a lot of changes results in more confusion I find. It's a shame you won't be in by Easter though, that would be something to celebrate.

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  3. Although headers are standard practice these days on most new construction non-load bearing walls, it could be possible that those windows are in a non-load bearing wall and in which case, a header is not necessary. I've read that some builders are actually intentionally doing away with all headers in non-load bearing walls in favor of increased insulation and thermal efficiency.

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    1. Interesting. I confess I'm usually asking Dan for the explanations on these things when I blog, so I learn he goes. That would mean that no outer walls are load bearing then, in our case.

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    2. Well not every outer wall has to be load bearing. It is hard to determine without a picture showing roof structure as well. Generally outer walls under gabled ends are not load bearing. If your roof is hipped, then all outer walls are load bearing. Inner walls are harder to determine without an attic inspection or verifying which way the ceiling joists are running.

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    3. Then that wall wouldn't be load bearing.

      Dan does everything according to Carpentry and Building Construction by John Feirer and Gilbert Hutchings, which was published in 1976. While I honestly don't know what they say about headers and load bearing walls, your earlier comment about some builders intentionally not installing headers was interesting. I imagine practice has changed a bit since 1976, and I hate to appear cynical, but I can't help but wonder if some of these changes are more economic (profit-increasing) rather than for the sake of structure. BUT I have neither the knowledge nor experience to make an intelligent assumption about this. :)

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  4. Good idea for the sewing. I find that if I have window light behind my sewing machine, I get a bit blinded. That beautiful milled board under the windows may never get tested by rain, but it is so beautifully done!

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    1. I agree about sewing light (and computing). I will still need a work spot light, but that's always on the machine. I think this wall would be a good place for a sewing machine set-up.

      I hope that board never gets rain tested! It will be well coated in paint, just in case. We do get wind blowing in horizontal rain sometimes.

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  5. "If the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy." ~ Red Green

    Best of all is when you find a fella who is handy AND handsome, though I'll take charm & grace over looks any day.

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    1. Great quote. Grace, charm, and handiness are definitely attractive qualities in any person, and all things that can be taught and learned. Unfortunately none of it seems to be taught much these days.

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  6. Leigh,

    This window looks amazing. I love all the detailed work you and Dan have done on your home. Having a your personal wood mill is a true gift.

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    1. Thanks Sandy. It's funny but if we'd sat down in the beginning and drawn up detailed plans of what we thought we wanted, it would have been totally different. Having to prioritize and work within a budget has resulted in something more unique than I could have imagined beforehand.

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  7. Easy is always nice and a good light source for the sewing machine also score! The last house we lived in prior to our log house was one that began life as a "pool room" for an old cement pool that was installed in the early 1930's or so. So it went from one room to an almost 2000 sq. foot home over the course of about eighty years room by room. Talk about surprises!

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  8. Just wondering when your loom gets set up ... ;>)

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    1. Good question! It didn't occur to me to use this room as a studio/sewing room until recently. The sun room seemed a perfect place, but it really is too small for my large loom plus spinning wheels, plus stash, plus books. I've thought about getting a smaller loom, but really didn't want to do that. Now half of it is my office/library, with a current idea of putting a door in the middle of the windows and building a greenhouse right outside. That door will be another space invader. Somehow the idea of using the front bedroom occurred to me and the idea has grown. It could still be a sleeping place for the rare overnight guest, but to leave the space unused except for that sole purpose doesn't seem like a good use of it.

      Anyway, to answer your question, we still have one more big messy project for that room - replacing the other two windows. But you've got me thinking, if I can find alternate storage space elsewhere, I might could still get the loom set up. :)

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  9. I'm glad you didnt come across any surprises with project :)
    Our windows have made a huge difference in our house. I'm so glad we changed them.

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    1. It's amazing, isn't it!? Definitely worth it.

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