When you tackle your own renovations, you may assume that window enlargement is the ideal solution for brightening up your living spaces. But while window enlargement is possible and often offers dramatic results, the process is complex.
In this blog, we discuss 10 factors that will inform your decision on whether or not to include window enlargement in your dream home design.
- Building Codes
Local building codes regulate all construction in your area to ensure the safety and soundness of finished structures. The most common building code issue with window enlargement is a matter of egress allowances. Specifically, modern fire codes require that windows be large enough that a person could climb out of them. If you expand horizontally but not vertically, the window may not be up to code.
Additionally, if the window does not open and the room has no other windows, the plans may not comply with building codes. Make sure you discuss your plans with an experienced builder who can make sure your home still meets the proper regulations.
If you want to enlarge a window in your basement, you must be aware of the drainage in your yard. You may be required to add a window well or adjust the slope of your landscaping in order to prevent flooding through the newly sized window, which could affect how your yard drains water.
- Energy Efficiency
While larger windows let in more light, they also can cause higher levels of heat transfer. If you choose to enlarge your windows, consider investing in energy efficient glass. Otherwise, the increased size of the window may also increase the room temperatures in the summer and decrease them in the winter.
- Exterior Materials
In addition to how a window enlargement changes the inside of your home, you must also consider how the renovation alters the outside of your home. This involves more than just picturing what your home will look like with bigger windows.
You must also consider how the exterior material of your home could affect construction. For example, if your home is made of brick, you may incur more labor costs because brick requires more effort to remove and must be relaid around the new outline of the window.
- Neighborhood Rules
In addition to building codes, you may have to check with your neighborhood authority before you enlarge your windows. Some historic districts and homeowners associations forbid such drastic changes to the exterior of homes within their borders.
- Internal Systems
When you cut into your walls to create the space for your larger window panes, you may find that certain building elements are already there. Plumbing and electrical systems often run through exterior walls. Relocating these systems is possible but can add to the cost of the renovation.
- Lead and Asbestos Risks
If you have an older home, you may find lead paint or asbestos when you begin working on your walls, so you may have to factor abatement or encapsulation into your renovation budget. If you suspect that either of these toxic materials could be an issue, exercise care during any work you do yourself, notify your contractor, and have materials tested by an expert.
- Pane Strength
When you think about window glass, you may not think of it as being particularly strong. And when you’re thinking of older single-pane windows, you might be right. However, when you enlarge a window to a custom size, to pick stronger glass due to building codes or other various factors.
In addition to choosing multi-pane windows, your glass supplier may recommend choosing tempered glass panes, which are less dangerous if they break.
- Permit Requirements
Even when you comply with building codes, you may need to obtain a permit before you can begin work. Unpermitted remodeling could affect the safety of your home and its resale value in the future.
You are more likely to need a permit when you enlarge your window to a bigger-than-average width, but the exact requirements depend on municipal rules. Your contractor can help you determine if a permit is needed and begin the process of obtaining it.
- Structural Support
One of the reasons building codes become and permit requirements become so tricky when expanding windows is that the construction requires workers to remove part of the framing from your home’s exterior. This action can alter the structural support for your home. In some cases, you may need to install a support beam or custom framing to make up for the support lost during the expansion.
As you create your renovation plans, discuss your desires and concerns with experienced professionals. A reputable contractor and residential glass expert can help you determine if any of these factors would prevent or complicate the enlargement of an existing window in your home. Consider all these characteristics as you plan ahead for increasing natural light in your home.
For window installation and other specialty glass services, trust the team at Ken Caryl Glass, Inc.
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