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Make the most of your home investment

Ask our broker Replacement Windows:


QandA WITH PETER G. MILLER Best Models Deliver Beauty, Brawn
A Gift, a Loan: How Can I Best

Photo courtesy of Pella


BY CHARLES SCUTT
Help My In-Laws Qualify for a Content That Works
Mortgage?
I
t’s easy to take windows for granted.After
all, we look through them every day with-
Q: My in-laws need to refinance. out really looking at them. But chances are
However, before they can get a those old windows, especially if they’re the
double-hung wood frame type common in
new loan the lender is requiring homes built decades ago, could be costing you
that they pay off $5,000 in con- a lot more than the time it takes to scrape,
sumer debts. That’s where we clean and repaint them every few years.
come in – they want the money Today’s replacement windows are typical-
from us. Can we give it to them? ly better designed and manufactured than
those made years ago, and are available with
more aesthetic and insulating options. New
A: The first question you need to ask is whether you windows can add to your home’s appear-
can afford to give $5,000 without harming your finan- ance, giving it a fresh charm and practical
cial position. If the answer is yes, then you should have beauty that can increase its resale value.
several thoughts. First, consider yourself lucky that you Replacement windows made from the best
have the money and can help. Many households are materials can reduce your heating and cool-
not so fortunate. ing bills by up to 15 percent according to the
Silver Springs, Md.-based National
Second, ask if the money is to be a gift or a loan. If it Fenestration Rating Council, a nonprofit
is to be a gift, then you should not have any expecta- organization that monitors window energy
tion of repayment or interest. If it happens your in-laws ratings.The savings you reap mean your new
ultimately repay the money, that’s great, but not windows may essentially pay for themselves
required. over time.
Third, if the money is to be a loan, then it must be “This year, the high cost of heating and the
dramatically fluctuating weather conditions
disclosed to the lender and proper paperwork should have caused many homeowners to assess the
be written. energy efficiency in their home,” says Bob
Maceda, president and chief executive officer
Q: Is it true that you are penalized if you pur- of Stanek Windows, Cleveland, Ohio.“Most
chase a house and then sell it before two years people replace their windows because they
have passed? want to save energy and money year round
while adding to the comfort and beauty of
their homes.”
A: You may be referring to the federal capital gains But purchasing replacement windows is a
Double duty: the best replacement windows deliver aesthetic benefits and tough energy efficient features.
requirement: Essentially, if a couple has lived in a home Here, contemporary kitchen casement windows enhance the view over a kitchen sink.
costly and, thanks to the range of options,
for two of the past five years and then sell, as much as complex proposition.A basic frame window,
$500,000 in profits ($250,000 for a single person) can installed, starts at about $250 and can climb When choosing a window, give thought to Decide on the best frame material for your
be sheltered from capital gains taxes. rapidly depending on the materials and man- the look, style and function you desire.You needs.There are three main types: vinyl,
ufacturer. Custom cut windows, large bay, may prefer a traditional double-hung window wood and aluminum, with many hybrid
However, this is a relative matter. It’s best to avoid bow or picture windows, and any window that lifts up and down, a slider-type window designs constructed from two more materi-
taxes if possible, but if you have a big profit and must that requires special installation care will with two or three windows (one or two of als.The frame material you choose will gov-
pay taxes, that’s a far better situation than having a cost you more. Plan to spend time research- which can slide open left or right) or a case- ern physical characteristics of the window,
loss. For specifics, please talk to a tax professional. ing the best possible option that suits your ment window that can be “cranked” open or
home, climate and pocketbook. closed with an inside handle. See WINDOWS, Page 2
Q: We just bought an existing home. The home
inspector detected many hairline cracks in the
foundation but said they were normal for a Seal Leaks to Cut Heating Costs This Winter
home of this age. We have now found that one
section of the foundation was one to two inches BY PAUL ROGERS other means to heat, if your envelope, insulation is usually start by shutting all windows and
Content That Works home isn’t properly sealed you the first thing that comes to doors and turning on all fans that
higher than the rest of the foundation. We think
two large trees are the cause. might as well be burning bills in mind. But as the Ames, Iowa- blow air outside, including the
Sure, converting to solar heat an old oil drum.And as energy based Iowa Energy Center says, stove exhaust, the clothes dryer,
Our inspector did not detect the presence of could save you a furnace full of prices continue to climb, this fall “If you don’t tighten up your bathroom fans and any tightly
the foundation and slab issues. Although he cash over the long haul and help is the perfect time to tighten home first, money spent on insu- mounted window fans.
could not pull up the carpet to examine the slab protect the environment, to your building “envelope.” lation may be wasted.” Light an incense stick and
directly, one of the windows would not close, the boot. But before you take such a The building envelope is The basic principle is simple: pass it around all areas where air
window frame was not rectangular, the front major step to alternate energy roughly defined as the barrier to Plug any potential areas where leaks are most common. Ceilings,
you should, as the saying goes, outside air formed by the roof, warm air is leaking to the out- walls and floors account for near-
See ASK OUR BROKER, Page 2 make sure your own house is in walls, windows, doors and foun- side.The first step to plugging ly one-third of all air leaks in a
order. dation.When people generally those leaks is finding them.To
Whether you use solar, gas or think of improving a building’s locate tears in your envelope, See LEAKS, Page 2

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Photo courtesy Simonton Windows
Ask our broker
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

door was out of alignment, there were cracks in


the stucco, there were patches in the dry wall,
the roof line was raised in the area of root dam-
age, the patio ceiling was raised and paint was
chipping.
If we had known about these issues we would
not have purchased this house. Because of these
problems we will sell, but since we need to fully
disclose these problems to the next buyer we
may not be able to sell the house at the right
price. What can we do?

A: Were these problems visible and obvious at the


time you bought? What about the walk-through inspec-
tion before closing?
There are some questions to ask: First, review the sell-
er disclosure statement.Was it accurate? Second, did
the inspector note the door, roof and window prob-
lems? Third, did you have a buyer broker? If yes, did he
or she recommend the inspector? Fourth, is there any
possibility that the cracks and other problems became
A room with a view: choosing the best window calls for evaluating the room, the house, even the region and climate
where the house is located. Homeowners should plan to research their options and suppliers closely. suddenly worse because of weather or some other fac-
tor? An attorney can help you look at these questions in
greater detail.
WINDOWS a number between 0 and 1.The
higher the VT, the more light is
location.
Bill Lazor, product manager
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 transmitted. for Simonton Windows, Q: We have been renting since we sold our
• Air Leakage – measures how Parkersburg,W.Va., says it’s time house two years ago. We have been looking to
such as frame thickness, weight much outside air comes into a to replace your old windows if purchase a better home with a larger lot. We have
and durability. Since the sash and home or building through a they’re more than 20 years old made many offers but for different reasons have
frame represent 10 to 30 percent product. AL rates typically fall in or if you notice: been unable to buy. Unfortunately, with the way
of the window’s surface, their a range between 0.1 and 0.3. • Condensation inside the
properties also will greatly influ- The lower the AL, the better a glass on double- or triple-glazed
market is going we cannot afford to buy a home
ence the window’s performance. product is at keeping air out. AL windows – an indication of seal at this time. What can we do?
After frame material, consider is an optional rating and manu- failure.
the type of glass you want. facturers can choose not to • Light seepage – shine a A: It often happens that with price appreciation
Windows made today usually fea- include it on their labels. flashlight around the window’s those who own real estate cannot afford to buy their
ture heavy double or triple •Condensation Resistance – perimeter and have someone own houses at today’s values. In your situation you lost
panes roughly 7/8” thick that are measures how well a product stand outside to look for light
tightly sealed at the seams. resists the formation of conden- coming through the cracks.This
the benefit of two years’ worth of local appreciation by
Various types of low-emittance sation, expressed as a number is another sign of seal failure. selling.
glass, called Low-E, have reflec- between 1 and 100. The higher • It’s difficult to open and I suspect you can buy a home, although it may not be
tive coatings that reduce the the CR, the better a product is close your windows. your first choice.To see what you can afford, a good
flow of heat. Different types of able to resist condensation. CR is • Rot, decay, warping, crack- first step would be to review your finances with a local
Low-E glass are suited to differ- also an optional rating. ing, sticking and excessive wear. loan officer.
ent climates.
You also may want to choose There are two consumer- When shopping for replace-
There is, however, a caution:You have been unable to
a window with extra insulation, friendly guides to help con- ment windows, it’s important to buy in a rapidly rising market. But what happens if you
such as Argon or Krypton gas, sumers determine how well a “research the reputation of the buy and then home prices in your community stabilize
between the layers of glazing, or window will perform, and reli- manufacturer, the product you’re or actually decline? Such things can happen – reason
specially designed edge spacers ably compare one model to purchasing and the comprehen- enough to buy a home that’s readily affordable in good
that reduce heat transfer at the another. The National siveness of the warranty times and won’t sink your finances if times get hard.
edges of the unit, improving Fenestration Rating Council offered,” says Lazor.
energy efficiency. sponsors a certification and “Shop around, ask a lot of © Content That Works
Other factors that differenti- labeling program for windows questions and don’t base your
ate window quality include: that meet certain standards.And decision on cost,” says Maceda.
• U-factor – measures how look for the Energy Star “Make sure the installer is Do you have a question or a quandary about buying, sell-
well a product prevents heat Designation, developed by the trained and insured.” ing or renting? Peter G. Miller, author of The Common-Sense
from escaping a home. Low U U.S. Department of Energy, The Better Business Bureau Mortgage, specializes in providing real solutions to real estate
value is another indication of which also reports on the ener- recommends getting at least dilemmas. E-mail your questions to
energy efficiency. Especially gy efficiency of windows, sky- three quotes from different con- peter@contentthatworks.com.
important during the winter lights and doors. tractors or installation compa-
heating season. The Efficient Windows nies before plunking down your
• Solar Heat Gain Coefficient Collaborative Web site, www.effi- money.
– measures how well a product cientwindows.org, developed by
blocks heat from the sun, Lawrence Berkeley National © Content That Works
expressed as a number between Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., and
0 and 1. The lower the SHGC, the University of Minnesota
the better a product is at block- Center for Sustainable Building
ing unwanted heat gain. Research in Minneapolis, features
Especially important in the sum- an online window selection tool
mer cooling season. that enables homeowners to
• Visible Transmittance – evaluate cost and return of dif-
measures how much light comes ferent window constructions
through a product, expressed as based on a home’s geographic

LEAKS to, whether it can be painted, its


curing requirements and cleanup
plugging holes in the attic and
basement first, then look for
damage your home in the winter.
Warm air entering the walls from
sealing generally costs $100-$400
if you do it yourself, says RMI.
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 to see what best fits your applica- smaller leaks around doors and the house cools and condenses Assuming a conservative 33 per-
tion. windows and electrical outlets, its water vapor inside building cent savings on the average U.S.
typical home, according to the Caulk is not a place to save a say the experts. cavities. heating and cooling bill of $680
U.S. Department of Energy. few dollars on price. Inexpensive Ducts are the second biggest That means attics must be bill, and the effort pays for itself
Ducts, fireplaces, plumbing pene- caulks may last a few years, while energy waster. But despite the properly ventilated and treated in one to two years – and keeps
trations, doors and windows the premium-priced can last 20 ubiquity of duct tape (and its with a vapor diffusion retarder or paying dividends, not only for
each account for 10 percent or years or more. Caulk shouldn’t name), do not use duct tape to vapor barrier to reduce the rate your pocketbook, but when it
more of remaining air leaks. Mail generally be used for any crack seal ducts. It quickly hardens, at which water vapor can move comes time to sell.When
chutes, electrical outlets and greater than 1/4-inch wide. Cans cracks and loses its seal. Instead, through a material. Bathroom and prospective buyers ask about
entry points for gas, cable and of aerosol spray foam are better repair leaking joints with sheet kitchen exhaust fans also help by energy bills, you can safely say
phone lines are additional prob- for larger gaps. metal screws and seal with latex- removing contaminants directly your envelope is well sealed.
lem areas. Similarly, all weather stripping based mastic and either alu- from a room and increasing the
At each location, watch the (largely for use around doors and minum tape or a fiberglass mesh. ventilation rate. (The EPA offers a © Content That Works
smoke.The exhaust fans will windows) is not created equal. Wrap the ducts with special duct booklet on indoor air quality at
draw air out of the house and Felt and foam tapes are not very insulation – do not use insulation www.epa.gov/iaq.)
prompt outside air to come in at durable but are inexpensive and left over from other jobs. A close review and upgrade of
leakage points.Wherever smoke easy to use.Tubular rubber and Strategies for sealing are your home’s building envelope
is blown into a room, you’ve got reinforced silicone cost more and numerous, but whatever precau- can reduce heating costs by up
an air leak.The bad news is that can be difficult to install, but pro- tions you take to improve the to 50 percent, according to
you’re likely to have quite a few; vide tight and durable seals. integrity of your home’s enve- research from the Rocky
the good news is that they’re Devices to seal the bottoms of lope, always be sure to maintain Mountain Institute (RMI),
easy to fix. doors are just as numerous and proper ventilation, advises the Snowmass, Colo. Plus, there are
The main tools for plugging varied in their cost, durability, U.S. Environmental Protection the added advantages of blocking
leaks are two common materials effectiveness and ease of installa- Agency (EPA).You don’t want to outside noise, protecting a
found in any hardware store: tion. (For a complete rundown seal in bad air, whether it comes home’s structure from weather
caulking and weather stripping. on caulks and weather-stripping, from smoking, asbestos, radon, or damage and increasing indoor air
Each comes in numerous vari- click on the Home Series link at hobby activities that might quality.
eties and each has its own usage the Iowa Energy Center Web site include sanding, welding or sol- Short of blowing in new insu-
specifications. Read the labels to at www.energy.iastate.edu.) dering.You do not want to trap lation or replacing windows with
learn what each caulk adheres Start any sealing project by stale air or moisture, which can more energy efficient models,