4 Considerations When Enlarging Your Windows

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There are several reasons why you may want larger windows in your home. Perhaps you want to take advantage of a great view or you want more natural light in a room. Larger windows can achieve both of these, but when you want to upgrade your window size, you face several issues that can increase the complexity and cost of the project. Below are four things you should take into consideration before you hire a contractor to enlarge your windows. 

Know the Common Issues You Might Face 

Enlarging your windows, as opposed to simply replacing the glass, involves enlarging the space where the window sits and fitting a new window frame into your home. This will involve cutting into the wall of your home. It is important to know whether your wall has any electrical or plumbing systems where you want to extend the window. If there are electrical or plumbing systems, your contractor may need to hire an electrician or plumber to relocate them. 

Additionally, if the wall is load bearing, it can be complicated to extend the beam above the window, which supports the weight of the area directly above the window. 

Finally, cutting through cement for basement windows or brick for windows in brick wall can be a difficult, messy, and expensive process. 

Figure Out If You Need a Permit 

In most areas, if you are extending the window horizontally, you may need a building permit. This is because horizontal extensions can significantly change the structural integrity of a home. However, in some areas, you only need a permit if you are extending your window over a certain width, and you will not need a permit if you are not extending past your current load-supporting beam above the window. 

Usually, you will not need a permit for vertical extensions of a window, as long as you are extending the window down as opposed to up. 

Consider Vertical Increases Instead of Horizontal 

If you are simply looking for more natural light in a room, you might consider extending your window down as opposed to horizontally. Because vertical increases do not require a change in the load-supporting beam above the window, these kinds of changes tend to be more cost effective, easier, and faster. However, if you extend a window vertically towards the ground, you may be required to use tempered glass in the window. Standards require tempered safety glass when a window's bottom edge is less than 18 inches from the ground, its top edge is more than 36 inches above the ground, and the surface area is greater than 9 square feet. 

Consider Energy Loss and High Performance Windows 

When you are installing larger windows in your home, you increase your risk of losing energy when you are heating and cooling your home. This can increase your energy bills and make your home less comfortable. You can offset this negative impact by selecting energy efficient windows, generally windows that are ENERGY STAR rated, meaning they fit basic requirements for energy efficiency in your climate. Many states offer tax incentives and rebates to help you cover the cost of energy efficient windows. Additionally, many states, such as California, have adopted legal measures that require adherence to certain energy standards when installing new windows. 

Expanding the area of your windows can change the interior and exterior appearance of your home and may be a worthwhile upgrade. However, it is important to be aware of the issues involved with increasing your windows' surface areas and work with an experienced contractor from a company like Jerry Newman Roofing & Remodeling, Inc. who can anticipate problems and inform you of legal issues regarding energy efficiency in your area.