Replacing windows is something Mr. T and I figured we would have to hire out. We had no experience with anything window-related and we figured poorly sealed or hung windows could be scary. (Don’t ask me why we were more afraid to hang our own windows than reroute gas piping since we had no experience there either.) So, we got a few quotes around town. It looked like just replacing our windows was going to cost us $6-7000. Since this was the very reason we were doing the energy audit, we were resigned to the fact that this would take up our whole budget and we would go way over that $8500 target. But we needed new windows badly (remember the mold in fingers?) and $6-7000 seemed like a lot of money.
Before hiring anyone, we talked to people (it pays to talk to people). Mr. T’s friend mentioned that windows were one of the easiest things to install and he would even help us. This simple comment changed everything. Even though Mr. T’s friend threw his back out the week of the window install, Mr. T didn’t need him. The comment gave Mr. T the confidence he needed to order wholesale windows and study the installation guides. I was in charge of gathering help to lift the upstairs windows (Costco pizza for the win!). We averaged about a window a day of installation followed by days and days and days of trimming.
It’s cheaper to purchase wood and cut and paint your own trim rather than purchasing pre-cut and especially pre-painted trim. The warning here is that on the second day of cutting, sanding, and painting trim, you’ll get pretty tired of it. On the third day, you’ll think the pre-cut trim seemed like a brilliant idea. On the fourth day you’ll even be willing to fork over all that money for the pre-painted trim, and on the fifth day of working on your precious trim, you’ll start to question your whole quest toward early retirement (“I’ll never make it! I can’t even handle putting in all this extra work to save a few bucks!”). Stick it out. You’ll make it. And you’ll be so happy you did. Although your kids might be upset you used so many of their Hello Kitty paper plates they inherited from some kind soul. (Also, note the old garage door table. Classy, I know.) In the end, you may have a bunch of pieces of trim too short to use and then, if you’re as resourceful as Mr. T, you’ll fashion them in to a new, beautiful chest for dress-ups that is also safe enough for Lui to climb on to look out the new windows. And then you’ll really be glad you stuck it out.
Total window cost: $2796.20 – $2726.13 is reimbursable. The non-reimburseable items include ear muffs to protect Mr.T’s large and sensitive ears from the sound of the saw and hammer, a crowbar, a new doorbell button, some drill bits, paint rollers, and two costco pizzas. Don’t underestimate what people will do for pizza. Even cheap Costco pizza.
The venting of the bathroom fans was much more straightforward. It took a weekend and now our bathroom fans both actually vent to the outside. And I got a money shot of Mr. T through the hole in the ceiling. Attractive, amiright?
Total cost: $405.87 – $371.46 of this is reimbursable. We chose to buy a light and install it separate from the fan in one bathroom because it cost us a total of $34.41. While we can’t reimburse the light, it saved us over $70 in the total cost because purchasing a fan with humidity sensing and a light was over $100 more than the fan we purchased without a light.
- Water heater replacement: $2592.75 – $1911.84 of this is reimbursable.
- Garage door install: $1042. All reimbursable.
Left to do projects:
- Blow more insulation into the attic
- Insulate the crawlspace
- Replace the front door with one that is hung straight and will open year-round
- Get a better furnace.
Grand Total so far: $6,836.82 – $6,051.43 of which is reimbursable. So, the goal is to complete the last four projects for right around $2500.